Purpose

ABCN is committed to the safety and wellbeing of children. This Child Safe Policy informs and also serves as a guide to our approach to child safety for all individuals who come into contact with our organisation – including the ABCN Board, employees, facilitators, volunteer mentors and students on our programs.   

Our commitment to child safety

 ABCN’s commitment to child safety means that: 

  • We believe all children have a right to be safe, happy and empowered 
  • We support and respect all children, as well as our employees and volunteers and we are committed to the environmental and cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and to ensuring safe environments for children with a disability
  • We support zero tolerance of child abuse by treating all allegations and safety concerns with the highest priority, immediacy and seriousness in accordance with our robust policies and procedures 
  • We rigorously adhere to our legal, moral and ethical obligations to contact relevant authorities in the event of allegations of abuse or if we have concerns about a child’s safety
  • We are committed to preventing child abuse by early risk identification and the removal or reduction of these risks
  • We are committed to ensuring our employees and volunteer mentors are aware of our duty of care in relation to working with children across the education sector
  • Our selection processes for all employees are underpinned by strong recruitment practices 
  • We have, and will continue to develop, specific policies, procedures and training that support and direct our management, employees and volunteers to ensure we meet these commitments
  • We value the participation and feedback from all students on our programs
  • Our policies and approach are informed by the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. 

 Our Board, employees, facilitators and volunteer mentors 

 This policy informs ABCN Board, employees, facilitators and volunteer mentors on how to behave with children who have contact with the organisation. The policy also serves as a guide as to how these children will be safe, protected, heard and respected. It should be read in conjunction with our ABCN Code of Conduct. 

Recruitment and child safety at ABCN  

We take all reasonable steps to employ highly skilled people who will be safe with children and have a strong commitment to children’s wellbeing. These are the steps we take in relation to child safety during recruitment: 

  • Our selection criteria and advertisements clearly demonstrate our commitment to child safety, and awareness of our social and legislative responsibilities 
  • Candidates are required to submit a written application and are interviewed by ABCN
  • All people employed or contracted to facilitate programs are required to hold a Working with Children Check (WWCC) for their relevant jurisdiction in Australia and the WWCC must be current at all times
  • We use employment reference checks to check that the applicants’ past employment history is consistent with our commitment to child safety 
  • All new employees and facilitators are required to read and adhere to our Child Safe Policy and ABCN Code of Conduct, and to discuss with their manager during their induction
  • We have an on-the-job observation of team members and facilitators, and probationary periods for all ABCN employees
  • We ensure our employees, facilitators and volunteer mentors have any necessary briefings, training or support around child safety, including required training in any jurisdiction where a person may be a mandatory reporter. 

ABCN believes that child safety is everyone’s responsibility and we support all employees, facilitators and volunteer mentors to maintain child safe environments. 

Risk management

We will protect children when a risk is identified. In addition to general occupational health and safety risks, and organisational risks, we proactively manage risks of abuse to our children. We have risk management strategies in place to minimise child abuse risks. 

We have an ABCN Safeguarding Lead who is responsible for overseeing all matters in relation to child safety:  

Greg George, Interim CEO – Greg.George@abcn.com.au 

Reporting child protection concerns and complaints

ABCN takes all concerns and complaints in relation to child safety seriously and has practices and procedures in place to deal with them promptly, fairly and in accordance with any legal requirements. We recognise that we all have a responsibility, moral and legislated, to report an allegation of abuse if we have a reasonable belief that an incident took place. 

We work together with our partner schools to protect children and ensure that all employees, contract facilitators and volunteer mentors know what to do and who to tell if they: 

  • observe abuse or are a victim; 
  • notice inappropriate behaviour towards a child;  
  • notice behaviour from a child that demonstrates they have been harmed or are at risk of harm; or 
  • notice any suspected or actual breach of this Policy or ABCN Code of Conduct. 

The following steps should be followed: 

  • Any person receiving a disclosure from a child must ensure they listen and understand correctly; the concerned person is not authorised to investigate further. 
  • Any concern should be raised in the following way: 

If the concern is in relation to a child: 

  • A facilitator or volunteer mentor should report this immediately to their ABCN Program Manager
  • The ABCN Program Manager should facilitate a report to the teacher present on the program or the school principal so that the school can deal with the concern in accordance with its child protection policy
  • The ABCN Program Manager should inform their ABCN line manager and the ABCN Safeguarding Lead, and complete an internal Child Protection Incident report, summarising the action taken
  • If a concern is raised in South Australia and there is a reasonable suspicion that a child may be at risk, the contact number to notify CARL is 13 14 78. If a child is at immediate risk of harm, call SA police 131 444.* 

If the concern is in relation to an ABCN employee, facilitator, volunteer mentor or Board member: 

  • A report should be made to either the ABCN Program Manager or directly to the ABCN Safeguarding Lead  
  • The ABCN Program Manager will raise the concern with their ABCN line manager. They will not investigate the matter themselves but will work with the ABCN Safeguarding Lead who will make a decision about what action to take following a report, in accordance with any legal requirements. 

The safety and wellbeing of children are ABCN’s primary concern. We are also fair and just to our employees. The decisions we make when recruiting, assessing incidents, and undertaking disciplinary action will always be thorough, transparent and evidence-based. 

Privacy

All personal information considered or recorded will respect the privacy of the individuals involved, whether they be employees, volunteers, parents or children, unless there is a risk to someone’s safety. We have policies and practices in place to ensure any personal information is protected. We are transparent in how any information is recorded, what is done with the information and who will have access to it. 

Communication

This Child Safe Policy is available to everyone on our website. 

Regular policy review

This policy will be regularly reviewed, particularly following significant events should they occur. During reviews of this policy we will seek the input of employees, children and their families. Where possible we will do our best to consult and seek the view of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

Related documents: 

Working with Children Check Policy 

ABCN Code of Conduct 

 

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