Child Safe Policy


Child Safe Policy

Commitment Statement

Hoa Nghiem Primary School is committed to child safety.

We have zero tolerance of any form of child abuse and actively ensure that all children feel safe, happy and empowered both within the school environment and beyond.

The school is committed to regular training and educating our staff and volunteers on child abuse risks. We have specific policies, procedures and training in place that support our leadership team, staff and volunteers to achieve these commitments.  We support and respect all children, as well as our staff and volunteers. We are committed to the cultural safety Aboriginal children, the cultural safety of children from diverse backgrounds and to providing a safe environment for children with a disability.

Our Students

This policy is intended to empower our students to be vital and active participants in our school. We involve them when making decisions, especially about matters that directly affect them and actively seek their feedback on educational, social and wider school/community issues. We listen to their views and respect what they have to say, ensuring that we communicate with our students in a manner of mutual respect that is consistent with our school’s Buddhist background. We promote diversity and tolerance in our organisation, and welcome people from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds.  We are committed to ensuring the full and active participation of students with a disability in all aspects of school life. Further details regarding the manner in which we support students’ inclusion and empowerment can be found in other key policy documents such as Wellbeing policy and the Parent Handbook.

Our Staff and Volunteers

This policy guides our staff and volunteers on how to behave with children in our organisation, which is further underpinned by a range of school policies and codes of conduct.  All staff and volunteers must agree to abide by our code of conduct which specifies the standards of conduct required when working with children. Codes of conduct are seen as working documents, which are subject to alteration at any time and may shift with feedback from students, staff, leadership or the Board.

Training and supervision

Training and education is important to ensure that everyone in our school understands that child safety is everyone’s responsibility.  We aim for a culture that ensures all staff, volunteers, parents/carers and children feel confident and comfortable in discussing any allegations of child abuse or child safety concerns.  In order to actively build this culture, we train our staff and volunteers to identify, assess, and minimise risks of child abuse and to detect potential signs of child abuse.

We also support our staff and volunteers 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.  This is done both through formal professional development opportunities, as well as class visits by the Children’s Safety Officer to monitor potential learning needs.

New employees and volunteers are supervised on a regular basis to ensure they understand our culture of child safety, as well as confirming that their behaviour towards children falls within our code of conduct. Any inappropriate behaviour will be reported through appropriate channels, including the Department of Health and Human Services and Victoria Police, depending on the severity and urgency of the matter.

Recruitment

We take all reasonable steps to ensure that the staff that we hire, whether for classroom or administrative positions, meet our high standards in their ability to work with and relate to a range of children.  Our selection criteria clearly demonstrate a commitment to child safety and an awareness of our social and legislative responsibilities.

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, are required to hold a Working with Children Check and to provide evidence of this Check. Please see the Working with Children Check website <www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au> for further information

Fair Procedures for Personnel

While the safety and wellbeing of children is our primary concern, we also ensure that we are fair and just to personnel. The decisions that we make when recruiting, assessing incidents or undertaking disciplinary action will always be thorough, transparent, and evidence-based.

We record all allegations of abuse and safety concerns using our incident reporting form, 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 take in a manner that respects the confidentiality and human dignity of those involved.

Privacy

All personal information considered or recorded will respect the privacy of the individuals involved, whether they be 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.

Legislative responsibilities

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 16 have an obligation to report that information to the police.[1]
  •      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.[2]
  •      Any personnel who are mandatory reporters must comply with their duties.[3]

Risk management

In Victoria, organisations are required to protect children when a risk is identified (see information about failure to protect above). In addition to general 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 our community- other than family members- on social media).  We are always open to feedback from members of our school and the broader community if they feel that there is a risk that has not yet been considered.  The Child Safety Officer will respond within 24 hours to any concerns raised, either by email or in writing.  Documentation of this feedback will be maintained on file, in a secure and private location.

Allegations, concerns and complaints

Our organisation takes all allegations seriously and has practices in place to investigate thoroughly and quickly. Our staff and volunteers are trained to deal appropriately with allegations.

We work to ensure that all children, families, staff and volunteers know what to do and who to tell if they observe abuse, are a victim of abuse, or if they notice inappropriate behaviour.  We all have a responsibility to report an allegation of abuse if we have a reasonable belief that an incident took place (see information about failure to disclose above).  This report may be made to the Child Safety Officer or Chair of the Board, but we encourage any adult who suspects that a child is being abused to immediately contact the relevant authorities (e.g. police).

If an adult has a reasonable belief that an incident has occurred then they must report the incident. Factors contributing to reasonable belief may be:

  •      a child states they or someone they know has been abused (noting that sometimes the child may in fact be referring to themselves)
  •      behaviour consistent with that of an abuse victim is observed[4]
  •      someone else has raised a suspicion of abuse but is unwilling to report it
  •      suspicious behaviour has been observed

Regular review

This policy will be reviewed annually by the School Board. It will also be reviewed after any significant incidents and where necessary modifications will be applied and deficiencies or weakness remedied without delay.  The School Board will be required to approve the annual review of the Child Safe Policies and Procedures.

 

Chair of School Board: Venerable Thich Thien Tam

Signed

Date: 01/08/2016

 

Note:

[1] A person will not commit this offence if they have a reasonable excuse for not disclosing the information, including a fear for their safety or where the information has already been disclosed.

Further information about the failure to disclose offence is available on the Department of Justice and Regulation website <www.justice.vic.gov.au/home/safer+communities/protecting+children+and+families/failure+to+disclose+offence>.

[2] Further information about the failure to protect offence is available on the Department of Justice and Regulation website <www.justice.vic.gov.au/home/safer+communities/protecting+children+and+families/failure+to+protect+offence>.

[3] Mandatory reporters (doctors, nurses, midwives, teachers (including early childhood teachers), principals and police) must report to child protection if they believe on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection from physical injury or sexual abuse.

See the Department of Health and Human Services website for information about how to make a report to child protection <www.dhs.vic.gov.au/about-the-department/documents-and-resources/reports-publications/guide-to-making-a-report-to-child-protection-or-child-first>.

[4] For example behaviour, please see An Overview of the Victorian child safe standards: <www.dhs.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/word_doc/0005/955598/Child-safe-standards_overview.doc>