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CHILD SAFE POLICY

 

The Warrandyte Neighbourhood House (WNH) is committed to providing a child safe environment where children’s safety and wellbeing is supported and children feel respected, valued and encouraged to reach their full potential.  The WNH embeds the Victorian Child Safe Standards and promotes a culture of safety to minimise the risk of harm to children.

 

Non-school provider child safe standards are:

  1. Organisations establish a culturally safe environment in which the diverse and unique identities and experiences of Aboriginal children and young people are respected and valued.

  2. Child safety and wellbeing are embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture.

  3. Children and young people are empowered about their rights, participate in decision affecting them and are taken seriously.

  4. Families and communities are informed and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing.

  5. Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice.

  6. People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice.

  7. Processes for compliance and concerns are child focused.

  8. Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training.

  9. Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed.

  10. Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is regularly reviewed and improved.

  11. Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.

 

SCOPE

This policy applies to the Board, management, staff, visitors (including volunteers and contractors) and the children and young people participating in WNH activities.

 

WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE?

Child abuse is any action toward a child or young person that harms or puts at risk their physical, psychological or emotional health or development. Child abuse can be a single incident or a number of incidents that take place over a period of time.

IDENTIFYING SIGNS OF CHILD ABUSE

Staff at the WNH play a pivotal role in protecting children and young people from harm by responding to and reporting any incidents, disclosures or suspicions.  Understanding the signs of child abuse is critical in supporting children and young people’s safety and wellbeing.

 

There are different forms of child abuse –

  • Physical abuse

  • Child sexual abuse

  • Grooming

  • Emotional child abuse

  • Neglect

  • Family violence and

  • Children exhibiting inappropriate sexual behaviour.

 

DUTY OF CARE

Duty of Care refers to your responsibility to protect children and young people in your care form harm.

 

Duty of Care means:

  • Acting on concerns quickly and in the child’s best interest

  • Protecting the safety and wellbeing of children and young people who attend the WNH.

  • Seeking appropriate advice if you are unsure.

  • Consulting with the manager regarding reporting or next steps.

 

MANDATORY REPORTING

As staff at the WNH, we are not legally considered to be mandatory reporters, however, depending upon the circumstances, a decision may be made to report to DFFH.  Please consult with the manager.

 

The exception to this would be registered psychologists who may facilitate a program on behalf of WNH.

 

WORKING WITH CHILDREN CHECK

A working with Children Check is mandatory for all employees or volunteers working with children. It is the responsibility of the WNH to sight an employee or volunteer working with Childrens Check BEFORE they commence working with children.  Working with Children Check Victoria will notify organisations in writing if an employee’s Working with Children’s Check has been suspended or revoked.

 

FAILURE TO DISCLOSE AND FAILURE TO PROTECT

Failure to disclose or take action in relation to suspected child abuse can constitute a criminal offence.  The law requires any adult who holds a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed in Victoria, by an adult against a child (aged under 16) discloses this information to police.

 

Reasonable grounds for forming a belief may include where:

  • A child states they have been abused

  • A child states they know someone who has been, or is being, abused.

  • Someone who knows the child states that the child has been abused, is being abused, or is at risk of abuse.

  • You observe a child’s behaviour, actions or injuries that may place them at risk.

  • You are aware of persistent violence, parental substance misuse or disability that is impacting upon the child’s safety.

  • You observe signs or indicators of abuse.

 

Staff should make sufficient enquiries to form a belief, however it is not the role of the staff to conduct an investigation. The WNH strongly opposes any type of abuse against a child and endorses high quality practices in relation to protecting children.

The WNH will ensure:

  • Any staff involved in the day to day running of the House has read and understood the policy.

  • Recruitment incudes a robust screening process

  • All staff and volunteers working with children will have a current Working with Children’s Check

  • All staff and volunteers are:

    • Provided with a current copy of the Child Safe policy.

    • Aware of child protection legislation including

      • Their mandatory reporting obligations

      • Their Duty of Care obligations

    • Aware of indicators showing a child may be at risk of harm.

  • Staff and volunteers have access to the manager for direction and secondary consultation.

 

DOCUMENTING SUSPICION OF HARM

If staff have concerns about the safety of a child, they will:

 

  • Consult and seek advice form manager.

  • Record their concerns in a non-judgemental and accurate manner as soon as possible.

 

WHEN RECEIVING A DSCLOSURE OF HARM, STAFF WILL:

  • Remain calm and not display any expressions of shock or panic.

  • State clearly that the abuse is not the child’s fault.

  • Listen to the child.

  • NOT promise to keep a secret.

  • Use the child’s language and vocabulary.

  • Tell the child they have done the right thing in revealing the information but that you will need to tell someone to keep the child safe.

  • NOT attempt to conduct an investigation.

  • Document as soon as possible:

    • Time, date and place of disclosure

    • ‘Word for word’ (as far as possible) what happened and what was said, including what staff said.

    • Date and sign

 

 

MANAGING A BREACH OF THE POLICY

The manager will investigate the breach in a fair, unbiased and supportive manner by:

  • Discussing the breach with those involved

  • Give the staff member an opportunity to provide their version of events.

  • Fully documenting the details of the breach

  • Record the outcome clearly and without bias.

  • Ensure confidentiality.

  • Reach a decision based on the evidence and discussion.

 

Depending on the nature of the breach, the outcomes may include:

  • Emphasising the relevant element of the Child Safe policy

  • Provide closer supervision.

  • Provide further education and training.

  • Provide mediation where appropriate and required.

  • Follow disciplinary processes if required.

  • Review current policy.

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