APPROACH: POLICY

CHILD SAFETY POLICY

CHILD SAFETY POLICY

Introduction

The protection of children and young persons is the responsibility of everyone who works at Kamaruka Education Centre, including its staff, contractors, parents and volunteers. We all share responsibility for promoting the wellbeing and safety of children.

Kamaruka Education Centre has zero tolerance for child abuse and is committed to acting in the best interests of children and to keeping them safe at all times.

CCTV cameras provide a security reference in all classrooms, public areas and access hallways.

Commitment

Kamaruka Education Centre and its Advisory Committee are committed to:

  • promoting child safety in its School environment.
     
  • ensuring the safety and best interests of the children in its care. There is particular attention paid to the most vulnerable children, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, and children with a disability. The ASD diagnosis of a large proportion of students at Kamaruka makes them soft targets for abuse.
     
  • a zero tolerance to child abuse.
     
  • listening to children and young people and empowering them by taking their views seriously, and addressing any concerns that they raise with us.
     
  • teaching children and young people the necessary skills and knowledge to understand and maintain their personal safety and wellbeing. This is achieved through workshops conducted at school by external agencies such as Family First.
     
  • making students aware of the Child Safety Standards through discussion in the weekly Social Skills class, posters directing students to external help such as Kids Helpline and a Flow Chart in each classroom outlining the reporting process.
     
  • implementing and continuously improving procedures and systems that promote and influence an organizational culture of child safety and that provides a safe environment for our students.
     

Ensuring child safety is about balancing expectations and complying with legal obligations. It is not about creating an atmosphere of suspicion.

It is the role of the Advisory Committee and the principal to monitor Kamaruka Education Centre’s adherence to this policy. This will be done by:

  • recording the details of any alleged abuse on the Daily Report Sheet and writing up an Incident Report which is tabled in the Incident Report Folder stored in the principal’s office.
     
  • ensuring that child safety is a regular agenda item at Advisory Committee meetings
     
  • having the principal and other responsible staff report regularly to the Advisory Committee and tabling Incident Reports in the minutes of Advisory Committee meetings.
     
  • consideration by the principal, responsible staff members and the Advisory Committee of areas for continual improvement.
     

Our commitment to parents and guardians

  1. We commit to communicating honestly and openly with parents and carers about the wellbeing and safety of their children.
     
  2. We commit to engaging with, and listening to, the views of parents and carers about our child safety practice, policies and procedures.
     
  3. We commit to transparency in our decision making with parents and carers where it will not compromise the safety of children or young people.
     
  4. We commit to acknowledging the cultural diversity of students and families, and being sensitive to how this may impact on student safety issues.
     
  5. We commit to continuously reviewing and improving our systems to protect children from abuse
     

Roles and responsibilities

Everyone involved at the Kamaruka Education Centre has a role to play and is responsible for protecting children and upholding the duty of care that Kamaruka Education Centre owes to all of its students.

All staff, contractors and volunteers have a duty of care to protect children from harm and a responsibility to comply with the school’s child safe standards policies and procedures.

The Kamaruka Advisory Committee is responsible for authorising the child safe standards policy, for overseeing its implementation and for managing the risk of child abuse.

The role of the principal:

  • The principal is responsible for the culture of the school in which this policy is embedded in the everyday thinking and practice of the school and that children are safe.
     
  • The principal is also responsible for ensuring appropriate arrangements for child safety (including, without limitation, clear and comprehensive policies, procedures, accountability mechanisms and communication strategies) are implemented, monitored and reviewed within the school.
     
  • The principal is responsible for implementing the school’s child safe standards policy and the mandated requirements of Ministerial Order 870.
     
  • The principal is responsible for all aspects of school management including assisting the teacher, child and relevant specialist authorities, if requested
     
  • The principal must ensure that the school’s pastoral care and/or curriculum structures address the issue of child abuse and neglect and protective behaviours.
     
  • The principal must ensure that all staff members receive appropriate training in the detection and reporting of child sexual and physical abuse.
     
  • In the case of an allegation made against a staff member or volunteer, it is the principal who is required to make the report to Victoria Police and advise the Kamaruka Advisory Committee, Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) and Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) of the outcome of the investigation.
     
  • The principal, assisted by the mandatory reporter, must retain records of all communication with DHHS Child Protection, Child FIRST, Victoria Police the Kamaruka Advisory Committee, Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) and Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) and the subsequent actions, of which he/she is privy. All records must be stored in a secure place to ensure confidentiality and kept separate from any other file on the student. There should be an indication on the student’s general file that other confidential records are being kept separately without revealing the nature of those records.
     

Where the principal is suspected of breaching any obligation, duty or responsibility within this policy, the concerned party is advised to contact the school psychologist or Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) for procedural advice.

Values and Principles

The following values and principles will guide Kamaruka Education Centre in implementing consistent policies and influence an organizational culture of child safety:

  • Child safety policies and procedures will support ongoing assessment and identification and minimization of the risk of child abuse in the school environment.
     
  • Our culture will foster openness so that all persons, and particularly children, may feel safe to disclose concerns or risks of harm to children.
     
  • Appropriate conduct and behaviour towards children will be expected at all times.
     
  • Policies will support the processes that assist the school to engage the most appropriate personnel to work with children.
     
  • Regular staff training will occur to ensure there is a full awareness and understanding of policies and processes.
     
  • Suspected or actual abuse of children will be reported promptly to the appropriate authorities.
     
  • Support and assistance will be provided to children who have suffered abuse and to their families. (Refer to Procedures).
     

Recruitment

Kamaruka Education Centre will implement recruitment processes that will assist in the effective selection of suitable personnel, including staff, volunteers and contractors.

These processes will ensure:

  • new and existing staff, volunteers and contractors understand the importance of child safety and are aware of Kamaruka Education Centre’s policies and procedures
     
  • each job or category of job for school staff that involves child-connected work has a clear statement, which includes the job’s requirements, duties and responsibilities regarding child safety and the essential or relevant qualifications, experience and attributes in relation to child safety
     
  • compliance with school policy for recruitment and selection of staff for obtaining, verifying and recording information about a person whom it proposes to engage to perform child-connected work, including processes for screening and background checks
     
  • induction of new staff, volunteers and contractors into the school’s policies, codes, practices and procedures governing child safety and child-connected work
     
  • a staff member’s continuing suitability for child-connected work is monitored and assessed.
     

All applicants for jobs that involve child-connected work for Kamaruka Education Centre must be informed about the School’s Child Safety practices and its Child Safety Code of Conduct.

Kamaruka Education Centre will implement practices that enable the principal to be satisfied that people engaged in child-connected work for the school perform appropriately in relation to child safety.

Procedures for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse

Kamaruka Education Centre will implement and continually improve its procedures for responding to and reporting suspected abuse of a child currently in its care. Kamaruka Education Centre will also implement practices and programs that will support, encourage and enable school staff, parents and children to understand, identify, discuss and report child safety matters.

Our procedures will be based on the following:

  • compliance with mandatory reporting laws and obligations imposed by the criminal law to report a belief that child abuse may have occurred.
     
  • ensuring any situation is handled appropriately.
     
  • concerns of child abuse are reported to the Victoria police and relevant authorities.
     
  • Kamaruka Education Centre provides support to the person/s making allegations of child abuse.
     
  • all parties involved in an allegation of child abuse are treated fairly and consistently.
     
  • clarity as to who should notify any concerns and who to notify within the school administration.
     
  • what processes should be followed during and after an investigation.
     
  • ensuring that reviewing and improving our processes is continuous.
     
  • they will be easily accessible for all persons within Kamaruka Education Centre and they will be simple and easy to understand for children.
     

Kamaruka Education Centre will support or assist children who disclose child abuse, or are otherwise linked to suspected child abuse, by:

  • ensuring they have access to school support personnel, such as the school psychologist or an independent supportive adult of their choice to be present at the interview process.
     
  • ensuring their situation is treated confidentially and with sensitivity.
     
  • ensuring they have all the necessary staff support around them and are given due consideration for and necessary adjustments in the curriculum and co-curriculum programs.
     
  • providing such other support or assistance as may be reasonable.
     

Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.)

In response to the Betrayal of Trust report three new criminal offences have been introduced under the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.):

  • failure to disclose offence, which requires adults to report to the Police a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed against a child
     
  • failure to protect offence, which applies to people in positions of authority within organisations, who knew of a risk of child sexual abuse by someone in the organisation and failed to reduce or remove the risk
     
  • grooming offence, which targets communication with a child or their parents with the intent of committing child sexual abuse.
     

Failure to Disclose

Any school staff member who forms a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed in Victoria by an adult against a child under 16 must disclose that information to Victoria Police.

Failure to disclose the information to the Police is a criminal offence under Section 327 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.) and applies to all adults (18 years and over) in Victoria, not just professionals who work with children.

The obligation is to disclose that information to the Police as soon as it is practicable to do so, except in limited circumstances such as where the information has already been reported to DHHS Child Protection.

Failure to Protect

Any school staff member in a position of authority who becomes aware that an adult associated with their organisation (such as an employee, contractor, volunteer, sport coach or visitor) poses a risk of sexual abuse to a child under 16, who is in the care or supervision of the organisation, must take all reasonable steps to reduce or remove that risk.

Failure to take reasonable steps to protect a child in the organisation from the risk of sexual abuse from an adult associated with the organisation is a criminal offence under Section 49C (2) of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.).

In a school context, this will include the principal and the business manager and may also extend to school counsellors, heads of departments and heads of schools.

Protocol

This protocol is designed to assist principals:

  • to understand and comply with their legal requirements when a request is made by the Police or Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Child Protection workers to interview a student regarding child protection incidents
     
  • to cope with what are often stressful and delicate situations.
     

Background

As law enforcement officers, the Police have broad powers to investigate, question, search and detain. For the most part, the Police will conduct interviews of witnesses and suspects at the Police station. However, there will be rare urgent circumstances in which the Police may wish to interview a student under the age of 18 at school. How this should be approached will depend upon whether the student concerned is:

  • a victim
     
  • a witness
     
  • a suspect.
     

The Police should only interview children at school as a matter of urgency or necessity. DHHS Child Protection workers also have wide powers to investigate and obtain information that is relevant to the protection or development of a child.

Interviews by DHHS Child Protection workers would normally be carried out in the home with parents/carers present but, as for the Police, there will be occasions when Child Protection workers need to interview a child at school as a matter of urgency or necessity.

General Protocols

At Kamaruka, the principal or school psychologist must:

  • facilitate interviews requested by the Police or DHHS Child Protection Workers
     
  • advise children or young people of their right to have an independent supportive adult, parent or carer present at such an interview:
    1. An independent supportive adult may be the principal or a teacher as long as a conflict of interest does not exist.
       
    2. From a practical perspective, this might include a situation where the principal or teacher is related to the perpetrator of the child protection incident, the child is a family member, or the principal or teacher may be the perpetrator.
       

     

  • arrange for the child to choose an independent supportive adult to be present
     
  • balance their obligation to protect the rights of students with their obligation to assist the Police and DHHS Child Protection in their exercise of duty
     
  • ensure there is someone acting as an independent supportive adult for students interviewed at school by the Police or DHHS Child Protection workers
     
  • observe confidentiality at all times in the management of a mandatory reporting or criminal case.
     

If legal assistance is required, contact the ISV in the first instance.

Important: A student being interviewed at school by the Police or DHHS child protection is not permitted unless someone is acting as an independent supportive adult for that student.

Contacting parents/carers prior to Police or DHHS Child Protection interviews

Before contacting parents/carers, the principal or school psychologist must seek advice from the Police or DHHS Child Protection (depending on who the report was made to) to determine if parents/carers should be present at an interview.

In many cases where it is suspected that a child has been, or is at risk of being abused, it is extremely important that parents/carers are notified as soon as practicable. This enables parents/carers to take steps to:

  • prevent or limit their child’s exposure to further abuse
     
  • ensure that their child receives the support that they require.
     

However, there are some circumstances where contacting parents/carers may place a child at greater risk.

This is why before contacting parents/carers the principal or school psychologist must contact the Police or DHHS Child Protection (depending on who the report was made to). They will advise the principal (or delegate) about whether it is appropriate to contact parents/carers at this stage.

Reducing or removing risks of child abuse

At Kamaruka Education Centre we are committed to proactively and systematically identifying and assessing risks to student safety across our whole school environment, and reducing or eliminating (where possible) all potential sources of physical or psychological harm. We document, implement, monitor and periodically review our risk management strategies for child safety and ensure that the strategies change as needed and as new risks arise. Risk management is permanent agenda item at each of our four curriculum days. Any risks to student welfare, be it physical or psychological, are identified at daily staff briefings.

Kamaruka Education Centre will implement appropriate policies and practices for the early identification and response to risks of abuse in its physical and online environment. Such policies and practices will:

  • promote understanding by all Kamaruka Education Centre personnel of its expectations in relation to behaviour and conduct when interacting with children and the consequences of failing to abide by those expectations. (Code of Conduct)
     
  • seek to achieve ongoing risk assessment to identify and mitigate risk in the school’s physical and online environment, taking into account the age and needs of the students, the nature of the activities undertaken at Kamaruka Education Centre and the particular risks they might present.
     
  • provide for ongoing training, education and support for all Kamaruka Education Centre personnel in relation to understanding child abuse, identifying risks and areas for improvement, the school’s policies and practices for reporting concerns of child abuse and how to respond. All new staff are required to sign a declaration that they have read and understood our policies on Mandatory Reporting, Child Safety and Code of Conduct.
     

Promoting child empowerment and participation

The principal and the School Advisory Committee are responsible for developing strategies to deliver appropriate education about:

  • standards of behaviour for students attending Kamaruka Education Centre.
     
  • healthy and respectful relationships (including sexuality).
     
  • resilience.
     
  • child abuse awareness and prevention.
     

Communication

  • The school will make statements to parents when necessary via email to demonstrate its commitment to child safety and to raise an awareness of the school community’s collective responsibility to ensure all children are safe from harm.
     
  • This policy, as with all Kamaruka policies, will be made publically available on the school’s website and from the school office and staff rooms.
     
  • A copy of this policy will be included with all policy documents which are given to parents as part of the enrolment process.
     
  • The school will put in place arrangements to ensure that the school community is informed about the school’s child safe standards policies, procedures and allocated roles and responsibilities.
     
  • All Advisory Committee members, staff, volunteers and contractors of Kamaruka Education Centre will be made aware of this policy and Kamaruka Education Centre ‘s commitment to child safety.
     

Definitions

Child

An individual who is under the age of 18 years or who is enrolled as a student at Kamaruka Education Centre.

Child abuse

Child abuse includes:

  1. any act committed against a child involving-
    1. a sexual offence; or
    2. the offence of grooming; and
  2. the infliction, on a child, of
    1. physical violence; or
    2. serious emotional or psychological harm; and
  3. serious neglect of a child.

Child-connected work

This is work that is authorised by Kamaruka Education Centre that is performed by an adult in the school environment while children are present or reasonably expected to be present.

Child safety

Child safety encompasses matters related to protecting all children from child abuse, managing the risk of child abuse, providing support to a child at risk of child abuse, and responding to incidents or allegations of child abuse.

School environment

The Kamaruka Education Centre School environment is any physical or virtual place made available or authorised by Kamaruka Education Centre for use by a child during or outside school hours, and includes:

  1. our main campus at 52 River Street South Yarra & Primary Annex at 38 River Street South Yarra.
     
  2. online school environments including email and intranet systems.
     
  3. other locations provided by Kamaruka Education Centre for a child’s use, including locations used for School camps, sporting events, tours, excursions, competitions and other events.
     

 

CHILD SAFETY REPORTING PROCESS – DOWNLOAD

All policy documents are accessible on the Kamaruka website and are available for staff to view in each staff room. Copies are provided for parents with enrolment forms.

This policy was last ratified by the Kamaruka Advisory Committee on.11 September 2017