Our commitment to child safety
Our organisation is committed to child safety.
We want children to be safe, happy and empowered. We support and respect all children, our staff and volunteers.
We are committed to the safety ,participation and empowerment of all children.
We have zero-tolerance for child abuse,and all allegations and safety concerns will be treated seriously and consistently with our robust policies and procedures.
We have legal and moral obligations to contact authorities when we are worried about a child’s safety, which we followrigorously.
Our organisation is committed to preventing child abuse, identifying early risks, and removing and reducing these risks.
Our organisation has robust human resources and recruitment practices for all staff and volunteers.
Our organisation is committed to regularly training and educating our staff and volunteers on child abuse risks.
We support and respect all children, our staff and volunteers. We are committed to the cultural safety of Aboriginal children, the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, and providing a safe environment for children with a disability.
We have specific policies, procedures and training that support our leadership team, staff and volunteers to achieve these commitments.
If you believe a child is at immediate risk of abuse, phone 000.
This policy is intended to empower children who are vital and active participants in our organisation. We involve them when making decisions, especially about matters that directly affect them. We listen to their views and respect what they have to say.
We promote diversity and tolerance in our organisation, and people from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds are welcome. In particular we:
• promote the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of Aboriginal children
• promote the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds
• ensure that children with a disability are safe and can participate equally.
Our staff and volunteers
This policy guides our staff and volunteers on how to behave withchildren in our organisation.
All staff and volunteers must agree to abide by our code of conductwhich specifies the standards of conduct required when working with children. All staff and volunteers, as well as children and their families, are allowedto contribute to developing the code of conduct.
Training and supervision
Training and education are essential to ensure that everyone in our organisation understands that child safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Our organisational culture aims for all staff and volunteers (in addition to parents/carers and children) to feel confident and comfortable in discussing any allegations of child abuse or child safety concerns. We train our staff and volunteers to identify, assess, and minimise child abuse risks and detect potential signs of child abuse.
We also support our staff and volunteers through on going supervision to: develop their skills to protect children from abuse; and promote the cultural safety of Aboriginal children, the cultural safety of children from linguistically and/or diverse backgrounds, and the safety of children with a disability.
New employees and volunteers will be supervised regularly to ensure they understand our organisation’s commitment to child safety and that everyone has a role to play in protecting children from abuse, as well as checking that their behaviour towards children is safe and appropriate (please refer to this organisation’s code of conduct to understand appropriate behaviour further). Any inappropriate behaviour will be reported through proper channels, including the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing and Victoria Police, depending on the severity and urgency of the matter.
We take all reasonable steps to employ skilled people to work with children. We develop selection criteria and advertisements that demonstrate our commitment to child safety and an awareness of our social and legislative responsibilities. Our organisation understands that when recruiting staff and volunteers, we have ethical and legislative obligations.
We actively encourage applications from Aboriginal peoples, people from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with a disability.
All people engaged in child-related work, including volunteers, must hold a Working with Children Check and provide evidence of this Check. Please see the Working with Children Check website<www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au> for further information
We carry out reference and police record checks to ensure we are recruiting the right people. Police record checks are used only for recruitment and are discarded after the recruitment process is complete. We would retain our own records (but not the actual criminal record) if an applicant’s criminal history affected our decision-making process.
If a person’s records indicate a criminal history during the recruitment process, then the person will be allowed to provide further information and context.
Fair procedures for personnel
The safety and well-being of children are our primary concerns. We are also fair and just to personnel. The decisions we make when recruiting, assessing incidents, and undertaking disciplinary action will always be thorough, transparent, and evidence-based.
We record all allegations of abuse and safety concerns using our incident reporting form4, including investigation updates. All records are securely stored.
If an allegation of abuse or a safety concern is raised, we provide updates to children and families on progress and any actions we as an organisation take.
All personal information considered or recorded will respect the privacy of the individuals involved, whether staff, volunteers, parents or children unless there is a risk to someone’s safety. We have safeguards and practices in place to ensure any personal information is protected. Everyone is entitled to know how this information is recorded, what will be done with it, and who will have access to it.
Our organisation takes our legal responsibilities seriously, including:
• Failure to disclose: Reporting child sexual abuse is a community-wide responsibility. All adults in Victoria who have a reasonable belief that an adult has committed a sexual offence against a child under 16have an obligation to report that information to the police.
• Failure to protect: People of authority in our organisation will commit an offence if they know of a substantial risk of child sexual abuse and have the power or responsibility to reduce or remove the risk but negligently fail to do so.
• Any personnel who are mandatory reporters must comply with their duties
In Victoria, organisations are required to protect children when a risk is identified (see information about failure to protect above). In addition to occupational health and safety risks, we proactively manage risks of abuse to our children.
We have risk management strategies in place to identify, assess, and take steps to minimise child abuse risks, which include risks posed by physical environments (for example, any doors that can lock) and online environments (for example, no staff or volunteer is to have contact with a child in organisations on social media).
This policy will be reviewed every two years and following significant incidents if they occur. We will ensure that families and children have the opportunity to contribute. Where possible, we do our best to work with local Aboriginal communities, culturally and/or linguistically diverse communities and people with a
Allegations, concerns and complaints
Our organisation takes all allegationsseriously and has practices to investigate thoroughly and quickly. Our staffand volunteers are trained to deal appropriately with allegations.
We work to ensure all children, families,staff and volunteers know what to do, who to tell if they observe abuse or area victim, and if they notice inappropriate behaviour.
We all have a responsibility to report anallegation of abuse if we reasonably believe that an incident occurred (seeinformation about failure to disclose above).
If an adult reasonably believes that anincident has occurred, they must report it. Factors contributing to reasonablebelief may be:
• a child states they or someone they knowhas been abused (noting that sometimes the child may be referring to themselves)
• behaviour consistent with that of anabuse victim is observed8
• someone else has raised a suspicion ofabuse but is unwilling to report it
• observing suspicious behaviour.