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Child Protection Policy

Under the Children’s Act 2014 No. 40 and as a contractor to the Ministry of Health, Hillcrest Dental Services Ltd (HDSL) must have a Child Protection Policy. Under this legislation a “child” is defined as someone younger than 18 who is not married or in a civil union. This policy is to ensure applicable steps are taken to ensure children are protected while visiting the practice and if a child seems to be abused/harmed outside of the practice, then the correct steps are taken towards child protection. This Child Protection Policy must be reviewed once every 3 years. 

​Worker Safety Checks 

Under the Children’s Act 2014 No. 40 people who have been convicted of serious offences (specified in Schedule 2 of the Act) are prohibited from being employed as a children’s worker.  

Worker safety checks are obtained and the following steps are carried out to protect a child while visiting Hillcrest & Tamahere Dental Centres. 

Worker safety checking can help assess whether people pose a risk to children and provides a way of preventing unsafe people from entering the children’s workforce. All state services and organisations that are funded either directly or indirectly by state services (which provide regulated services) must undertake worker safety checks on core children’s workers. HDSL chooses to perform these checks for non-core workers as well.  

Core workers at HDSL are usually dentists, oral health therapists, hygienists, and clinical dental technicians. 

Non-core workers are usually dental assistants and administrative staff, such as receptionists and practice managers. 

Prior to employment or clinical contracting at Hillcrest Dental Services Ltd, the following checks should be performed: 

  • Identity verification 

Confirmation of the identity of the children’s worker, sighting required documents eg, passport, driver’s licence or by using an electronic service, such as the RealMe identity verification service. 

  • Reference checks 

Obtaining information from two or three referees about the person’s recent work experience. 

  • Interviews 

With the person and gathering information about their work history. 

  • Third party checks 

With the person’s professional registration body or licensing authority (as appropriate). 

  • Police vetting 

NZ Police will provide a report listing a person’s convictions for a list of specified offences as stipulated in the Act that prohibit them working with children.  The report will also provide details of any other convictions, including location, date and sentence imposed.  The person must give consent for HDSL to undertake police vetting. 

Police vetting forms are available from www.police.govt.nz 

  • Risk assessment 

Assessing the risk the person would pose to the safety of children if employed in a core children’s worker role. 

Identifying & Reporting Suspected Child Abuse 

Dentists as health professionals have a range of responsibilities to their patients. Patient care includes the overall welfare of our patients, and this is particularly relevant to children and young people.  

Abuse is, where from your observations, a child or young person has been subject to any of the following:  

  • Physical abuse or harm: for example, unexplained repetitive bruises, lacerations, abrasions, fractures or burns.  

  • Serious psychological abuse: this may include (but is not restricted to) rejection, deprivation of stimulation or affection, constant criticism or exposure to family violence.  

  • Sexual Abuse: may be recognised by inappropriate language or behaviour.  

  • Serious Neglect: failure, by parents, guardians or usual caregivers to provide for the child's appropriate physical, emotional or medical needs. The child's health, development or safety is endangered. 

Under Section 15 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 Children’s and Young People’s Well-being Act 1989 (The Act), “Any person who believes that any child or young person has been, or is likely to be, harmed (whether physically, emotionally, or sexually), ill-treated, abused, neglected, or deprived may report the matter to a social worker or a constable”. 

Concerns should be reported if you suspect a child or young person has been abused, is at risk from abuse or is in serious and imminent danger. 

If a dental assistant or administrative staff member notices a child may be suffering abuse, he/she should report the concerns to the principal dentist in the first instance. 

If a dentist, oral health therapist, hygienist or clinical dental technician believes a child may be suffering a form of abuse, he/she should report the concerns directly to: 

  • The Oranga Tamariki National Call Centre 0508 FAMILY or  

  • The Police 111 or 105 

If there are immediate concerns for the physical safety of the child, a report should be made immediately to Oranga Tamariki or the Police. Section 17 of the Act requires that a social worker or member of the Police must undertake or arrange an investigation as soon as practicable.  

When you phone the Oranga Tamaki National Call Centre, you will be put forward to an intake worker. It will be helpful to have as much information as possible.  

The intake social worker will need the following information:  

  • Your concerns or suspicions 

  • The reasons why you believe this child is at risk or suffering abuse  

  • An indication that this is a formal notification of actual or suspected child abuse  

  • Your opinion about whether this notification is urgent. 

It will be helpful to document the information and the National Call Centre may request you follow up the phone reporting with a written statement.  


The dentist's role is not to conduct an investigation to confirm whether or not abuse has occurred, but to observe, document and report. 

NOTE: Care must be taken not to ask leading questions of the child or young person or to undertake actions, which are more properly suited to Oranga Tamariki or the Police. No in-depth interview of the child should be attempted. 

  • It is important for dentists and their staff to understand their reporting responsibilities. Dentists should feel free to discuss their concerns and understand they have the right to call and discuss situations with the National Call Centre intake social worker to determine if the matter should be a notification under Section 15 of the Act.  

  • Dentists and their staff are encouraged to seek educational opportunities to improve their knowledge in this area.  

  • Oranga Tamariki has available Community Liaison Social Workers who are able to provide education and training in the reporting of child abuse. 

More information can be found in the Dental Council of New Zealand Code of Practice for Child Protection. 


  • Documents should be specific, objective and include the date and who was present.  

  • Write a verbatim account of the incident, child/parent/guardian statements and note any physical signs or relevant behavioural anomalies.  

  • Document whether you sought advice on the matter and why  

  • Document the content of any discussions you have and with whom  

  • Document subsequent actions taken. (e.g. ‘rang Oranga Tamariki)  

  • Sign and print your name on this record.  

  • Documentation may be called for and used in court.  

  • Any diagrams completed for physical injuries should have date, description and signature appended. 


Sharing Information 

Social workers may from time to time, require patient information from dentists. In this situation, the dentist should be provided with a written request for personal information which contains reference to section 22C of the Health Act.  

Also refer to: 

Health Information Privacy Code 2020  

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 Children’s and Young People’s Well-being Act 1989 

Privacy Act 2020 

Family Violence Act 2018 

Children’s Act 2014 



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