The purpose of this Policy is to guide the Melbourne School of Theology (MST) in developing a child protective culture and in establishing and maintaining child-safe environments for the children who are part of the College education and faith community.
- The Board of Directors,
- All faculty and staff, and volunteers, both full time and part time and official visitors,
- 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 (wherever Melbourne School of Theology conducts its courses).
1.1. Policy Statement: A Commitment to Child Protection
1.3. Policy Review
1.4. Operating Principles
2. The New Victorian Child Safe Standards
The College has adopted the new Victoria Child Safety Standards as below:
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. MST does not tolerate or promote racism, abuse or discrimination.
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.
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.
- 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.
3.1. Employment of Staff and Volunteers
- Our statements of commitment to child safety and our behavioural expectations of employees and volunteers are included iIn 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 MST Executive Team.
- 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.
- 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 MST Executive Team 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.
- every two years or,
- after every reportable incident
- following changes to the law.
- 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.
2. Abuse of a Child by a College employee, volunteer or contractor.
4. Case management
- withdrawal from current role;
- re-assignment to duties with no contact with children;
- increased supervision;
- disciplinary action, dismissal, or criminal prosecution.
- 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 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, 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;
- 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 MST Executive Team;
- 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.
- 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.