Statement of Commitment to Child Safety

River Gum Primary School is committed to safety and wellbeing of all children and young people.

This will be the primary focus of our care and decision-making. River Gum Primary School has zero tolerance for child abuse. River Gum Primary School is committed to providing a child safe environment where children and young people are safe and feel safe, and their voices are heard about decisions that affect their lives.

Particular attention will be paid to the cultural safety of Aboriginal children and children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, as well as the safety of children with a disability.

Every person involved in River Gum Primary School has a responsibility to understand the important and specific role he/she plays individually and collectively to ensure that the wellbeing and safety of all children and young people is at the forefront of all they do and every decision they make.

Child Safe Code of Conduct - Download

All staff, volunteers and members of the governing authority of River Gum Primary School are required to observe child safe principles and expectations for appropriate behaviour towards and in the company of children, as noted below.

All personnel of River Gum Primary School are responsible for supporting the safety, participation, wellbeing and empowerment of children by:
  • adhering to River Gum Primary School child safe policy at all times / upholding River Gum Primary School statement of commitment to child safety at all time
  • taking all reasonable steps to protect children from abuse
  • treating everyone with respect
  • listening and responding to the views and concerns of children, particularly if they are telling you that they or another child has been abused and/or are worried about their safety or the safety of another
  • promoting the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of Aboriginal children (for example, by never questioning an Aboriginal child’s self-identification)
  • promoting the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of children with culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds (for example, by having a zero tolerance of discrimination)
  • promoting the safety, participation and empowerment of children with a disability (for example, during personal care activities)
  • ensuring as far as practicable that adults are not left alone with a child
  • reporting any allegations of child abuse to River Gum Primary School leadership, and ensure any allegation to reported to the police or child protection
  • reporting any child safety concerns to River Gum Primary School leadership
  • if an allegation of child abuse is made, ensure as quickly as possible that the child(ren) are safe
  • encouraging children to ‘have a say’ and participate in all relevant organisational activities where possible, especially on issues that are important to them.
Staff and volunteers must not:
  • develop any ‘special’ relationships with children that could be seen as favouritism (for example, the offering of gifts or special treatment for specific children)
  • exhibit behaviours with children which may be construed as unnecessarily physical (for example inappropriate sitting on laps. Sitting on laps could be appropriate sometime, for example while reading a storybook to a small child in an open plan area)
  • put children at risk of abuse (for example, by locking doors)
  • do things of a personal nature that a child can do for themselves, such as toileting or changing clothes
  • engage in open discussions of a mature or adult nature in the presence of children (for example, personal social activities)
  • use inappropriate language in the presence of children
  • express personal views on cultures, race or sexuality in the presence of children
  • discriminate against any child, including because of culture, race, ethnicity or disability
  • have contact with a child or their family outside of our organisation without our child safety officer’s knowledge and/or consent (for example, no babysitting). Accidental contact, such as seeing people in the street, is appropriate)
  • have any online contact with a child or their family (unless necessary, for example providing families with e-newsletters) link to ICT policy
  • ignore or disregard any suspected or disclosed child abuse

Child Safe Policy – Download

RIVER GUM PRIMARY’S COMMITMENT TO CHILD SAFETY

In line with Ministerial Order No 870 (available at www.vrqa.gov.au/childsafe), River Gum Primary school has developed a Policy and Code of conduct to ensure child safety.

Our organisation is committed to child safety. Ensuring safety of children is everybody’s responsibility and everybody’s business. We aim to create a culture where protection of children from abuse is part of our everyday thinking and practice. We want children to be safe, happy and empowered. We support and respect all children, as well as our staff and volunteers.

We are committed to the safety, participation and empowerment of all children. We have zero tolerance of child abuse, and all allegations and safety concerns will be treated very seriously and consistently with our robust policies and procedures. Ensuring children’s safety is a top priority for us at River Gum Primary School.

We have legal and moral obligations to contact authorities when we are worried about a child’s safety, which we follow rigorously.

Our organisation is committed to preventing child abuse and identifying risks early, and removing and reducing these risks. Our organisation has robust human resources and recruitment practices for all staff and volunteers. Our organisations is committed to regularly training and educating our staff and volunteers on child abuse risks.

We support and respect all children, as well as our staff and volunteers. We are committed to the cultural safety of Aboriginal children, the cultural safety of children from a culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, and to providing a safe environment for children with a disability.

We have specific policies, procedures and training in place 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.

There are SEVEN STANDARDS as outlined in the Ministerial order, as scribed below.

STANDARD 1

Organisations must have strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements.

STANDARD 2

Organisations must have a child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety.

STANDARD 3

Organisations must have a code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children.

STANDARD 4

Organisations must have screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel.

STANDARD 5

Organisations must have processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse.

STANDARD 6

Organisations must have strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse.

STANDARD 7

Organisations must have strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.

OUR CHILDREN

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 with children in our organisation. All of our staff and volunteers must agree to abide by our code of conduct which specifies the standards of conduct required when working with children. All staff and volunteers, as well as children and their families, are given the opportunity to contribute to the development of the code of conduct.

TRAINING AND SUPERVISION

Training and education is important 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 risks of child abuse and to detect potential signs of child abuse.

We also support our staff and volunteers through ongoing 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 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 employ skilled people to work with children. We develop selection criteria and advertisements which clearly 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 as well as 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, are required to hold a Working with Children Check and to provide evidence of this Check. We carry out reference checks and police record checks to ensure that we are recruiting the right people. Police record checks are used only for the purposes of recruitment and are discarded after the recruitment process is complete. We do retain our own records (but not the actual criminal record) if an applicant’s criminal history affected our decision making process. If during the recruitment process a person’s records indicate a criminal history then the person will be given the opportunity to provide further information and context.

FAIR PROCEDURES FOR PERSONNEL

The safety and wellbeing of children is our primary concern. 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 based on evidence. 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 as an organisation take.

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. • 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.

The Crimes Amendment (Grooming) Act 2014, introduces the offence of Grooming for sexual conduct with a child under the age of 16 years. If you develop reasonable belief this is a reportable offence.

• Any personnel who are mandatory reporters must comply with their duties.

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 organisations on social media).

REGULAR REVIEW

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 disability.

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 all children, families, staff and volunteers know what to do and who to tell if they observe abuse or are a victim, and 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).

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 • someone else has raised a suspicion of abuse but is unwilling to report it • observing suspicious behaviour.