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Student Life: Student Life
Biology Class

CHILD SAFETY

Child Safe Policy

 

Overview

My College has developed the following Child Safe Policy as an overarching document to outline the key elements of our approach to protecting children from abuse.

The Policy forms the foundation of the College’s procedures, practices, decision-making processes and ultimately the College’s culture with respect to child safety.  It has been approved and endorsed by the school principal and is reviewed annually by the child safety committee.

Purpose

Our Child Safe Policy demonstrates the College’s strong commitment to child safety and wellbeing and to creating and maintaining a child safe and child-friendly environment.  It provides an overview of the policies and practices that we have developed to keep our students safe, including from abuse or other harm.

Our Child Safe Policy outlines the key elements of our approach to implementing Ministerial Order 1359 (which sets out how the Victorian Child Safe Standards apply in school environments) and to the College as a child safe organisation.

It informs the College community about everyone’s obligations to act safely and appropriately towards students and guides the policies, processes and practices for the safety and wellbeing of students across all areas of our work, which are set out in the College’s comprehensive Child Safety Program.

The Child Safe Policy provides the framework for:

  • the implementation of the Victorian Child Safe Standards and Ministerial Order 1359;

  • the development of work systems, practices, policies and procedures that promote child protection, safety and wellbeing within the College;

  • the creation of a safe and supportive College environment and a positive and robust child safe culture;

  • the promotion and open discussion of child safety issues within the College; and

  • compliance with all laws, regulations, and standards relevant to child safety and wellbeing, including child protection, in Victoria.

 

Scope

The College’s Child Safe Policy applies to all adults in the College community, whether or not their work involves direct contact with students, including;

  • Staff and Direct Contact Contractors (including External Education Providers), who are “school staff” the meaning of Ministerial Order 1359;

  • other types of Contractors;

  • Volunteers; or

  • Visitors.

This Policy applies in all physical, virtual and online College environments used by students at any time, including all locations provided for a student’s use (for example, on-site and off-site College grounds, sporting events, camps, excursions, and environments provided by External Education Providers and other Contractors).

 

Roles and Responsibilities

Child safety and wellbeing is everyone’s responsibility.  All adults in the College community have a shared responsibility for contributing to the safety, wellbeing, and protection of students.

  Statement of Commitment to Child Safety and Wellbeing

All children and young people who come to My College have a right to feel and be safe. We are committed to providing a child safe and child friendly environment, where children and young people are safe and feel safe and can actively participate in decisions that affect their lives.

We have a zero tolerance for child abuse and other harm and are committed to acting in the best interests of students and keeping them safe from harm.

The College regards its child safety responsibilities with the utmost importance and as such is committed to providing the necessary resources to ensure compliance with all relevant child safety and wellbeing laws and regulations and maintaining a child safe culture.

Each member of the College community has a responsibility to understand the important and specific role that they play individually and collectively to ensure that the wellbeing and safety of all students is at the forefront of all that they do and every decision that they make.

Child Safety Standards

The College’s Child Safety Program has been developed consistent with the broader context of the Victorian Child Safe Standards.

The Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) monitors and enforces compliance with the Victorian Child Safe Standards for all registered schools in Victoria.

Child Safety Codes of Conduct

Our Child Safety Codes of Conduct sets boundaries and expectations for appropriate behaviours between adults in our college community and students, including in physical, online and virtual environments. We also have a Student Wellbeing and Behaviour Guidelines, which includes standards of behaviour for students relevant to child safety and wellbeing.

Our Child Safety Codes of Conduct include clear processes to report inappropriate behaviour.

 

Cultural Safety

At My College, we are committed to establishing an inclusive and culturally safe environment where the strengths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, values and practices are respected.

We identify, confront, and do not tolerate racism, and we address any instances of racism within the school environment with appropriate consequences.

We think about how every student can have a positive experience in a safe environment.  For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, we recognise the link between culture, identity and safety and actively create opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, their families and their communities (including local Aboriginal communities relevant to the College) to have a voice and presence in the College’s planning, policies, and activities.

 

Student Empowerment and Participation

The College is a child safe and child-centred organisation, and we work to create an inclusive and supportive environment that encourages students and families to contribute to our approach to child safety and wellbeing.

We ensure that our physical, virtual and online environments are friendly and welcoming to all children and young people.

We actively seek to include students in decisions that affect them.  This includes decisions about organisational planning, delivery of services, management of facilities, and learning and assessment environments.

We ensure that students know about their rights to safety, information, and participation.  We actively seek to understand what makes students feel safe in our College and regularly communicate with students about what they can do if they feel unsafe.

We recognise the importance of friendships and encourage respectful relationships, strong friendships and support from peers.

 

Diversity and Equity

The College values diversity and does not tolerate any discriminatory practices.  To achieve this, we;

  • support the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their families;

  • support the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and their families;

  • support students with disability and their families and act to promote their participation;

  • support students and families of diverse sexuality and act to promote their participation;

  • seek to recruit a workforce that reflects a diversity of cultures, abilities and identities;

  • ensure that all Staff, Direct Contact Volunteers and Direct Contact Contractors have training about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, disability, culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, and those with particular experiences or needs;

  • have a physical environment that actively celebrates diverse cultures and recognises cultural difference; and

  • commit to promoting the inclusion of students of differing abilities.

Embedding Child Safety

In creating a child safe culture, the College recognises the importance of embedding child safety into other College practices.  The College employs a range of human resources management strategies to promote child safety and wellbeing, including;

  • making our commitment to child safety and wellbeing clear in recruitment advertising and documentation;

  • requiring all Staff and relevant Volunteers and Contractors to maintain a valid VIT Registration or WWC (working with children) clearance, and sighting, verifying and recording this information;

  • using additional selection, background checking and screening processes that take into account child safety considerations;

  • child safety induction and annual training programs, which include information about our child safety policies, practices and procedures; and

  • provision of information to all members of the College community about the Child Safe Codes of Conduct and how to report child safety incidents or concerns to the College and to relevant external authorities.

 

Complaints and Reporting Processes: The College’s Response to Child Safety Incidents or Concerns

My College fosters a culture that encourages everyone in the College community to raise concerns and complaints about child safety and wellbeing.  We have clear pathways for raising complaints and concerns set out in the procedures below, and in our Complaints and Grievances Policy and Procedures.

We also have clear procedures that all Staff, Volunteers and Contractors must follow whenever they witness, suspect or receive a complaint about a child safety incident or concern involving a student, a staff member, a Volunteer, a Contractor or the College, set out in the Child Safety training.  These are summarised for students, parents/carers and other members of the College community in our public-facing Procedures for Responding to and Reporting Child Safety Incidents or Concerns and public-facing Procedures for Managing Child Safety Incidents or Concerns At or Involving the School or its Staff.

The College will take appropriate, prompt action in response to all child safety incidents or concerns, including all complaints, allegations or disclosures of abuse or other harm, when staff, volunteers, contractors, students, parents/carers or anyone else reports these to the College.

The safety and wellbeing of the student/s involved in the matter will be the paramount consideration when responding to child safety incidents and concerns. The College follows the National Office of Child Safety’s Complaint Handling Guide: Upholding the rights of children and young people and the Commission for Children and Young People’s Including Children and Young People in Reportable Conduct Investigations resources when investigating and responding to child safety incidents and concerns.

The College’s response will include:

  • externally reporting all matters that meet the required relevant thresholds to Child Safety (Mandatory Reports), the Police (Mandatory Reporting of Child Sexual Abuse), the CCYP (Reportable Conduct), and/or the Victorian Institute of Teaching (Teacher Misconduct), depending on the issues raised;

  • fully cooperating with any resulting investigation by an external agency;

  • protecting any student connected to the child safety incident or concern until it is resolved and providing ongoing support to those affected;

  • taking particular measures in response to child safety incidents or concerns about an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student, a student from a culturally and linguistically diverse background, a student with disability, and other vulnerable students;

  • sharing information with, or requesting information from, external people or agencies as permitted or required under the Child Information Sharing Scheme and/or the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme;

  • securing and retaining records of the child safety incident or concern and the College’s response to it; and

  • taking broader actions to improve child safety at the College (including systemic reviews and resulting improvements).

 

Child Safety Risk Management

My College recognises the importance of a risk management approach to child safety and to minimising the risk of harm to children and young people without compromising their rights to privacy, access to information, social connections and learning opportunities.

We identify, assess and manage child safety risks in all College environments, based on a range of factors including the nature of our College’s activities, their physical, virtual and online environments and the characteristics of our students and boarding students.  We use this information to inform our policies, procedures and activity planning.

We record identified risks to child safety and wellbeing in our Child Safety Risk Register, along with the actions in place at the College to manage these risks. The Child safety committee evaluate the effectiveness of these actions at least annually.

 

Child Safety Privacy and Information Sharing

The College collects, uses and discloses information about students and their families in accordance with Victorian privacy laws and other relevant laws, including laws that permit the College to disclose information about child safety and wellbeing to external people and agencies.

 

Child Safety Record Keeping

The College is committed to best practice record keeping about child safety incidents and concerns in accordance with Public Record Office Victoria Recordkeeping Standards (including minimum retention periods).

When keeping records of child safety incidents or concerns, the College maintains confidentiality and privacy for students and families in accordance with federal and state privacy legislation.

Communications

My College is committed to communicating our child safety and wellbeing strategies, policies and procedures to our College community.  In addition, we:

  • display PROTECT posters around the College;

  • provide child safety information and updates through term letters from the Principal, Campus newsletters or notifications through the Classdojo/Compass communication platform; and

  • include child safety as a regular agenda item at Child safety committee meetings and staff meetings.

 

Child Safety Program and Practice Review

My College is committed to the continuous improvement of the policies and procedures making up our entire Child Safety Training and of our child safety and wellbeing practices.  We review the Program as a whole annually (or earlier if a significant child safety incident occurs at the College or legislation changes) for overall effectiveness and to ensure compliance with all child safety and wellbeing related laws, regulations and standards.

When undertaking these reviews, the College:

  • actively seeks, actions, and incorporates feedback from students, families, the wider College community, Staff, Volunteers and Contractors;

  • analyses any complaints and child safety incidents that may have occurred;

  • communicates any learnings, adjustments or amendments to policy and practice widely throughout the College community.

 

Reporting Child Safety Incidents or Concerns to the College

Whenever there are concerns that a child or young person is in immediate danger call the Police on 000.

Any person, including all staff, volunteers, contractors, parents/carers and students, can at any time report concerns about the wellbeing of a child aged under 17 to Child Protection by:

  • during business hours (8:45am-5:00pm, Monday to Friday), contacting the Child Protection intake service for the local government area where the child resides, listed here,

  • after hours, telephoning 13 12 78.

Otherwise, a summary of the College’s procedures can be found at the following pages;

  • Procedures for Responding to and Reporting Child Safety Incidents or Concerns , and

  • Procedures for Managing Child Safety Incidents or Concerns at or Involving the School or its Staff.

 

The College’s Response to and External Reporting of Child Safety Incidents

or Concerns

Our Child Safety Program sets out the procedures that the College will follow for any child safety incident or concern involving a student, College staff, volunteer, contractor or visitor, or other person connected to the College or the College environment.

It also provides guidance for all staff, volunteers and contractors on their obligations to respond to and report, to relevant external authorities, child safety incidents and concerns.

These procedures and guidance are summarised in our public-facing Procedures for Responding to and Reporting Child Safety Incidents or Concerns and public-facing Procedures for Managing Child Safety Incidents or Concerns At or Involving the School or its Staff.

 

Support for Students, Families and Staff Following Child Safety Incident or

Disclosure

Child safety incidents or concerns can cause trauma and significantly impact on the mental health and wellbeing of children, as well as on their families.  In addition to reporting and referral to the relevant authorities, the College plays a central role in addressing this trauma and has a duty of care to ensure that students feel safe and supported at College.

The College employs a range of measures to support students affected by a child safety incident or concern depending on the particular circumstances of the matter and of the student and their family:

  • Child Safety committee will work with the student and their family to develop a Student Support Plan

  • support strategies that could be considered for students and/or their families might also include offering or organising referrals to internal or external support, such as the College counsellor, psychologists, translators, or an external support agency and/or child advocacy organisation which specialises in supporting children and young people impacted by abuse or other harm.

The College offers former students who may disclose historical child safety incidents or concerns from their time at the College similar support.

Witnessing a child safety incident or receiving a disclosure of abuse or other harm can be a distressing experience for staff, volunteers and contractors involved. The College assists impacted staff, volunteers, and contractors to access necessary support.

Implementation

The Child Safe Policy is published on our College’s public website.

It is provided to new staff, and to Direct Contact and Regular Volunteers, and Direct Contact and Regular Contractors at their induction or prior to them commencing their work at the College.

The College provides all visitors to the College, including Casual Volunteers and Casual Contractors, with information about the Child Safe Policy (including, in particular, the Child Safety Codes of Conduct and how to report child safety incidents or concerns to the College and to relevant external authorities).

 

Breach of the Child Safe Policy

The College enforces this Child Safe Policy and our Child Safety Codes of Conduct.  In the event of any non-compliance, we will instigate a review that may result in a range of measures including (depending on the severity of the breach):

  • remedial education;

  • counselling;

  • increased supervision;

  • the restriction of duties;

  • suspension; or

  • in the case of serious breaches, termination of employment, contract or engagement.

 

Source of Obligation

The Child Safe Policy implements, and is to be read and understood in conjunction with:

  • Victorian Child Safe Standards, Standard 2, and

  • Ministerial Order 1359, Clause 6.

Policy Review

A review of the Child Safe Policy is conducted annually or earlier if required, such as if a significant child safety incident occurs at the College or due to changes in legislation.

The child safety committee is responsible for ensuring that this Policy is reviewed and updated as needed and for approving this Policy.

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