STA Child Safety Policy

Child Safety Policy
July 2016
Date of next major review: Annually in February
Contents
1. Introduction ................................................................................................................................... 3
2. Purpose of the Policy .......................................................................
3. Principles ......................................................................................... 
4. Definitions used in this Policy .......................................................... 
5. Policy Commitments ....................................................................... 
6. Responsibilities and Organisational Arrangements .........................
6.1 Guide to Responsibilities of School Leadership ..................... 
6.2 Guide to Responsibilities of School Staff ............................... 
6.3 Organisational Arrangements ................................................ 
7. Expectation of our School Staff – Child Safety Code of Conduct ..... 
8. Student Safety and Participation ..................................................... 
9. Reporting and Responding .............................................................. 
10. Screening and Recruitment of School Staff ..................................... 
11. Child Safety – Education and Training for School Staff ................... 
12. Risk Management ............................................................................ 
13. Relevant Legislation ........................................................................ 
14. Related Policies ............................................................................... 
14.1 Catholic Education Melbourne Policies ................................. 
14.2 School Policies ....................................................................... 
15. Breach of Policy ..............................................................................
16. Review of this Child Safety Policy .................................................... .
17. References ...................................................................................... 

 

1. Introduction
At St Theresa’s School we hold the care, safety and wellbeing of children and young people as a
central and fundamental responsibility of our school. Our commitment is drawn from and inherent
in the teaching and mission of Jesus Christ, with love, justice and the sanctity of each human person
at the heart of the gospel.
The person of each individual human being, in his or her material and spiritual needs, is at the heart of
Christ’s teaching: that is why the promotion of the human person is the goal of the Catholic school
(Congregation for Catholic Education 1997, n. 9).
2. Purpose of the Policy
The purpose of this policy is to demonstrate the strong commitment of St Theresa’s School to the care, safety
and wellbeing of all students at our school. It provides an outline of the policies, procedures and strategies
developed to keep students safe from harm, including all forms of abuse in our school environment, on
campus, online and in other locations provided by the school.
This policy takes into account relevant legislative requirements within the state of Victoria, including the
specific requirements of the Victorian Child Safe Standards as set out in Ministerial Order No. 870.
This policy applies to school staff, including school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy.
3. Principles
Catholic schools have a moral, legal and mission-driven responsibility to create nurturing school
environments where children and young people are respected, their voices are heard and they are
safe and feel safe (CECV Commitment Statement to Child Safety).
The following principles underpin our commitment to child safety at St Theresa’s School
• All students deserve, as a fundamental right, safety and protection from all forms of abuse and
neglect.
• Our school works in partnership with families and the community to ensure that they are
engaged in decision-making processes, particularly those that have an impact on child safety and
protection.
• All students have the right to a thorough and systematic education in all aspects of personal
safety, in partnership with their parents/guardians/caregivers.
• All adults in our school, including teaching and non-teaching staff, clergy, volunteers, and
contractors, have a responsibility to care for children and young people, to positively promote
their wellbeing and to protect them from any kind of harm or abuse.
• The policies, guidelines and codes of conduct for the care, wellbeing and protection of
students are based on honest, respectful and trusting relationships between adults and
children and young people.
• Policies and practices demonstrate compliance with legislative requirements and cooperation
with the Church, governments, the police and human services agencies.
• All persons involved in situations where harm is suspected or disclosed must be treated
with sensitivity, dignity and respect.
• Staff, clergy, volunteers, contractors, parents and students should feel free to raise concerns
about child safety, knowing these will be taken seriously by school leadership.
• Appropriate confidentiality will be maintained, with information being provided to those who
have a right or a need to be informed, either legally or pastorally.
4. Definitions used in this Policy
Child: A child or a young person enrolled as a student at the school.
Child abuse includes:
(a) any act committed against a child involving:
(i) a sexual offence
(ii) an offence under section 49B(2) of the Crimes Act 1958 (grooming)
(b) the infliction, on a child, of:
(i) physical violence
(ii) serious emotional or psychological harm
(c) serious neglect of a child. (Ministerial Order No. 870)
Child safety encompasses matters related to protecting all children from child abuse, managing the
risk of child abuse, providing support to a child at risk of child abuse, and responding to incidents or
allegations of child abuse. (Ministerial Order No. 870)
Child neglect: The failure by a parent or caregiver to provide a child (where they are in a position to
do so) with the conditions that are culturally accepted as being essential for their physical and
emotional development and wellbeing. (Safe Schools Hub)
Child physical abuse: Generally, child physical abuse refers to the non-accidental use of physical
force against a child that results in harm to the child. Physically abusive behaviours include shoving,
hitting, slapping, shaking, throwing, punching, kicking, biting, burning, strangling and poisoning. The
fabrication or induction of an illness by a parent or carer (previously known as Munchausen
syndrome by proxy) is also considered physically abusive behaviour. (Safe Schools Hub)
Child protection: Statutory services designed to protect children who are at risk of serious harm.
(Safe Schools Hub)
Child sexual abuse: Any sexual activity between a child under the age of consent (16) and an adult or
older person (i.e. a person five or more years older than the victim) is child sexual abuse.
Child sexual abuse can also be:
• any sexual behaviour between a child and an adult in a position of power or authority over them
(e.g. a teacher); the age of consent laws do not apply in such instances due to the strong
imbalance of power that exists between young people and authority figures, as well as the
breaching of both personal and public trust that occurs when professional boundaries are
violated
• any sexual behaviour between a child and an adult family member, regardless of issues of
consent, equality or coercion
• sexual activity between peers that is non-consensual or involves the use of power or coercion
• non-consensual sexual activity between minors (e.g. a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old), or any
sexual behaviour between a child and another child or adolescent who, due to their age or stage
of development, is in a position of power, trust or responsibility over the victim. Sexual activity
between adolescents at a similar developmental level is not considered abuse. (Safe Schools
Hub)
Mandatory Reporting: The legal requirement to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect is
known as mandatory reporting. Mandated persons include teachers, nurses, police, psychologists,
psychiatrists and medical practitioners. (Safe Schools Hub)
Reasonable Belief: When staff are concerned about the safety and wellbeing of a child or young
person, they must assess that concern to determine if a report should be made to the relevant
agency. This process of considering all relevant information and observations is known as forming a
‘reasonable belief’. A ‘reasonable belief’ or a ‘belief on reasonable grounds’ is not the same as
having proof but is more than mere rumour or speculation. A ‘reasonable belief’ is formed if a
reasonable person in the same position would have formed the belief on the same grounds.
School environment means any physical or virtual place made available or authorised by the school
governing authority for use by a child during or outside school hours, including:
(a) a campus of the school
(b) online school environments (including email and intranet systems)
(c) other locations provided by the school for a child’s use (including, without limitation, locations
used for school camps, sporting events, excursions, competitions, and other events). (Ministerial
Order No. 870)
School staff means an individual working in a school environment who is:
(a) directly engaged or employed by a school governing authority
(b) a volunteer or a contracted service provider (whether or not a body corporate or any other
person is an intermediary)
(c) a minister of religion. (Ministerial Order No. 870)
5. Policy Commitments
All students enrolled at St Theresa’s School have the right to feel safe and be safe. The wellbeing of children
in our care will always be our first priority and we do not and will not tolerate child abuse. We aim to create
a child-safe and child-friendly environment where children are free to enjoy life to the full without any
concern for their safety. There is particular attention paid to the most vulnerable children, including
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse
backgrounds, and children with a disability.
Our commitment to our students
(a) We commit to the safety and wellbeing of all children and young people enrolled in our
school.
(b) We commit to providing children and young people with positive and nurturing
experiences.
(c) We commit to listening to children and young people and empowering them by taking
their views seriously, and addressing any concerns that they raise with us.
(d) We commit to taking action to ensure that children and young people are protected from
abuse or harm.
(e) We commit to teaching children and young people the necessary skills and knowledge to
understand and maintain their personal safety and wellbeing.
(f) We commit to seeking input and feedback from students regarding the creation of a safe
school environment.
Our commitment to parents and carers
(a) We commit to communicating honestly and openly with parents and carers about the
wellbeing and safety of their children.
(b) We commit to engaging with, and listening to, the views of parents and carers about our
child-safety practice, policies and procedures.
(c) We commit to transparency in our decision-making with parents and carers where it will
not compromise the safety of children or young people.
(d) We commit to acknowledging the cultural diversity of students and families, and being
sensitive to how this may impact on student safety issues.
(e) We commit to continuously reviewing and improving our systems to protect children from
abuse.
Our commitment to our school staff (school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy)
(a) We commit to providing all staff at St Theresa’s with the necessary support to enable
them to fulfil their roles. This will include regular and appropriate learning opportunities.
(b) We commit to providing regular opportunities to clarify and confirm policy and
procedures in relation to child safety and young people’s protection and wellbeing. This
will include annual training in the principles and intent of the Child Safety Policy and Child
Safety Code of Conduct, and staff responsibilities to report concerns.
(c) We commit to listening to all concerns voiced by St Theresa’s staff, clergy, volunteers, and
contractors about keeping children and young people safe from harm.
(d) We commit to providing opportunities for St Theresa’s school employees, volunteers,
contractors and clergy to receive formal debriefing and counselling arising from incidents
of the abuse of a child or young person.
6. Responsibilities and Organisational Arrangements
Everyone employed or volunteering at St Theresa’s School has a responsibility to understand the
important and specific role he/she plays individually and collectively to ensure that the wellbeing
and safety of all students is at the forefront of all they do and every decision they make. (CECV
Commitment Statement to Child Safety)
The school has allocated roles and responsibilities for child safety as follows.
6.1 Guide to Responsibilities of School Leadership
The principal, the school governing authority and school leaders at St Theresa’s School recognise
their particular responsibility to ensure the development of preventative and proactive strategies
that promote a culture of openness, awareness of and shared responsibility for child safety.
Responsibilities include:
• creating an environment for children and young people to be safe and to feel safe
• upholding high principles and standards for all staff, clergy, volunteers, and contractors
• promoting models of behaviour between adults and children and young people based on
mutual respect and consideration
• ensuring thorough and rigorous practices are applied in the recruitment, screening and
ongoing professional learning of staff
• ensuring that school personnel have regular and appropriate learning to develop their
knowledge of, openness to and ability to address child safety matters
• providing regular opportunities to clarify and confirm legislative obligations, policy and
procedures in relation to child and young people’s protection and wellbeing
• ensuring the school meets the specific requirements of the Victorian Child Safe Standards as
set out in Ministerial Order No. 870.
6.2 Guide to Responsibilities of School Staff
Responsibilities of school staff (school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy) include:
• treating children and young people with dignity and respect, acting with propriety, providing
a duty of care, and protecting children and young people in their care
• following the legislative and internal school processes in the course of their work, if they
form a reasonable belief that a child or young person has been or is being abused or
neglected
• providing a physically and psychologically safe environment where the wellbeing of children
and young people is nurtured
• undertaking regular training and education in order to understand their individual
responsibilities in relation to child safety and the wellbeing of children and young people
• assisting children and young people to develop positive, responsible and caring attitudes and
behaviours which recognise the rights of all people to be safe and free from abuse
• following the school’s Child Safety Code of Conduct.
6.3 Organisational Arrangements
St Theresa’s School’s governing authority is the Parish Priest who delegates to the Principal of the
school the day to day responsibility for child safety. The Principal in turn has entrusted St Theresa’s
School Leadership Team with a particular responsibility for child safety. The leadership Team acts as
the school’s Child Safety Team. Particular responsibility to lead and coordinate the school’s
endeavours is delegated to the school’s Student Wellbeing Leader who also acts as the school’s Child
Safe Leader. Particular responsibility is also delegated to the school’s Learning and Teaching Leader
who coordinates proactive endeavours to empower students through the school’s curriculum.
7. Expectation of our School Staff – Child Safety Code of Conduct
At St Theresa’s School community, we expect school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy
to proactively ensure the safety of students at all times and to take appropriate action if there are
concerns about the safety of any child at the school. All school staff must remain familiar with the
relevant laws, the code of conduct, and policies and procedures in relation to child protection and to
comply with all requirements. We have developed a Child Safety Code of Conduct which recognises
the critical role that school staff play in protecting the students in our care and establishes clear
expectations of school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy for appropriate behaviour with
children in order to safeguard them against abuse and or neglect.
Our Code also protects school staff through clarification of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
.
8. Student Safety and Participation
At St Theresa’s School we actively encourage all students to openly express their views and feel comfortable
about giving voice to the things that are important to them.
We teach students about what they can do if they feel unsafe and enable them to understand, identify,
discuss and report on child safety. We listen to and act on any concerns students, or their parents or carers,
raise with us. A separate document outlining school practices and process is available for viewing and is
regularly up-dated and revised according to new initiatives etc.
9. Reporting and Responding
Our school records any child safety complaints, disclosures or breaches of the Child Safety Code of
Conduct, and stores the records in accordance with security and privacy requirements. Our school
complies with legal obligations that relate to managing the risk of child abuse under the Children,
Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.), the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.) and the recommendations of the
Betrayal of Trust report.
Child protection reporting obligations fall under separate pieces of legislation with differing
reporting requirements.
Our school’s Child Protection – Reporting Policy, updated in May 2016 sets out the actions required
under the relevant legislation when there is a reasonable belief that a child at our school is in need
of protection or a criminal offence has been committed, and provides guidance and procedures on
how to make a report.
Our policy assists staff, volunteers and families to:
• identify the indicators of a child or young person who may be in need of protection
• understand how a ‘reasonable belief’ is formed
• make a report of a child or young person who may be in need of protection
• comply with mandatory reporting obligations under child protection law and their legal
obligations relating to criminal child abuse and grooming under criminal law.
Our school has also established internal processes to ensure that appropriate action is taken to
respond to concerns about the wellbeing and/or safety of a student.
10. Screening and Recruitment of School Staff
St Theresa’s School will apply thorough and rigorous screening processes in the recruitment of employees
and volunteers involved in child-connected work. Our commitment to child safety and our screening
requirements are included in all advertisements for such employee, contractor and volunteer positions, and
all applicants are provided with copies of the school’s Child Safety Code of Conduct and the Child Safety
Policy.
When recruiting and selecting employees, contractors and volunteers involved in child-connected work, we
make all reasonable efforts to:
• confirm the applicant’s Working with Children Check and National Police Check status and/or
professional registration (as relevant)
• obtain proof of personal identity and any professional or other qualifications
• verify the applicant’s history of work involving children
• obtain references that address the applicant’s suitability for the job and working with children.
We have processes for monitoring and assessing the continuing suitability of school staff to work with
children, including regular reviews of the status of Working with Children Checks and staff professional
registration requirements such as Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) registration.
11. Child Safety – Education and Training for School Staff
St Theresa’s School provides employees, volunteers and clergy with regular and appropriate
opportunities to develop their knowledge of, openness to and ability to address child safety matters.
This includes induction, ongoing training and professional learning to ensure that everyone
understands their professional and legal obligations and responsibilities, and the procedures for
reporting suspicion of child abuse and neglect.
12. Risk Management
At St Theresa’s School we are committed to proactively and systematically identifying and assessing risks to
student safety across our whole school environment, and reducing or eliminating (where possible) all
potential sources of harm. We document, implement, monitor and periodically review our risk management
strategies for child safety and ensure that the strategies change as needed and as new risks arise. This is
carried out by the staff as a team lead by the Child Safety Leader in conjunction with the Child Safety Team
and the Occupational Health and Safety Officer.
13. Relevant Legislation
• Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.)
• Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic.)
• Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic.)
• Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic.)
• Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)
• Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.) – Three new criminal offences have been introduced under this Act:
a) Failure to disclose offence: Any adult who forms a reasonable belief that a sexual
offence has been committed by an adult against a child under 16 has an obligation
to report that information to police. Failure to disclose the information to police is a
criminal offence.
b) Failure to protect offence: The offence will apply where there is a substantial risk
that a child under the age of 16 under the care, supervision or authority of a
relevant organisation will become a victim of a sexual offence committed by an
adult associated with that organisation. A person in a position of authority in the
organisation will commit the offence if they know of the risk of abuse and have the
power or responsibility to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently fail to do so.
i) Grooming offence: This offence targets predatory conduct designed to facilitate
later sexual activity with a child. Grooming can be conducted in person or online,
for example via interaction through social media, web forums and emails.
14. Related Policies
14.1 Catholic Education Melbourne Policies
• Policy 2.2: Guidelines Relating to the Employment of Staff (currently under review)
• Policy 2.19: Child Protection – Reporting Obligations
• Policy 2.19a: School Guidelines –Police and DHHS Interview Protocols
• Policy 2.20: Misconduct Policy (withdrawn and currently under review)
• Policy 2.26: Pastoral Care of Students in Catholic Schools(currently under review)
14.2 School Policies
• Child Protection – Reporting Obligations
• Pastoral Care Policy
• ICT Policy
• Responsible Use of Social Media Policy
• Student Supervision Policy
• Volunteer’s Policy
• Grievance and Complaints Procedures
15. Breach of Policy
Where an employee is suspected of breaching any obligation, duty or responsibility within this
Policy, St Theresa’s School may start the process under clause 13 of the Victorian Catholic Education
Multi Enterprise Agreement 2013 (VCEMEA) for managing employment concerns. This may result in
disciplinary consequences.
Where the principal is suspected of breaching any obligation, duty or responsibility within this
policy, the concerned party is advised to contact the parish priest or the employer. Relevant
notification should also be made to Catholic Education Melbourne (Office of Professional Conduct,
Ethics and Investigation).
Where any other member of the school community is suspected of breaching any obligation, duty
or responsibility within this policy, the school is to take appropriate action and/or contact Catholic
Education Melbourne (Office of Professional Conduct, Ethics and Investigation).
16. Review of this Child Safety Policy
At St Theresa’s School we are committed to continuous improvement of our child safety systems and
practices. We intend this policy to be a dynamic document that will be regularly reviewed to ensure
it is working in practice and updated to accommodate changes in legislation or circumstance.
We will maintain a history of updates to the policy.
History of Updates to Policy
17. References
Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd (CECV) 2016, Commitment Statement to Child Safety:
A safe and nurturing culture for all children and young people in Catholic schools.
Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd (CECV) 2013, Victorian Catholic Education Multi
Enterprise Agreement 2013, CECV.
Congregation for Catholic Education 1997, The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third
Millennium, Vatican.
Date Comment (e.g. major review, minor review)
Safe Schools Hub 2014, National Safe Schools Framework Glossary, Australian Government
Department of Education and Training.
State of Victoria 2016, Child Safe Standards – Managing the Risk of Child Abuse in Schools:
Ministerial Order No. 870, Education & Training Reform Act 2006, Victorian Government Gazette No.
S2.
Victorian Government Department of Justice 2016, Betrayal of Trust Implementation.

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