Child Safe Environment Policy

MS Society SA & NT Child Safe Environment Policy

The employees and volunteers are committed to promoting the rights of the children including the participation of children in matters that affect them.

The Society will create an environment in which children feel safe, comfortable and confident in reporting to the employees any incident or conduct which is, or which may lead to their abuse or neglect.

Policy Parameters

Our commitment to create child safe environment is underpinned by the “Child Safe Environments- Principles of Good Practice” issued by the Chief Executive, Department for Education and Child Development (Section 8A, Children’s Protection Act 1993 (SA)). Nevertheless, the policy complies with the requirements of relevant legislations of Northern Territory and Tasmania.

The following principles form the basis for Child Safe Environment at the Society and together with relevant procedures and guidelines, assist the Society to adhere to the principles:

Principle 1: Risk Management Plan

The Society has developed and implemented a risk management strategy that identifies, assesses and takes steps to minimise the risks of harm to children because of the action or inaction of a person involved with the Society.

The Society has a documented risk register that identifies, assesses and takes steps to minimise and prevent risk of harm to children. · A risk assessment is performed for each key service of the Society.

  • The risk management plan is prepared according to the P41 HR Risk Management Policy.
  • The risk management plan is reviewed annually.
  • With all new services, or major changes in relation to either service provision, organisational restructure, policy changes or work practices related to children, a risk management assessment will be undertaken by the CEO.

Principle 2: A clear and accessible child safe policy

The Society has developed this Policy that gives clear directives to staff and volunteers in order to establish a child safe environment in the Society.

  • GOV-PO-02 Child Safe Environment Policy has a statement of intent that demonstrates the Society’s commitment to safeguard children from harm.
  • The policy is also supported by guidelines and procedures that assist in creating a child safe environment.
  • The policy is available on the Society’s intranet and is readily available to all employees and volunteers.
  • All employees and volunteers sign a written statement indicating that they have read the Child Safe Environment Policy (HR-FO-03.5 Employee Policy and Procedure Acknowledgement).
  • The policy is reviewed every three years and/or is adapted whenever there is a significant change in the organisation or in relevant legislation.

Principle 3: Codes of Conduct

The Society has codes of conduct that specify standards of conduct and care when dealing and interacting with children.

  • The Policy GOV-PO-01 Code of Conduct is a comprehensive list of codes of conduct applicable to all employees and volunteers.
  • The excerpts of the codes of conduct that specifies standards of conduct when dealing and interacting with children are given below.
  • All employees/volunteers of the Society are responsible for promoting the safety and well-being of children by:
    • Adhering to this Policy at all times.
    • Respecting that all children who access this service have a right to feel and be safe.
    • Treating all children with dignity, equality and respect.
    • Being aware and responsive to the particular needs and vulnerabilities of children (such as age, language barriers, developmental capabilities, disability, mental health, trauma or abuse).
    • Ensuring clear age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate explanations are provided to children about the consultation and allowing for questions prior to examination/support.
    • Seeking the consent of the child and/or their parents or guardians (where applicable), particularly where treatment requires physical contact.
    • Being alert to children who may be at risk, and reporting suspected child abuse or neglect to the Child Abuse Report Line (13 14 78).
    • Encouraging children to ‘have a say’ on issues that impact on their care/support.
    • Ensure that children and their families know their rights and how to access the complaints procedures available to them.
    • Ensuring a physically and socially safe environment for children that are free of any identifiable hazards.
  • Employees must not:
    • Discriminate against any child because of age, gender, cultural background, religion, vulnerability or sexuality.
    • Develop any relationships with children outside of the professional relationship.
    • Take part in any unnecessary physical contact with a child.
    • Take a child to an employee’s home under any circumstances.
    • Go to a child’s home without documented Manager approval.
    • Provide any personal contact details to a child.
    • Allow volunteers to deal with children in the absence of employees
    • Behave or communicate in a way that could be interpreted as being sexually suggestive even as a joke, nor allow a child to communicate or behave in such a way. The child must be immediately told that their behaviour or comment is unacceptable and inappropriate.

A breach of this Code of Conduct by anyone will result in disciplinary action being taken and possible dismissal.

Principle 4: Choosing suitable employees and volunteers

The Society follows a range of screening measures to ensure that it engages the most suitable and appropriate people to work with children.

The Society screens and assess employees and volunteers working with the children in prescribed functions by:

  • Using a Comprehensive job application form (F67 HR Job Application Form) addressing child safety
  • Undertaking face-to-face interviews: Interviews include behaviour- based questions and open questions covering child safety aspects. Wherever possible, the interview panel shall consist of someone who has undergone training/ is familiar with issues of child protection.
  • Requesting at least two referee reports (PC-FO-16 Applicant Referee Check) from professional references.
  • Conducting relevant child related employment screening through respective authorities of South Australia and Northern Territory.

Principle 5: Support, training and supervision for employees and volunteers

The Society ensures that volunteers and employees who work with children or their records have ongoing supervision, support and training, such that their performance is developed and enhanced to promote the establishment and maintenance of a child safe environment.

  • The Society fosters a supportive environment which encourages everyone to work towards continuous improvement and accountability. Monthly planning discussions to review previous work related to services to children and plan for the future.
  • All employee and volunteer induction programs should include proper training about the Society’s Child Safe Environment Policy, codes of conduct, risk management strategy and mandatory reporting.
  • Employees and volunteers working with children and/or their records have to complete the Strategies for Managing Abuse Related Trauma (SMART) program, available at www.childhood.org.au.
  • Employees and volunteers shall complete any relevant training program as directed by the CEO from time to time.
  • The Society shall invite experts and professionals to speak about topics related to child safety.

Principle 6: Child rights based service delivery framework

The Society promotes the involvement and participation of children in developing and maintaining child safe environments.

The Society is committed to promoting and protecting the rights, interests and wellbeing of children, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  • Each child is involved in the decision-making process related to their care and support. A written consent is received from the child/parent wherever applicable.
  • The children are given:
    • Adequate information and explanation in a way the child can understand; in case of an immature child, the parent is given the necessary information about the decision.
    • Opportunity to respond to the proposed decision.
    • Opportunity to express the child’s wishes and views freely.
    • Assistance in expressing those wishes and views.

The children/parents are provided with information brochures during registration for the services of the Society (H06 Feedback, Compliments and Complaints, ES-HO-04 Participants’ Handbook (Multiple Solutions).

    • The Child Safe Environment Policy statement is quoted in the information brochures handed to the clients during registration.
    • Children/parents are encouraged to raise any concerns and the Society has proper reporting mechanisms that allow children/parents to report any complaints.
    • Children/parents are made aware how they can access help and advice, both within the Society and beyond.
  • The Society seeks feedback from children/parents on the services provided and its child safety policies and procedures. A Client Feedback Register (CS-REG-02) is maintained at the Society for this purpose.
  • The Society will seek the consent (COMM-FO-02 Photographic Video Consent and Release Form and COMM-FO-03 Media Consent and Release Form) of the parent/guardian before using any images or footage of children for publicity purposes
  • Storing and access of images obtained by the society is limited only to CEO and the Marketing Officer. Other staffs need to seek the approval of CEO to store, access and publish images of children for publicity purposes of the Society.
  • Maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of children and young people who participate in our services is paramount in ensuring their safety and wellbeing.
  • All records are stored in accordance with P06 HR Confidentiality Policy and OPS-PO-01 Privacy Policy.

Principle 7: Reporting and responding appropriately to suspected abuse and neglect

The Society ensures that all employees and volunteers working with children are able to identify and respond to children at risk of harm.

All employees and volunteers working in prescribed positions within the Society are trained and made aware about their legal obligation to report any suspected child abuse or neglect.

  • All employees and volunteers must report suspected child abuse or neglect to the following relevant authorities based on their location.
  • The Children’s Protection Act 1993 (SA), imposes liability on mandated notifiers who fail to report suspected child abuse.
  • In case of a suspected child abuse, the employees/volunteers (in addition to reporting to the child abuse report line) should discuss the case with their immediate supervisor and seek advice on reducing the impact of the abuse on the child, doing everything possible to ensure it does not occur again and providing ongoing support and services to the child as appropriate.
  • Any employee/volunteer must raise concerns if they suspect a child has been abused by another employee/volunteer. This duty exists even if they are not mandated notifiers under the Children’s Protection Act 1993 (SA).
  • All such concerns shall be escalated to the CEO within the same day. The employee/volunteer must fill in the F66 Child Safety Incident Report, while reporting a suspected child abuse
  • In some cases, the employee/volunteer while reporting a suspected abuse or neglect to the child abuse report line, may elect not to inform the immediate supervisor or the child who is the subject of the report. This is applicable only if the report is against the immediate supervisor. However, the employee/volunteer should report to the CEO about the suspected abuse or neglect.
  • The Society shall support the person making the report (the notifier) in relation to any secondary trauma the person may have suffered by providing necessary counselling and support through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
  • The Society shall ensure the safety of the notifiers after they have reported a concern to the Child Abuse Report Line.

Definitions

  • Child means a person under 18 years of age.
  • Prescribed position is a position that requires or involves the following prescribed functions:
    • regular contact with children that is not directly supervised at all times
    • work in close proximity to children on a regular basis that is not directly supervised at all times
    • supervision or management of persons who have regular contact with children or work in close proximity to children on a regular basis
    • access to records of a kind prescribed by regulation relating to children.
  • Abuse or neglect, in relation to a child, means:
    • sexual abuse of the child, or
    • physical or emotional abuse of the child, or neglect of the child, to the extent that either:
      • the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, physical or psychological injury detrimental to the child's well being
      • the child's physical or psychological development is in jeopardy.