Section 1 - Introduction
1.1. Policy Statement: A Commitment to Child Protection
The purpose of this Policy is to guide Eastern College Australia 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’s Wantirna Campus community of faith.
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 regardless of gender, race, religious belief, age, disability, sexual orientation or social background who come to The College have equal rights to feel safe, and free from abuse and discrimination. The welfare of students under the age of 18 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. (refer to the Children on Campus Policy). The term ‘duty of care' in the context of this policy relates to a student who is under 18 years of age.
We recognise the particular need for sensitivity for those from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds. We take into consideration the needs of students with disabilities and seek to include them and make them feel safe and welcome.
This Policy recognises both Federal and State legislation (See Related documents) 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 Section 4)
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.
1.3. Policy Review
The Child Protection Policy and Procedures will be reviewed at least every two years, or to remain compliant with new legislation. Any proposed changes will be provided to the Board of the College for their information.
1.4. 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).
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 - The New Victorian Child Safe Rights
The College has adopted the new Victorian Child Safety Standards as below:
Standard 1. Culturally Safe Environments.
A culturally safe place for Aboriginal children. The practices and sensitivities that relate to Standard 5 apply here, even if there are no persons identifying as Aboriginal in the College. However, the spirit of this Standard is to take a stand against racism. ECA does not tolerate or promote racism, abuse or discrimination.
Standard 2. Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in leadership, governance and culture.
Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in the College culture at every level, from the Board, via the Executive Principal. The Child-safe Code of Conduct is read and signed by all staff (including volunteers) upon commencement and when refreshment is required such as policy update or when required. Our statement of commitment to child safety and our policies are on the College website. Our risk management strategies and procedures are comprehensive and well-known.
Standard 3. Child and Student Empowerment.
Children and young people will be informed and empowered about their human rights: to be heard, consulted and included in decision-making processes that affect them and the strategies and procedures in place to keep them safe or enable report of any concerns or issues.
Standard 4. Family Engagement
The College community will be informed and involved in developing and implementing the practices and procedures that will protect children attending the College and their wellbeing.
Standard 5. Diversity and Equity
Equity is upheld and diverse needs are respected in policy and practice. The College recognises some children are vulnerable because of their cultural and linguistic diversity, physical, intellectual or learning disability, sexual identity or gender dysphoria, and will ensure they are not discriminated against or disadvantaged by the structures, policies and practices of the College.
Standard 6. Suitable staff and volunteers
People employed or approved to work with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice. This will be evidenced by Working With Children clearance/current registration with the V.I.T., and will be the focus of recruitment, screening and interviewing processes and by our regular training and induction for new children’s workers.
Standard 7. Complaints Management Processes
Processes for making, managing and responding to complaints, including investigating complaints and child abuse concerns are visible, accessible and child focussed. The College has a Complaints Management process that is outlined in several Policy documents and is illustrated with simple graphic flow charts. Complaint Report Forms are available from the Child Protection Officer and are appended at the end of this policy document.
Standard 8. Child Safety knowledge, skills and awareness
Regular staff training will equip all staff members with the knowledge, skills and awareness required to keep children safe. Members of the children and youth teams will complete training and provide certification of completion. All members will read and sign off on key policies, manuals and the Child-safe Code of Conduct upon commencement and as part of their annual performance review.
Standard 9. Child safety in physical and on-line environments
Physical and on-line environments promote safety and wellbeing, minimising the opportunity for children or young people to be harmed. Strategies for risk management and mitigation of physical and on-line risk are contained in relevant policies and overseen by the OH&S Committee.
Standard 10. Review of Child Safety practices
The College is committed to regular review and improvement of all policies, procedures and practices relating to child safety and its implementation with the College community.
Standard 11. Implementing Child Safe practices
This policy and the related documents show how the College works to exercise its duty of care to all students, and to provide evidence that these child-safe practices and procedures are well-known and complied with.
Details on how these Standards are incorporated into the Policy and Procedures are outlined below.
Section 3 - Child Protection Policy
Child Safety and Wellbeing are embedded in college governance, leadership and culture
The College will:
Ensure the College website has a clear statement that child abuse of any kind or harmful discrimination on the basis of identified attributes will not be tolerated. This statement is also a part of recruitment documentation and other College publications.
Through the Board, assign the responsibility for child safety education and practices to the Executive Principal. This responsibility will be practically shared by members of the Board and the Child Protection Officer. They will ensure that all staff and volunteers complete mandatory reading and training in Child Protection, Reporting, Risk Management and Duty of Care, as well as other policies which support these principles.
Ensure all members of staff, including casually employed staff and volunteers, read and sign the Child-safe Code of Conduct.
We will listen to and act on any concerns children or their parents/carers raise with us. We are committed to protecting children from abuse. ‘Abuse’, as used in this policy, includes all the following types of abuse or neglect of children and young people:
physical; sexual; emotional/psychological; racial/cultural or spiritual/religious, or neglect.
Upholding Equity and Respecting Diversity
The College is blessed to have families from a wide range of ethnic, cultural and language backgrounds. We value and uphold this diversity and are enriched by it. Our beliefs - relating to the value of every child, regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation, race or ethnicity. ability or disability – underpin our policies and practices in ministry, behaviour management and pastoral care.
We pay particular attention to the needs of children with physical or intellectual, or learning disabilities and for those with English as a second language or other cultural differences.
Children who identify as LGBTIQ+ or who have gender dysphoria or anxiety or confusion about any of these identifications are protected from discrimination and cared for with the same consideration as offered to all children.
3.1. Employment of Staff and Volunteers
Recruitment, screening and selection practices
The College will be vigilant in the recruitment, selection and screening of all staff, contractors, activity 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 College upholds and exemplifies our Christian beliefs and values, as expressed in this Policy, 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 induction material.
- 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 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, that is, the Working With Children Check, the National Criminal Record Check and, for teachers, current registration with the V.I.T.
- 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 College, ie Chief Operations Officer.
Any staff member or volunteer with a record of child abuse, either sexual or physical, will not be offered a role that involves working with children or being in contact with children in the conduct of their duties.
- Short-listed applicants will be interviewed by at least two College representatives prior to appointment being made official. Interviews will include specific questions relating to allegations or complaints made against the applicant involving misconduct against a child. The applicant will sign the questionnaire verifying the truthfulness and accuracy of the statements.
3.2. Induction, Training and Annual Certification
The College provides a system of induction, support and supervision so people feel valued, respected and fairly treated. This system will train and guide our staff and volunteers in their interactions with children and clear procedures for managing programs and activities.
All staff are provided with a copy of this Child Protection Policy and Procedures and the Code of Conduct that defines unacceptable conduct, boundaries and expectations for behaviour. Staff will sign a declaration stating they have read, understand and will comply with guidelines and follow procedures faithfully.
Any person new to any class or area where there is work with youth or children will complete a Child-safe Induction process as part of their orientation to the College. (Normally this would be undertaken by the Child Protection Officer)
At least every two years training sessions are run for all staff and volunteers, to ensure staff awareness of the risks to child safety and familiarity with the College’s child-protective practices and reporting expectations, and where there have been changes to legislation or practice.
3.3. Support and supervision for Staff, Contractors and Volunteers
The College provides support and supervision so that people feel valued, respected and fairly treated in the following ways:
The College CPO checks WWCCs for all employed or volunteer staff annually. The WWCC authority regularly checks the suitability of staff for child connected work throughout period that the registration / check is held.
Staff are accountable to read and familiarise themselves with College policies annually, as available on the website and as directed by the leadership.
Those who work with children are aware that they are accountable to their peers, supervisors and ultimately, God for the safety and wellbeing of children in their care. Awareness, vigilance and conferring with colleagues and supervisors are important strategies that are encouraged in protecting our children.
3.4. Record Keeping
Record keeping is an essential element of our Child Protection strategies.
Teachers of children and other volunteers should keep personal notes of concerns, observations and disclosures regarding child abuse during the process of forming a reasonable belief.
Notes should be saved as a personal record, but in form that can be accessible to College leadership and external authorities, if required.
When a ‘reasonable belief’ has been established, these notes can be recorded as a Child Abuse Complaint Report Form, available from the CPO. The CPO can assist and support filling this out, if required. If it is clear that the belief requires a mandatory report, the notes and the Report Form can be supplied to the Police of the Child Protection Unit of DFFH.
If a report is made, then all notes and the Report Form will be saved to a case file, which will be kept by the CPO with all subsequent correspondence and materials relating to investigations, determinations and further actions.
Notes and forms will record places, times, dates, names of people, observable behaviours or evidence of harm. Reports must be securely stored by the CPO. They provide valuable legal documents for any investigations and demonstrate the College’s due diligence.
3.5. Privacy and Confidentiality
As much as is reasonably possible, an individual’s confidentiality is to be protected where allegations of child abuse are made.
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.
All policies, procedures and practices for keeping children safe will be reviewed:
every two years, or,
after every reportable incident
following changes to the law.
The policy review will assess whether the College’s Child Protection policies or procedures require modification to better protect the children under its care. The College undertakes to seek views, comments and suggestions from children, parents, carers, staff and volunteers.
3.7. Reporting and Investigation of Suspected Child Abuse
Child abuse, especially sexual abuse of a child must be reported, where a reasonable belief is held that the child concerned has been abused, is being or is likely to be abused. In Victoria ‘Failure to Report’ is a crime!
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.
A responsible adult can come to a reasonable belief through:
Disclosure by a child about abuse to his or herself.
Disclosure by another child or an adult about abuse to a child, or
Direct observation of the abuse or evidence of it by the reporting adult.
The identity of the abuser and the circumstances of the event determine the procedure that should be followed by the leadership, employees or volunteers of the College.
Abuse of a Child Outside of the College
If a child attending an ECA program discloses abuse against them or to another child by a person outside of the College community, then the procedures outlined in Child Protection Appendices 1b and 1c must be followed. All such disclosures should be written up on a Complaints Form (Appendix 2) and the Child Protection Officer/Executive Principal informed.
However, it is the duty of the person to whom the disclosure was made to report the matter to either the Police or Child Protection Services (DHHS), following the Reporting Procedure 1. The College leadership may also decide to make a report.
In this case, no further investigation by the College is required. However, all reasonable steps to protect the child from harm should be taken.
Abuse of a Child by a College employee, volunteer or contractor.
In the case of an allegation being made against staff member, volunteer, or contractor at the College, the Child Protection Coordinator will follow the Reporting Procedure in Child Protection Procedure 1 (Appendix 1a and 1c) to notify both the College leadership team and either the Police (if the matter is deemed severe or criminal) or the Child Protection Unit of DHHS.
In this case, then the additional requirements of the Reportable Conduct Scheme (See Appendices 4a, 4b and 4c) must also be followed by the Executive Principal, summarised here:
The College will take all steps to ensure that the safety of the child is paramount.
Step 1. Ensure that the details of the allegation are recorded on a College Complaint Form, and the Executive Principal or Leadership Team is informed. Report the matter to the Police or DHHS.
Step 2. Withdraw the accused person from active duty, which could entail standing down (with pay, where applicable), re-assignment to other duties that do not have direct contact with children, or to work under increased supervision while the matter is being investigated.
Step 3. Notify the Child Protection Services in accordance with the Reportable Conduct Scheme guidelines, that is, within three (3) working days.
Step 4. The investigation process should be completed within 30 days of notification, and the report of the investigation, including findings and actions taken (or decision not to act) will be sent to the Child Protection Services. In some cases it may be appropriate to bring in an investigator from outside the College, to avoid conflicts of interest.
When a report is made, the leadership will contact the insurer via GJ Insurance Consulting Pty Ltd. Ph 1300 384 799 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The College will appropriately investigate all allegations relating to an incident of abuse in accordance with its obligations and to the extent reasonably practicable.
In some circumstances, as described by the Reportable Conduct Scheme, it may be necessary for the College to conduct an investigation in addition to any investigation conducted by authorities (e.g. the police). The College may conduct an independent investigation into the allegation to the extent that it will not interfere with investigations by the Department or the police and will co-operate with the authorities as required. All people covered by this Child Protection Policy, Code of Conduct and Procedure must co-operate fully with any investigation by the Department, the police or the College.
In some circumstances, it may be appropriate for the College to engage a person (or persons) from outside the College to conduct an independent investigation in relation to allegations. 3
The College will make every effort to keep any such investigation confidential; however, from time-to-time other employees, leaders, volunteers and contractors may need to be consulted in conjunction with the investigation (e.g. to provide witness statements).
In the event of a child disclosing an incident of abuse to someone they trust it is essential that it is dealt with swiftly, sensitively and professionally.
The Child Protection Officer will receive the complaint and determine, in consultation with the Executive Principal, by whom and how an investigation will be conducted. The investigation will be conducted in accordance with procedural fairness to protect the integrity of the investigation and the interests of all the participants involved in the investigation. The College will also handle the allegations in a confidential manner to the greatest extent possible. The outcome will depend on the findings of the investigation, but may be (but not limited to):
withdrawal from current role;
re-assignment to duties with no contact with children;
disciplinary action, dismissal or criminal prosecution.
Section 4 - Code of Conduct
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 organisation.
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.
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 your 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 being, 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, are 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;
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
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.
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___
Eastern Executive Team Member