Child Safe Environment Policy
Mandatory – Quality Area 2
This policy provides a clear set of guidelines and procedures for [Service Name] to:
This policy applies to the Approved Provider, Persons with Management or Control, Nominated Supervisor, Persons in day-to-day Charge, staff, contractors, volunteers, students on placement, parents/guardians, children and others attending the programs and activities of [Service Name], including during offsite excursions and activities.
Contactors, volunteers and students, while at the service, are responsible for following this policy and its procedures.
To assess whether the values and purposes of the policy have been achieved, the Approved Provider or Persons with Management or Control will:
This policy was adopted by the Approved Provider of [Service Name] on .
Attachment 1: Background, definitions, sources and service policies
BACKGROUND AND LEGISLATION
A key requirement of the National Law is to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children attending education and care services (section 51). Every reasonable precaution must be taken to protect children being educated and cared for by the service from harm and from any hazard likely to cause injury (section 167).
Under the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011, the approved provider of an education and care service must ensure that the nominated supervisors and staff members at the service who work with children are advised of:
Under the National Quality Standards, management, educators and staff are required to be aware of their roles and responsibilities to identify and respond to every child at risk of abuse or neglect (element 2.2.3). At all times, reasonable precautions and adequate supervision must be provided to ensure children are protected from harm and hazard (element 2.2.1).
Children’s services operating under the Children’s Services Act 1996 must be operated in a way that ensures the safety of the children being cared for or educated, supports the health and wellbeing of those children and ensures the developmental needs of those children are met (section25E). The proprietor of a children’s service must ensure that every reasonable precaution is taken to protect children being cared for or educated by the service from harm and from any hazard likely to cause injury (section 26).
The Approved Provider, Persons with Management Control, Nominated Supervisor, Persons in Day-to-Day Charge, staff, contractors and volunteers of early childhood services have legal and duty of care obligations to protect children under their supervision and care.
Duty of care obligations (refer to Definitions) require the Approved Provider, Person with Management or Control, Nominated Supervisor, Persons in Day-to-Day Charge, and staff to take reasonable steps to protect children from injury that is reasonably foreseeable.
In addition, organisations have a duty of care to take reasonable precautions to prevent the abuse of a child by an individual associated with the organisation while the child is under its care, supervision or authority (refer to Organisational duty of care in Definitions).
The duty will relate to individuals associated with an organisation, including but not limited to committee members, employees, volunteers and contractors.
The Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 provides the legislative basis for the provision of services to vulnerable children, young people and their families, and places children’s best interests at the heart of decision-making and service delivery.
Any person who forms a reasonable belief (refer to Definitions), that a child is in need of protection may report their concerns to the Child Protection (refer to Definitions).
Early childhood teachers are required to be registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching and are mandatory reporters (refer to Definitions). In addition, all educators with post-secondary qualifications in the care, education or minding of children and employed or engaged in an education and care service or a children’s service and all proprietors, nominees of a children’s service, approved providers, and nominated supervisors of an education and care service are mandatory reporters.
All mandatory reporters must make a report to Victoria Police and/or Child Protection (refer to Definitions) as soon as practicable if, during the course of their roles and responsibilities they form a reasonable belief that:
Victorian organisations that provide services to children are required under the Child Safety and Wellbeing Act 2005 to ensure that they implement compulsory minimum Child Safe Standards to protect children from harm. The standards aim to drive continuous improvement in the way services prevent and report child abuse and respond to allegations of child abuse. Standard 2 requires services to have a child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety.
Three criminal offences in the Crimes Amendment (Protection of Children) Act 2014 protect children from child abuse:
Legislation and standards
Relevant legislation and standards include but are not limited to:
Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic)
Child Safety and Wellbeing Act 2005 (Vic)
Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)
Child Safe Standards (Vic)
Crimes Amendment (Protection of Children) Act 2014 (Vic)
Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (Vic): including but not limited to Sections 165, 166, 167
Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011 (Vic): including but not limited to Regulations 84, 85, 86, 99, 100, 101, 102, 168(2) (h)
Education Training and Reform Act 2006 (Vic) (As amended in 2014)
Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
National Quality Standard, including Quality Area 2: Children’s Health and Safety
Reportable Conduct Scheme administered by the Commission for Children and Young People (Vic)
Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic)
Working with Children Regulations 2006 (Vic)
Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic)
The terms defined in this section relate specifically to this policy. For commonly used terms e.g. Approved Provider, Nominated Supervisor, Regulatory Authority etc. refer to the General Definitions section of this manual.
Abuse: see Child abuse definition below.
Child: A child or young person is a person under 18 years of age.
Child abuse: (In the context of this policy) refers to an act or omission by an adult that endangers or impairs a child’s physical and/or emotional health or development. Child abuse can be a single incident but often takes place over time. Abuse, neglect and maltreatment (refer to Definitions) are generic terms used to describe situations in which a child may need protection. Child abuse includes any and all of the following:
Physical abuse: When a child suffers or is likely to suffer significant harm from an injury inflicted by a parent/guardian, caregiver or other adult. The injury may be inflicted intentionally, or be the consequence of physical punishment or the physically aggressive treatment of a child. Physical injury and significant harm to a child can also result from neglect by a parent/guardian, caregiver or other adult. The injury may take the form of bruises, cuts, burns or fractures, poisoning, internal injuries, shaking injuries or strangulation.
Sexual abuse: When a person uses power or authority over a child, or inducements such as money or special attention, to involve the child in sexual activity. It includes a wide range of sexual behaviour from inappropriate touching/fondling of a child or exposing a child to pornography, to having sex with a child and grooming with the intent of committing child sexual abuse.
Emotional and psychological abuse: When a child's parent or caregiver repeatedly rejects the child or uses threats to frighten the child. This may involve name calling, put downs or continual coldness from the parent or caregiver, to the extent that it significantly damages the child's physical, social, intellectual or emotional development.
Neglect: The failure to provide a child with the basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical attention or supervision, to the extent that the child’s health and development is, or is likely to be, significantly harmed.
Family violence: When children and young people witness or experience the chronic, repeated domination, coercion, intimidation and victimisation of one person by another through physical, sexual and/or emotional means within intimate relationships. Contrary to popular belief, witnessing episodes of violence between people they love can affect young children as much as if they were the victims of the violence. Children who witness regular acts of violence have greater emotional and behavioural problems than other children.
Racial, cultural, religious abuse: Conduct that demonstrates contempt, ridicule, hatred or negativity towards a child because of their race, culture or religion. It may be overt, such as direct racial vilification or discrimination, or covert, such as demonstrating a lack of cultural respect (attitude and values) and awareness (knowledge and understanding) or failing to provide positive images about another culture.
Bullying: Repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological behaviour that is harmful and involves the misuse of power by an individual or group towards one or more persons. Bullying occurs when one or more people deliberately and repeatedly upset or hurt another person, damage their property, reputation or social acceptance.
Child FIRST: A Victorian community-based intake and referral service linked with Family Services. Child FIRST ensures that vulnerable children, young people and their families are effectively linked to relevant services, including Child Protection.
Child sex offender: Someone who sexually abuses children, and who may or may not have prior convictions.
Child protection: The term used to describe the whole-of-community approach to the prevention of harm to children. It includes strategic action for early intervention, for the protection of those considered most vulnerable and for responses to all forms of abuse.
Child protection notification: A notification to the Child Protection Service by a person who believes that a child is in need of protection.
Child Protection Service (also referred to as Child Protection): The statutory child protection service provided by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, to protect children and young people at risk of abuse and neglect. This service also works closely with Family Services (including Child FIRST) to support the assessment and engagement of vulnerable children and families in community-based services. Code of conduct: A set of rules or practices that establish a standard of behaviour to be followed by individuals and organisations. A code of conduct defines how individuals should behave towards each other and towards other organisations and individuals in the community (refer to Code of Conduct Policy).
Contractor: A person or company that undertakes a contract to provide materials or labour to perform a service or do a job. Examples include photographer, tradesperson, people contracted to provide an incursion.
Disclosure: (In the context of this policy) refers to a statement that a child or young person makes to another person that describes or reveals abuse.
Duty of care: A common law concept that refers to the responsibilities of organisations and staff to provide people with an adequate level of protection against harm and all reasonable foreseeable risk of injury. In the context of this policy, duty of care refers to the responsibility of education and care services and their staff to provide children with an adequate level of care and protection against foreseeable harm and injury.
Head of organisation: The heads of organisations under the Reportable Conduct Scheme are required to have systems in place to prevent reportable conduct within their organisation, and systems to enable staff to make reportable allegations. The head of organisation has the powers of the employer. A CEO or Principle Officer is a head of organisation. For stand-alone kindergartens, the head of organisation will usually be the president or another office bearer who consents to the nomination.
Maltreatment: (In the context of this policy) refers to physical and/or emotional mistreatment, and/or lack of care of the child. Examples include sexual abuse, the witnessing of family violence and any non-accidental injury to a child.
Mandatory reporting: The legal obligation of certain professionals and community members to report when they believe, on reasonable grounds, that a child is in need of protection from harm.
A broad range of professional groups are identified in the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 as ‘mandatory reporters’, including:
Mandated staff members must make a report to Victoria Police and/or Child Protection as soon as is practicable if, during the course of acting out their professional roles and responsibilities, they form a belief on reasonable grounds (refer to Definitions) that:
Mandatory reporters must also follow processes for responding to incidents, disclosures or suspicions of child abuse to fulfil all their legal obligations (refer to Attachment 4: Processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse).
Neglect: see Child abuse definition above.
Negligence: Doing, or failing to do something that a reasonable person would, or would not do in a certain situation, and which causes another person damage, injury or loss as a result.
Notifiable complaint: A complaint that alleges a breach of the Act or Regulation, or alleges that the safety, health or wellbeing of a child at the service may have been compromised. Any complaint of this nature must be reported by the Approved Provider to the secretary of DET within 24 hours of the complaint being made (Section 174(2) (b), Regulation 176(2) (b)).
Written notification of complaints must be submitted via the ACECQA portal National Quality Agenda (NQA) IT System. If the Approved Provider is unsure whether the matter is a notifiable complaint, it is good practice to contact DET for confirmation.
Orange Door: A free service for adults, children and young people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence and families who need extra support with the care of children.
Organisational duty of care: The statutory duty organisations have to take reasonable precautions to prevent sexual and/or physical abuse of a child.
Offender: A person who mistreats and/or harms a child or young person.
Perpetrator: A person who mistreats and/or harms a child or young person.
Reasonable belief/reasonable grounds: A person may form a belief on reasonable grounds that a child or young person is in need of protection after becoming aware that the child or young person’s safety, health or wellbeing is at risk and the child’s parents/guardians are unwilling or unable to protect them. There may be reasonable grounds for forming such a belief if:
Reportable allegation: any allegation that an employee, volunteer or student has committed child abuse (refer to Definitions)
Serious incident: A serious incident (regulation 12) is defined as any of the following:
Examples of serious incidents include amputation (e.g. removal of fingers), anaphylactic reaction requiring hospitalisation, asthma requiring hospitalisation, broken bone/fractures, bronchiolitis, burns, diarrhoea requiring hospitalisation, epileptic seizures, head injuries, measles, meningococcal infection, sexual assault, witnessing violence or a frightening event.
If the approved provider is not aware that the incident was serious until sometime after the incident, they must notify the regulatory authority within 24 hours of becoming aware that the incident was serious.
Notifications of serious incidents should be made through the NQA IT System portal (www.acecqa.gov.au). If this is not practicable, the notification can be made initially in whatever way is best in the circumstances.
Volunteer: Parent/guardian, family member or community member who attends the service to assist the service in some capacity.
Young person: In Victoria, under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, a child or young person is a person under 18 years of age.
SOURCES AND RELATED POLICIES
Australian Human Rights Commission: www.humanrights.gov.au
Betrayal of Trust Implementation: www.justice.vic.gov.au
Better Health Channel: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic): www.legislation.vic.gov.au
Choose With Care: Child Protection – an information and training program: www.childwise.net
Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP): https://ccyp.vic.gov.au/
National Children’s Commissioner: www.humanrights.gov.au
Department of Education and Training’s Protect Portal: www.education.vic.gov.au
Safe Supportive Schools Community Working Group: https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/
Service Agreement Information Kit for Funded Organisations:
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: www.unicef.org
Victorian Institute of Teaching: www.vit.vic.edu.au
Working with Children (WWC) Check: www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au
Acceptance and Refusal of Authorisations Policy
Code of Conduct Policy
Complaints and Grievances Policy
Delivery and Collection of Children Policy
Incident, Injury, Trauma and Illness Policy
Inclusion and Equity Policy
Interactions with Children Policy
Participation of Volunteers and Students Policy
Privacy and Confidentiality Policy
Supervision of Children Policy
Guidelines for incorporation of child safety into the recruitment and management of staff
The following guidelines and processes for the incorporation of child safety into the recruitment and management of staff demonstrate [Service Name]’s commitment to maximising the safety of children and deterring unsuitable and inappropriate persons from attempting to work at our service.
Guidelines for incorporation of child safety into the recruitment and management of contractors, volunteers and students
The following guidelines and processes for the recruitment and management of contractors (refer to Definitions), volunteers (refer to Definitions) and students demonstrates [Service Name]’s commitment to maximising the safety of children and deterring unsuitable and inappropriate persons from attempting to work, volunteer or be on student placement at our service.
Processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse
It is very important to validate a child’s disclosure, by listening to the child, taking them seriously and responding and acting on the disclosure by implementing the [Service Name]’s reporting procedures.
There are two types of notifications to be made in relation to significant concerns for the safety or wellbeing of a child: a referral to Child FIRST (Family Services) or a report to Child Protection (see below).
A referral to Child FIRST or Orange Door (refer to Definitions) should be made if the Approved Provider/staff member has significant concerns for a child’s wellbeing and the child is not in immediate need of protection. This may include circumstances when there are:
Child FIRST/Orange Door ensures that vulnerable children, young people and their families are linked effectively into relevant services, and this may be the best way to connect children, young people and their families with the services they need.
A report to Child Protection should be made if, after taking into account the available information, the staff member forms a view that the child is in need of protection because:
Upon receipt of a credible report, Child Protection will seek further information, often from professionals who may already be involved with the child or family, to determine whether further action is required. In determining what steps to take, Child Protection will also consider any concerns previously reported with regard to the child or young person. In most circumstances, Child Protection will inform the notifier of the outcome of investigations.
When reporting concerns of child abuse and/or neglect, it is important to remember that:
Parents/guardians should only be advised that a notification has been made after discussion with DHHS Child Protection or Victoria Police to determine what information can be shared.
The Reportable Conduct Scheme
The Approved Provider must initially notify the Commission for Children and Young People of a reportable allegation (refer to Definitions) within three business days and update the Commission of progress within 30 calendar days. ‘
The Approved Provider must also investigate the reportable allegation and provide the findings of the investigation to the Commission. The service must also respond to the Commission when contacted for information.
Support when making a report
Making the decision to report can be a challenging and it is important to make use of available supports to guide your practice. Support is available from:
Department of Education and Training PROTECT Portal: www.education.vic.gov.au
The Department of Education and Training’s PROTECT portal provides tools and resources to assist professionals and early years services to respond to child abuse or potential child abuse, including:
Commission for Children and Young People: www.ccyp.vic.gov.au
The Reportable Conduct Scheme was phased in from 1 July 2017 and is administered by the Commission for Children and Young People.