Child Protection Policy and Procedures and Code of Conduct

Status


Last reviewed
Tue, 21 December 2021

The purpose of this Policy is to guide The College in developing a child protective culture and in establishing and maintaining child-safe environments for the children and vulnerable people who are part of The College education and faith community.

Public
visibility
Approved on: 21 Dec 2021
Amended on: 21 Dec 2021
Review cycle: AN
Owned by

Senior Leadership Group

Approved by

Senior Leadership Group

Category: 
Policy Contact: 
General Manager
Purpose: 

The purpose of this Policy is to guide The College in developing a child protective culture and in establishing and maintaining child-safe environments for the children and vulnerable people who are part of The College education and faith community.

Definitions: 

Child: A person who is less than 18 years of age.

The College: Eastern College Australia

Staff: This is the general term used for all people employed by MST, whether full-time, part-time or casual. Volunteers and contracted workers are not covered under this policy.

Faculty: Those staff who have been designated and remunerated as teaching members of staff, and for which specific policies apply because of their role in teaching.

Executive Management Team: This group comprises the Executive Principal, Vice Principal (Academic), Vice Principal (Community & Operations), Vice Principal (Head of Eastern College Australia)

CSO: Child Safety Officer

ARC: Audit & Risk Committee

Statement: 

Section 1 - Introduction

1.1. Policy Statement: A Commitment to Child Protection

The purpose of this Policy is to guide The College in developing a child protective culture and in establishing and maintaining child-safe environments for the children and vulnerable people who are part of the The College community of faith.

The College is committed to welcoming children and their parents or carers and providing a ‘child-safe’1 environment, culture and programs for children and other vulnerable people who attend the services and other programs. We see such a commitment as flowing naturally from our vision and mission to operate according to biblical, Christian principles for living and for recognising the unique value and potential of every person, regardless of race, age, gender, ability or disability.

All children who come to The College have a right to feel and be safe. The welfare of children in our care will be our first priority. When children attend the College premises and remain with their parents, then the parents have the primary duty of care. When children are signed over to authorised workers in a College program, then that duty of care transfers to The College. The authorised leaders accept the responsibility of providing a safe and friendly environment where children are listened to, feel safe, have fun, accept challenges, learn and grow. We recognise the particular need for sensitivity for those from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds. We take into consideration the needs of children with disabilities and seek to include them and make them feel safe and welcome.

This Policy recognises both Federal and State legislation (See Appendix 1) and the spirit that seeks to protect and nurture the holistic development of children and young people. It reflects the operational principles of our Code of Conduct. (See separate document)

1.2. Scope

The provisions and duties of care expressed in this Child Protection Policy applies to:

  • The Board of Directors,
  • All faculty and staff, and volunteers, both full time and part time,
  • All guests or hirers of the venue and its facilities,
  • Ministers. A minister of religion according to the Act is:
A person defined or appointed as a recognised leader in an organised religious institution; or the appointed leader of a local religious congregation in an organised religious institution who has general authority.
  • Any contractors, subcontractors, delivery persons or others engaged to provide services on the premises, whether or not they have direct contact with children whilst on site.
  • All activities and programs organised by or with the approval of The College, on the premises or off-site.

1.3. Authority

This Child Protection Policy was revised and updated to reflect the most recent changes to State and Federal law and guidelines towards being a Child-safe organisation. It was approved by the The College Executive and adopted for use by The College on 6 July 2018.

1.4. Policy Review

The Child Protection Policy and Procedures will be reviewed at least annually, or to remain compliant with new legislation. Any proposed changes will be submitted to the Board of The College for approval at a properly convened meeting for approval before being adopted and implemented.

1.5. Operating Principles

Duty of Care: Means any legal responsibility that The College has to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those who participate in programs or activities of the College.

Vicarious Liability: Means any legal liability that The College may be determined to have for the conduct of those who act on its behalf (e.g. its staff and approved voluntary leaders).

Reasonable Standard of Care: Refers to the level of care that a user may reasonably expect that The College will take in providing any program, activity, service, or facility.

Reasonable Foresight: Refers to a responsibility that The College has, when planning activities for children and young people, to identify any reasonably foreseen danger/risk and take reasonable steps to prevent or avert such risk.

Child Protection Reporting Obligations: This principle covers mandatory reporting, for those professions and roles that are defined by law, and the moral and legal responsibility that all adults have to report all types of known or possible child abuse, where there is a reasonable belief that a physical or sexual offence has occurred or may be committed against a child

Reasonable belief: A person may form a belief on reasonable grounds, through disclosure by the child or a third party or personal observation of indicators that a child is in need of protection after becoming aware that a child or young person’s health, safety or wellbeing is at risk.

Section 2 - Children’s Rights

2.1. Children’s Rights to Safety and Participation

The staff and leadership of The College encourage children to feel a part of the College by seeking their feedback regarding children’s programs, and through listening to them when they speak about matters that directly affect their sense of safety or wellbeing. We value diversity and do not tolerate discrimination in our words or practices or in those of others.

Part of our work with children is to teach and inform them of what they can do if they feel unsafe, threatened or upset by the behaviour of adults or other children. We will listen to and act on any concerns children or their parents/carers raise with us. We are committed to protecting children from harm. ‘Harm’, as used in this policy, includes any and all of the following types of abuse or neglect of children and young people: physical; sexual; emotional/psychological; racial/cultural or spiritual/religious. (See Appendix 2)

All forms of abuse injure children, sometimes visibly, but often in profound ways that damage a child’s sense of identity, cause them to be anxious or fearful and reduce their capacity to participate in the community and opportunities of life.’

 
2.2. Feedback from Children

 

Children and young adults will have opportunity to reflect on their experience of College appropriate programs and to make comments regarding the standard of planning for and delivery of programs for their age-group. We will invite comments on other aspects of wellbeing, including staff conduct. Such feedback will inform The College and guide adjustments to practices, programs and training.

Section 3 - Staff Requirements

3.1. Employment of Staff and Volunteer leaders / teachers working with Children

The College will be vigilant in the recruitment, selection and screening of all staff, leaders and volunteers to ensure they are safe and suitable to work with children and young people. It is important that every person who works with children under the auspices of this organisation upholds and exemplifies our Christian beliefs and values, especially in their interaction with children and other vulnerable people.

  • Our statements of commitment to child safety and our behavioural expectations of employees and volunteers are included in all advertisements and Position Role Descriptions.
  • We will conduct thorough screening to determine whether a prospective staff member, contractor, volunteer or leader may pose a risk to children. This will include the Senior Leadership of the College making reasonable efforts to gather, verify and record the following information about a person whom it proposes to engage to perform child-connected work:

    • Child-related Employment Screening Clearance;
    • proof of personal identity and any professional or other qualifications;
    • the person's history of work involving children; and
    • references that address the person's suitability for the job and working with children.

 

  • The type of evidence that an applicant is required to provide to the College will vary depending on the type of position that they are applying for. However, the College will not offer any applicant a position of responsibility until they provide the required evidence to the [insert applicable person]. We conduct reference checks prior to engagement, using an agreed set of questions. Conversations will be documented and kept as part of the employment file of successful applicants.
  • Short-listed applicants will be interviewed by a member(s) of the The College Executive prior to appointment being made official. The Executive Principal will make appointments to a specific role in writing.
  • We require and keep accurate, up-to-date records of National Criminal History Checks and Working With Children Checks status for all those working on the site with access to children. The Amendments to the Working With Children Act 2005 have been noted and will be complied with.
  • We have a clear staff and volunteer induction process that includes providing them with a copy of this Policy, the Code of Conduct and other relevant documents detailing standard operating procedures.
  • All staff and volunteers are trained annually to refresh their knowledge of our policies and expectations in terms of conduct and protocol, especially where there has been document review.

3.2. Support and Training

We provide a system of support and supervision so people feel valued, respected and fairly treated. To this end we have developed a Code of Conduct to guide our staff and volunteers.

  • Staff and volunteers are provided with a copy of this Child Protection Policy and the Code of Conduct that defines unacceptable conduct, boundaries and expectations for behaviour. Staff will sign a pledge stating they have read, understand and will comply with guidelines.
  • Annual ‘Refresh, Renew, Update’ sessions are run for all program staff, to ensure staff awareness of the importance of child safety and familiarity with child protective practices and expectations.
  • Employees and the leadership team will attend workshop/training sessions organised by the Baptist Union of Victoria (BUV), the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, or other Registered Training Organisations.

3.3. Non-suitable applicants

Where The College has identified that an applicant for an employee or leader position has previously committed a violent or sexually related offence, they cannot, under any circumstances, be considered for child related activities or programs.

3.4. Risk Management

Risk assessment and management practices are embedded in our procedures for all services, programs or activities authorised by The College. We use these practices to inform our planning and implementing of all aspects of operation at The College. Risk management applies to Work Health and Safety and specifically to the minimising of risks of abuse of any kind to children who are in our care.

In situations where a person seeks to attend or join The College with a record of offending in child abuse of any kind, the leadership will put in place appropriate boundaries restricting access to ensure the safety of children, in full awareness of the insurance exclusions that operate in such cases. This is not to say that such a person with a reformed attitude cannot be received into fellowship and benefit from the pastoral care provided by the College.

Risk management applies to Work Health and Safety generally and is covered in more detail in Risk Management Policy and Workplace Health & Safety Policy. This policy applies specifically to the minimising of risks of abuse of any kind to children who are in our care and to ensuring their physical safety in the buildings or activities of the College. The College has zero tolerance of child abuse of any kind.

In situations where a person seeks to attend or join the College with a record of offending in child abuse of any kind, the leadership will put in place appropriate boundaries restricting access, to ensure the safety of children. This is not to say that such a person, with a proven reformed attitude, cannot be received into fellowship and benefit from the pastoral care of the College.

The College has an Audit & Risk Committee (ARC), which is a sub-committee of the College Board, committed to identifying and managing risks within the College and its environment.

If the Audit & Risk Committee identifies risks of child abuse occurring in the College or its environment the committee will make a record of those risks and specify the action(s) the College will take to reduce or remove the risks (i.e. risk controls).

As part of its risk management strategy and practices, the Committee will monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of its risk controls.

A Child Protection Officer is appointed by the leadership for responding to complaints made by staff, contractors, volunteers, children or other attendees and members of the congregation.2

The Child Protection Officer (CPO) will be identified and their role explained at appropriate times in the College year. Guests, staff and volunteers are expected to use either the Complaints Form or the Incident Form to note concerns arising from observations or experience. (See Appendices 2 and 4) Copies of these forms will be kept in the College Office by the CPO.

3.5. Record Keeping

All reports of alleged abuse or harm, or risk thereof, must be recorded in the form of a Complaint or Incident Report. This will record places, times, dates, names of people, observable behaviours or evidence of harm. Reports must be to be securely stored by the CPO. They provide valuable legal documents for any investigations and demonstrate the Colleges due diligence.

3.6. Privacy and Confidentiality

The College will collect, use, disclose and hold personal information of all people who fulfil a role within the College, in accordance with relevant privacy legislation. Such data will be securely stored and protected.

As much as is reasonably possible, an individual’s confidentiality is to be protected. Both those who are making reports and those about whom accusations are being made are entitled to confidentiality. Where there is suspected abuse or misconduct, staff members, leaders, volunteers and contractors must not disclose or make use of the information in a manner that breaches confidentiality, other than to report and act in a way consistent with the Child Protection Policy, Code of Conduct and Procedure, and relevant statutory requirements.


 

Section 4 - CODE OF CONDUCT

4.1. Purpose:

The College is a group of followers of Jesus Christ, based on the campus at Wantirna, Victoria and other approved campuses in Australia and overseas. We seek to reflect the teachings of Christ and of the New Testament with integrity and humility. We accept that our faith is worked out and expressed in the quality of relationships we develop as a College community and all those with whom we interact in our daily lives. Jesus summarised God’s expectation for the conduct of His people into one famous and succinct sentence: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your neighbours as yourself.’ He reinforced this ‘law of love’ by adding, ‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples; you love one another!’ Jesus also taught and demonstrated the importance of truth and honesty, of justice and mercy as essential to healthy relationships.

This Code of Conduct seeks to apply to the ministerial, or pastoral relationship those ethical standards that God expects of all people. People in various forms of recognised ministry are therefore expected to be examples and models of Christian faith and practice. It is the duty of any person in a ministry position not to use the influence or authority of their position for personal gain, whether that gain is financial or in terms of power, sexual gratification, or otherwise. This includes any action, verbal, written or electronic, physical or emotional that could be interpreted as emotional, sexual or spiritual abuse, and applies especially when working with children. We recognize the power differential between children and adults in ministry roles, and these guidelines seek to ensure that such a power is not used to harm children or any vulnerable person.

The adoption of this Code of Conduct and the related Procedural Documents for investigating breaches of the Code, reflects a deep desire for an open, accountable process that seeks to express justice, acceptance and compassion to all parties, rather than to protect the organization.

4.2. Our Commitment

Our commitment to expressing the love of Christ leads us to the view that all people should be able to live, work and learn in an environment that is free from abuse of any kind. Our commitment is to cultivate an environment and culture where a diversity of people, regardless of age, gender, race and culture can thrive and grow holistically. That is, we are committed to the College being a safe place for all people, with a special focus on the safety and wellbeing of children.

This Code of Conduct aims to detail the standards of conduct expected by staff (paid and voluntary) in the performance of their duties in working with children and to provide guidance in areas where there is a need to make personal and ethical decisions.

The Code of Conduct recognises and is aligned with all statutory and compliance requirements enshrined in State and Federal law. The College is committed to operating in accordance with the law in all its operations.

4.3. Specific Expectations to Protect Children from Abuse

All those who minister or work under the auspices of the College with children should be fully aware of the Child Protection Policy and Code of Conduct. Abusive behaviour towards children will not be tolerated. Any and all allegations will be investigated and reported if found to be substantially true.

 

All faculty, staff and volunteers have a responsibility to ensure all children are protected from harm while they are engaged with college activities.

 

DO:

  • contact the police if a child is at immediate risk of abuse (telephone ‘000’);
  • adhere to the Child Protection Policy and Procedure and uphold the College’s commitment to child safety at all times;
  • take all reasonable steps to protect children from abuse, recognising you duty of care;
  • conduct themselves in a manner consistent with their position as an employee, volunteer, leader or contractor of the College and as a positive role model to children and young people;
  • work towards the achievement of the aims and purposes of the College;
  • be responsible for relevant administration of programs and activities in their area;
  • establish and maintain a child-safe environment in the course of their work;
  • be fair, considerate and honest with others;
  • treat children and young people with respect. Value their ideas, opinions and consider their age, background and abilities;
  • promote the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children (for example, by never questioning an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island child’s self-identification);
  • promote the safety, participation and empowerment of children with culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds (for example, by having a zero tolerance of discrimination);
  • promote the safety, participation and empowerment of children with a disability;
  • listen and respond to the views and concerns of children, particularly if they are telling you that they are or another child has been abused or that they are worried about their safety/the safety of another child;
  • ensure (as far as practicable) that adults are not alone with a child, or, at least, observable by another adult.
  • raise concerns about suspected abuse with the Child Protection Officer or a leader as soon as possible;
  • comply with all reporting obligations as they relate to reporting under legislation;
  • record and act upon all allegations or suspicions of abuse, discrimination or harassment;
  • if an allegation of child abuse is made, ensure that, as quickly as possible, the immediate and ongoing safety of the child or children;
  • be professional, consistent and responsible in all your actions;
  • maintain strict impartiality;
  • respect confidentiality when sharing information about children in accordance with the Child Protection Policy and Procedures and your reporting obligations;

 

DO NOT:

All people involved in the care of children on behalf of the College must not:

  • ignore or disregard any suspected or disclosed child abuse;
  • put a child at risk of abuse (for example, by locking doors for an improper reason);
  • speak to a child in a way that is or could be construed by any observer as harsh, threatening, intimidating, shaming, derogatory, demeaning, or humiliating. Some examples are:

    • swearing or using inappropriate language in the presence of a child;
    • yelling at a child, except in an emergency situation where the child’s safety may be in danger;
    • dealing with a child in anger; and
    • using hurtful sarcasm.
  • discuss sexual activities with a child, unless it is a specific job requirement and the person is trained or qualified to discuss these matters;
  • have private contact with a child outside of College activities without the knowledge and/or consent of the College’s leadership;
  • have any online contact with a child (including by social media, email, instant messaging etc.) or their family (unless necessary and approved by the College and the child’s parents/guardians);
  • use any personal communication channels/devices such as a personal email account or social media to communicate with a child without parental knowledge;
  • exchange personal contact details such as phone number, social networking sites or email addresses with a child (unless necessary and approved by the College and the child’s parents/guardians as the agreed form of communication);
  • use, possess, or be under the influence of alcohol while in the presence of or while supervising a child (unless your contact with the child is accidental/incidental and you are not performing your duties as directed by the College);
  • use, possess, or be under the influence of illegal drugs while in the presence of or while supervising a child;
  • provide or allow a child to consume alcohol;
  • provide or allow a child to consume illegal drugs;
  • initiate unnecessary physical contact with a child or young person, or do things of a personal nature for them that they can do for themselves;
  • engage in rough physical games, hold, massage, kiss, cuddle or touch a child in an inappropriate and or/culturally insensitive way;
  • engage in any sexual contact with a child for any purpose;
  • take a child to your home or encourage meetings outside program activities (unless necessary and approved by the College and the child’s parents/guardians);
  • be naked in the presence of a child;
  • possess sexually explicit printed materials (magazines, cards, videos, films, clothing, etc.) in the presence of children;
  • sleep in the same bed, sleeping bag, room or tent with a single child;
  • discriminate against any child, on the basis of age, gender, race, culture, sexuality, or disability;
  • engage in any activity with a child that is likely to emotionally harm them (e.g.watch a movie that is age or content inappropriate for a child);
  • be alone with a child unnecessarily and for more than a very short time, unless you are observable by another adult or it is unavoidable;
  • develop a ‘special’ relationship with a specific child for their own needs;
  • show favouritism through the provision of gifts or inappropriate attention;
  • photograph or video a child without the consent of the child and his/her parents or guardians;
  • do anything in contravention of the College’s policies, procedures or this Code.

 

DECLARATION

I, _________________________, have read the Code of Conduct and the Child Protection Policy and Procedures that express the intent of the College to protect and nurture children and other vulnerable people.

I agree to comply with these rules and expectations. I understand that if I breach the Code of Conduct or commit an act of serious misconduct or break the law, this may lead to my:

  • suspension from duties during investigation of allegations against me;
  • termination of employment without notice or payment in lieu (summary or instant dismissal);
  • being reported to the police and charged with a criminal offence.

 

Signed: _____________________________________ Date: ____ / ____ / 20___

 

Signed: _____________________________________ Date: ____ / ____ / 20___ Senior Leadership Team

 

Section 5 - CHILD PROTECTION PROCEDURES & FORMS

5.1. Complaints and Allegations

Any person who believes a child is in immediate risk of abuse should telephone 000.

Certain professions are referred to as ‘mandatory reporters’. This includes medical practitioners, nurses (including school nurses), members of the police force, counsellors and primary and secondary teachers and principals. Penalties may be incurred by those named as ‘mandatory reporters’ if they fail to notify the Child Protection agency if they have reasonable grounds for a belief (not proof!) that a child or young person is in need of protection, because they have suffered, or are likely to suffer significant harm, particularly physical or sexual abuse.

In addition to the mandatory reporting obligations above, any person who believes on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection from child abuse, should disclose that information to the Police or the Child Protection. In Victoria ‘Failure to Report’ is a crime!

5.2. When is a child in need of protection?

A child is in need of protection if any of the following grounds exist—

  1. the child has been abandoned by his or her parents;
  2. the child's parents are dead or incapacitated and there is no other suitable person willing and able to care for the child;
  3. the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of physical injury and the child's parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type;
  4. the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of sexual abuse and the child's parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type;
  5. the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, emotional or psychological harm of such a kind that the child's emotional or intellectual development is, or is likely to be, significantly damaged and the child's parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type;
  6. the child's physical development or health has been, or is likely to be, significantly harmed and the child's parents have not provided, arranged or allowed the provision of, or are unlikely to provide, arrange or allow the provision of, basic care or effective medical, surgical or other remedial care.

 

5.3. Making and Managing an Allegation of Abuse

  1. Where possible, any person (including a child or parent) making an allegation of child abuse should be encouraged to fill out a Complaints Form (Appendix 2) and give this to the CPO. If they are not willing or able to fill out the Form, the CPO (or other leader) may take notes and fill out the form at a later time. The CPO will share the allegation with the senior leader of the College. A copy of this Form must be kept by the CPO. The complainant may keep the original. This is an essential record of the event.

If a child is concerned about their own safety or the safety of another person, the child may speak to the Child Protection Officer (CPO). The CPO will meet with the complainant, and hear the story, taking notes and seeking clarification, ensuring that the complainant feels listened to, understood and protected. (Some complaints may be able to be dealt with at this time, where there is misunderstanding, a lack of evidence of any abuse or no reportable act has been committed.)

  1. Any responsible adult should, if they have come to a reasonable belief that abuse of a child has happened, is or is likely to happen, follow the steps outlined in Reporting Procedure 1 (Appendix 1A) below. This includes senior leadership, or any concerned member of the College.
  2. If the allegation is made against an employee, volunteer or worker in a College program or activity, then the Executive Principal must ALSO follow the steps outline in Reporting Procedure 2: (Appendix 1B)
1 It is recognized that no organization can guarantee the safety of children and other vulnerable people who are on site at a venue. The term ‘child-safe’ means that child safety is paramount to this organization, that it has compliant policies and procedural documents and that risk identification and mitigation practices are embedded in the culture.
2This person is mature, experienced and readily accessible during those times children are on site, but does not directly work with children. The Child Safety Officer is appointed by the College leadership is accountable to the Executive Principal (the CPO should not be the Executive Principal!). The CPO has access to the Complaints and Incident Forms and is familiar with the legal requirements applying to the reporting of abuse against children.