Mandatory reporting: ‘A policy without reason’.


  • Emily Keddell University of Otago


child protection, mandatory reporting, prevention, public health


This viewpoint explores the recommendation to introduce mandatory reporting from the recent report into the case of Malachi Subecz, a child who was killed by his caregiver. I argue that this policy would have unintended consequences. It is likely to flood the system with low risk cases, which could make identification of high risk cases more difficult. It reduces a focus on prevention; intensifies resources and power within Oranga Tamariki; and does not take into account either the complexity of issues causing abuse and harm, nor their widespread nature. This policy is also likely to exacerbate inequities for Māori, as bias is more likely to impact low risk reports. Currently, people may not report due to a lack of clarity around the type and severity of cases they should report, and limited or inadequate responses to previous reports made, not because they are unable to recognise the signs of abuse or are unwilling to act on them. Instead, we should keep a strong focus on prevention and devolution, while also urgently generating a clear consensus between Oranga Tamariki and key reporters about when, why, how and what the outcomes of reporting should be. Alternative recommendations are suggested.

Author Biography

Emily Keddell, University of Otago

Senior Lecturer in Social Work

Sociology, Gender and Social Work


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How to Cite

Keddell, E. (2022). Mandatory reporting: ‘A policy without reason’. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 34(4), 76–81. Retrieved from