Mason’s Law Seeks to Protect Children

Child sitting in a room corner

On 14 September 2016 Queensland Parliament passed the Child Protection (Mandatory Reporting – Mason’s Law) Amendment Bill 2016.

The amendment to the legislation resulted from the stoic campaigning of Townsville grandparents John and Sue Sandeman who petitioned both sides of Queensland Parliament to change the law after the death of their grandson Mason Parker in 2011.

Their grandchild was murdered by his mother’s then-partner.

It was alleged that days before the death, childcare workers had noticed bruising on Mason’s body but had not reported it to the authorities.

The Child Protection Act 1999 requires that if certain professionals (“a relevant person”) form a reasonable suspicion that a child:

(a)has suffered, is suffering or is at an unacceptable risk of suffering significant harm caused by physical or sexual abuse; and
(b)may not have a parent able and willing to protect the child from the harm

then that professional, must report such to the Department of Child Safety.

Prior to 1 July 2017, the types of professionals required to make a report were:

(a)A doctor;
(b)A registered nurse;
(c)A teacher;
(d)A police officer who works in child protection; and
(e)A person engaged to perform a child advocate function under the Public Guardian Act 2014 (Qld).

As of 1 July 2017, early childhood education and care professionals will be included. That is, persons who are:

(a)An approved operator of an education and care service;
(b)A supervisor or staff member of an education and care service;
(c)A nominated supervisor or staff member of an education and care service.

The explanatory notes identify that the objective of this legislation is to protect children at an age, who are particularly vulnerable and intervene in a timely manner.

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