Camberwell South Anglican Church

Child-Safe Policy

Implemented March 2017

Due for Review March 2018 

If you believe a child is at immediate risk of abuse phone 000

 

Purpose of this Child-safe Policy

It is the intention of this child safe policy to provide an overview of the key elements in Camberwell South Anglican Church’s approach to child safety. The policy has been written and agreed to by the Pastoral Leadership Team, churchwardens and parish council of Camberwell South Anglican Church (CSAC). It applies to all clergy, employees, volunteers, children and families who participate in the life of CSAC in any capacity and therefore it is imperative that everyone involved read and be familiar with our child-safety policy.

 

The distribution of this policy is not restricted. In order to raise awareness about the importance of child safety at CSAC and to demonstrate our commitment to child safety, copies of this policy have been posted around the church, on our website and are available upon request.

 

  1. Our Commitment to Child Safety

CSAC is committed to Biblical, Christian principles and therefore we are also committed to child safety. As a church we have a mandate to be proactive in the welcome, safety, care and protection of the young people in our midst. In practice this means:

  • 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.[1]
  • We have legal obligations to contact authorities when we are worried about a child’s safety.
  • Our church is committed to preventing child abuse and identifying risks early, and removing and reducing these risks.
  • We are committed to empowering our children so that they feel safe and comfortable in reporting concerns and allegations of abuse.
  • Our church has robust recruitment practices for all staff and volunteers.
  • Our church is committed to regularly training and supervising our volunteers with regards to child safety.

See Duty of Care Handbook, pp.5-6, 37-40.

 

  1. Our Children

At CSAC we empower children who are vital and active members of our community. We listen to their views and act upon any concerns they raise with us. We teach and inform them of what to do if they feel unsafe, upset or threatened by the behaviour of adults or other children.

 

We promote diversity and tolerance in our church, and people from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds are welcome. In particular we recognize the need to be sensitive to children of Aboriginal culture and those from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds. We also ensure that children with a disability feel safe and welcome, and can easily participate equally.

See Child Wellbeing and Safety Amendment (Child Safety Standards) Act 2015.

 

  1. Our Staff and Volunteers

CSAC takes all reasonable steps to employ the best and most appropriate staff and volunteers to work with children. We apply best practice standards in the recruitment, screening and training of staff and volunteers.

  • CSAC has a code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children. All of our staff and volunteers must agree to abide by our code of conduct. They must also be familiar with the Duty of Care Handbook.
  • All people engaged in child-related work 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 on all volunteers and staff. 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, and the Office of Professional Standards will also be consulted.
  • We have a clear induction process that includes providing them with a copy of this child-safe policy, the code of conduct, the Duty of Care Handbook, and other relevant documents detailing procedures and legislation.

 

At CSAC we take steps to ensure that everyone at CSAC understands that child safety is everyone’s responsibility. Through the recruiting and induction process we clearly communicate our commitment to child safety and an awareness of our spiritual and legislative responsibilities. Through regular training and supervision we reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personal:

  • We train our volunteers to identify, assess, and minimise risks of child abuse and to detect potential signs of child abuse.
  • New volunteers will be supervised regularly to ensure they understand our organisation’s commitment to child safety as well as checking that their behaviour towards children is safe and appropriate.
  • All staff and volunteers are required to review and reaffirm their commitment to the child-safe policy and code of conduct each year, or whenever they are amended or updated.

                  See Duty of Care Handbook, pp.7-30, Appendix A;

                  CSAC Code of Conduct for Staff and Volunteers.

 

  1. Legislative responsibilities

CSAC takes its 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.[2]
  • Failure to protect: People of authority at CSAC 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.

See Child Wellbeing and Safety Amendment (Child Safety Standards) Act 2015;

Betrayal of Trust Criminal Law Reforms 2014.

 

  1. Risk management and child safety reviews

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 minimize child risks, which include safety in numbers, visibility, and no contact with children with staff or volunteers on social media. This policy will be reviewed every two years (next review due October 2018) or following any significant incidents if they occur.

See Duty of Care Handbook, pp.31-35; Appendix C; D; E; F.

 

  1. Reporting and responding to a child-safety concern, allegation or complaint

CSAC’s culture aims for all staff, volunteers, parents, carers and children to feel confident and comfortable in discussing any allegations of child abuse or child safety concerns. We all have a responsibility and must report an allegation of abuse if we have a reasonable belief that an incident took place. 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

Where one does have reasonable belief an incident has taken place, they should immediately report this to the minister, ministry coordinator or child-safety officer. However, if the accused person is the minister, ministry coordinator, or child-safe officer, they must call the Director of Professional Standards help line on 1800 135 246 instead. They must never go to the person who is accused as this could put the child at risk of further harm. Where an allegation is made a Complaints Form must be completed as an essential record of the event.

 

CSAC takes allegations seriously and has practices in place to investigate thoroughly and quickly. Our staff 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. If an allegation of abuse or a safety concern is raised, we provide updates to children and families on progress and any actions we take as an organisation.

 

The safety and wellbeing of children is our primary concern. We are also fair and just to staff and volunteers facing an accusation. The decisions we make when recruiting, assessing incidents, and undertaking disciplinary action will always be thorough, transparent, and based on evidence. All records of allegations of abuse and safety concerns are securely stored. 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.

See Duty of Care Handbook, pp.40-42;

Information for People Thinking About Making a Complaint Handbook;

Information for People Responding to a Complaint Handbook;

Betrayal of Trust Criminal Law Reforms 2014.

 

Supporting Resources

CSAC Code of Conduct for Staff and Volunteers. Available on our website, on the notice board, or upon request.

Duty of Care Handbook. Available on our website, on the information table, or upon request.

Information for People Thinking About Making a Complaint Handbook. Available on the information table, or upon request.

Information for People Responding to a Complaint Handbook. Available on the information table, or upon request.

Child Wellbeing and Safety Amendment (Child Safety Standards) Act 2015. An Overview of the Victorian child

safe standards is available from the Department of Human Services Website: <www.dhs.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/word_doc/0005/955598/Child-safe-standards_overview.doc>

Betrayal of Trust Law Reforms 2014. Details on implementing the Betrayal of Trust Law Reforms is available from

the Department of Justice website: <http://www.justice.vic.gov.au/home/safer+communities/

protecting+children+and+families/betrayal+of+trust+implementation>

 

Useful Contacts

Camberwell Police Station:                         98820688                   317 Camberwell Road, Camberwell VIC 3124

Anglican Diocese of Melbourne:                    9653 4220                                     209 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000

Director of Professional Standards:               1800 135 246                                P O Box 329, Canterbury VIC 3126

Department of Human Services:                   www.dhs.vic.gov.au

Child Protection Crisis Line (24/7):              131 278

Working with Children Website:                   www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au

[1] For a definition of child abuse, see Duty of Care Handbook, pp.37-40.

[2] A person will not commit this offence if they have a reasonable excuse for not disclosing the information, including a fear for their safety
or where the information has already been disclosed.