Concerns for a Child or Vulnerable Adult

Contact Zimmerman Services (02) 4979 1390

A witness asks, “How could you abuse a child?”

The victim asks, “Why didn’t you do anything to stop it?”

Concern for children is a term used by the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in a wide range of possible situations or issues that may adversely affect the safety, welfare or wellbeing of a child or class of children and includes those matters that:

  • may involve a criminal act;
  • constitute ‘risk of significant harm’; or
  • do not meet the threshold for significant harm but where you have anxiety or fears for a child or class of children, particularly when your fears or anxiety stem from the behaviours of people who are a part of the diocese.

Is it an emergency?

There are three simple questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is someone seriously injured or in need of urgent medical help?
  2. Is your life or property being threatened?
  3. Have you just witnessed a serious accident or crime?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of the above questions – ring Triple Zero 000 immediately

When you call Triple Zero 000 remember:

  • Stay focused, stay relevant, stay on the line
  • Do you want Police, Fire or Ambulance?
  • Stay calm, don't shout, speak slowly and clearly.
  • Tell us exactly where to come. Give an address or location.

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Zimmerman Services can assist you

As a worker or a parishioner in the diocese, you have access to Zimmerman Services, the diocese’s specialist child protection service.  You can ring during office hours (Phone 4979 1390) to discuss your concerns for a child or vulnerable adult and receive professional advice and support.

You can email your concerns to Zimmerman Services.

Recognising abuse or neglect

The first step in protecting children or vulnerable adults is to recognise the indicators of abuse and neglect in children, their carers or vulnerable adults.

To appropriately apply the indicators of abuse you must take a client-centric approach, to ‘see through the eyes of the child’ or take on the perspective of the person with special needs, developmental delay or other circumstances that render the person vulnerable to harm.

Often, an abused child or vulnerable adult displays a cluster of indicators; sometimes a single significant indicator is sufficient.  The absence of indicators does not mean that there is no abuse.

Reporting obligations for diocesan workers and leaders

If you are an employee, volunteer, contractor, cleric or religious ‘working’ for the diocese, you have specific obligations to report concerns for a child or vulnerable adult to your supervisor and to Zimmerman Services.

If you are a supervisor/manager or senior leader in the diocese, you have additional reporting obligations, particularly to Zimmerman Services.

These obligations are broader than our legal duty to report risk of serious harm, reportable conduct or reportable incidents involving vulnerable adults.

All those working for the diocese must meet their obligations to report concerns for a child or vulnerable adult. As leaders in the diocese, there are high expectations placed on you to ensure these obligations are met personally and within your area of responsibility.



Is it risk of serious harm (ROSH)?

ROSH (risk of significant harm) is the standard that your concerns for children need to meet to report to Family and Community Services (FaCS), the NSW Government’s statutory child protection authority.

Diocesan workers who work with children and their supervisors are mandatory reporters to FaCS and have a legal duty to report ROSH.

You make a ROSH report to the Child Protection Helpline which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Phone 132 111.

The Mandatory Reporters Guide (MRG) is an online tool to assist you to assess whether your concerns constitute a ROSH.


Is it below the threshold for reporting to Family and Community Services?

While the concerns you have for children may not reach the threshold of a ROSH (risk of significant harm), that does not mean that there is nothing that can or should be done.

For concerns that are ‘below the threshold’ the NSW Government has been building capacity in community support services to provide voluntary supports.  The Diocese’s CatholicCare Social Services provides many community support services.

Zimmerman Services is available to provide professional child protection advice and support for concerns that are ‘below the threshold’.  Phone 4979 1390 during office hours.


Contact us: Zimmerman Services (the diocesan child protection service)

To assist you in playing your part in this vital work, the diocese has developed and maintains this child protection website:
50 Crebert Street Mayfield NSW 2304
PO Box 29 Carrington NSW 2294

Call (02)  4979 1390

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