Child Safety

Child Safe Procedure

Policy Code: CG1886

Purpose

This procedure details how the University will embed a culture of ‘no tolerance’ for child abuse and implement the Victorian Child Safe Standards. It covers material issues such as (i) what child abuse means, (ii) the forms it can take, (iii) the standards of behaviour expected, (iv) the risk management strategies against child abuse and (v) how to report issues of concern. This procedure will ensure that children experience the fundamental right to be safe from the following forms of harm:

  • Physical violence;
  • Sexual offences, including grooming with the intent to sexually abuse a child or engaging in sexual activity with a child under 16;
  • Serious emotional or psychological abuse;
  • Serious neglect; and
  • Unfair treatment on the basis of disability, culture, gender identity, sexual orientation and/or religion.

Scope

It is a shared and collective responsibility of all members of the University Community to create a child safe culture and environment.  

This procedure applies to all interactions with children regardless of whether the child or situation is associated with the University.

Legislative Context

  • Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic)
  • Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic) and the Child Safe Standards (Vic)
  • Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)
  • Federation University Australia Act 2010 (Vic)
  • Federation University Australia Union Collective Agreement (UCA) 2015-2018
  • The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act)
  • Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) – Standards for RTO’s 2015
  • VET Funding Contract
  • Victorian TAFE Teaching Staff Multi-Business Agreement (MBA) 2009
  • VRQA Guidelines to Minimum Standards 2015
  • Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic)

Definitions

A complete list of definitions relevant to this procedure is contained within the Child Safe Policy.

Actions

1. Applying a risk management framework to minimise the potential for child abuse to occur

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A. Developing and implementing strategies to identify and remove or reduce risks of child abuse Manager – Risk, Health and Safety
  1. Develop and maintain the necessary risk management strategies to appropriately mitigate against the risks of child abuse for Faculties/Directorates/Colleges/Centres.
  2. Integrate these strategies within the Annual OHS Planning requirements that apply to Faculties/Directorates/Colleges/Centres.
  3. Assist Executive Deans/Directors in implementing these strategies within their Faculty/Directorate/College/Centre.
Executive Deans/Directors
  1. Participate in training regarding the strategies outlined above against child abuse.
  2. Implement these strategies in all University activities and University locations within your Faculty/Directorate/College/Centre by:
    • identifying and mitigating the risk(s) of child abuse in the environment of your Faculty/Directorate/College/Centre, taking into account the nature of that environment, the activities expected to be conducted in it (including the provision of services by contractors, partner providers or other outside organisations), and the characteristics and needs of all children expected to be present in that environment;
    • making a record of any identified risks of child abuse occurring in your Faculty/Directorate/College/Centre; and
    • specifying the action(s) you are taking or will take to reduce or remove the risks (risk controls).
Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Chief Operating Officer
  1. Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the risk management strategies against child abuse and of the implementation of risk controls within your portfolio through the activities of your Portfolio Health and Safety Coordinating Team.
B. Utilising child safe recruitment practices Recruiting supervisor and Human Resources
  1. Ensure child safe recruitment practices are adopted in accordance the University’s Merit and Recruitment Selection Procedure and Working With Children Check Procedure.
  2. Ensure all new employees are provided with an overview of the Child Safe Standards, the University’s commitment to child safety and their responsibilities as employees.

2. Adhering to University's Child Safe Code of Conduct

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A. Adhering to the University’s Child Safe Code of Conduct (see Appendix One) All members of the University Community 1.   Adhere to the University’s Child Safe Code of Conduct (see Appendix One).

3. Educating staff and students about their responsibilities in ensuring child safety

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A. Ensuring all new employees are provided with an overview of the Child Safe Standards and the University’s commitment to child safety. Human Resources

1.     Ensure the online corporate induction for new employees includes an overview of the Child Safe Standards and the University’s Child Safe Code of Conduct.

2.     Monitor completion of the online corporate induction for all new continuing and fixed-term employees.

3.     Provide information on the Child Safe Standards and the University’s commitment to child safety on the University’s website.  Advise managers and above to inform all staff (including casual and sessional staff) and also contractors within Victoria.

B. Training for all employees who are in positions that deliver education and services to children: Human Resources and Legal Office

1.     Source, develop and deliver mandatory training sessions for identified staff on:

(i) their legal reporting responsibilities

(ii) warning signs that may indicate any of the following: physical, sexual, emotional and psychological, racial, cultural, religious abuse and/or neglect

(iii) acceptable and unacceptable behavior under the University’s Child Safe Code of Conduct

2.     Maintain records of attendance.

3.     Conduct regular refresher training.

C. Information session conducted for students and employees who are not in positions that deliver education and services to children Human Resources, Legal Office and Student Connect

1.     Source, develop and deliver information sessions for identified staff and students.

2.     Maintain records of attendance.

3.     Conduct subsequent information sessions as required.

4. Managing child safety reports in a compliant and consistent manner

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A. Responding to an emergency on University Campuses or in University activities where a child has just been abused or is at immediate risk of harm Any person at the scene
  1. Separate the alleged victim(s) and other(s) involved if safe to do so.
  2. Administer first aid if required and qualified to do so.
  3. If the incident is taking place on a University campus, immediately call the applicable Emergency Phone Number:
    • Ballarat and Wimmera - ext 6911 or call 5327 6911
    • Berwick - call 9905 3333
    • Gippsland - ext 333 or call 5122 6999
    Your call will prompt the intervention of University Security who will then notify emergency services.
  4. If the incident is taking place at a location away from the University campuses listed above, immediately call 000.
  5. Preserve any item that may amount to evidence of the abuse (scene of the incident, clothing and other physical items).
  6. Take reasonable precautions to prevent discussion of the incident between those involved in the alleged incident (including any other children who may have witnessed the incident).
B. Responding to an incident, disclosure or suspicion of child abuse Any member of the University Community over 18 years
  1. You must act in accordance with this Procedure if you form a suspicion or reasonable belief, even if you are unsure and have not directly observed the child abuse (e.g. if the victim or another person tells you about the abuse).
C. Mandatory reporting to authorities by designated professionals where a reasonable belief is formed that a child is in need of protection Designated professionals under the Children Youth and Families Act 2005, including doctors, nurses, midwives and teachers.
  1. Any staff member and/or student who is a doctor, nurse, midwife or teacher has a mandatory obligation to report any reasonable belief that a child is in need of protection in accordance with point D below, unless the person reasonably believes that a report has already been made by another person.
D. Reporting to authorities where a reasonable belief is formed that a child is in need of protection Any member of the University Community over 18 years
  1. Staff members who witness an incident, receive a disclosure or form a reasonable belief that a child has or is at risk of being abused, even if unsure or have not witnessed the child abuse directly, must report to their relevant Director / Head of School in the first instance, who may seek advice from the University Legal Office regarding the reporting process. 
  2. Students who witness an incident, receive a disclosure or form a reasonable belief that a child has or is at risk of being abused, even if unsure and have not witnessed the child abuse directly, must report to a University staff member in the first instance. The staff member must seek advice from their relevant Director / Head of School  who in turn may seek advice from the University Legal Office regarding the reporting process.
  3. If the suspected abuse is alleged against a FedUni staff member, volunteer, student or anyone from the University Community, then it must be reported to the University Legal Office and Victoria Police.
  4. If the suspected abuse is of a sexual nature (including grooming), then it must be reported to the University Legal Office and Victoria Police.
  5. If the suspected abuse comes from within the family or outside community, then the suspected abuse must be reported to DHHS Child Protection on 131 278 if a child is considered to be:
    • In need of protection from child abuse;
    • At risk of being harmed (or has been harmed) and the harm has had, or is likely to have, a serious impact on the child’s safety, stability, or development.
E. Reporting to authorities where a reasonable belief is formed that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child under 16 Any member of the University Community over 18 years
  1. Staff members who have a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child under 16 must report this to their relevant Director / Head of School in the first instance, who may seek advice from the University Manager, Equity and Equal Opportunity or Legal Office regarding the reporting process. 
  2. Students who have a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child under 16 must report this to a University staff member in the first instance. The staff member must seek advice from their relevant Director / Head of School  who in turn may seek advice from the University Manager, Equity and Equal Opportunity or Legal Office regarding the reporting process.
  3. An adult who has a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child under 16 must report this to Victoria Police unless they have a reasonable excuse not to do so or an exemption applies. Failure to report this to police is a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment.
  4. A reasonable excuse not to report to Victoria Police includes:
    • a fear for the safety of the victim or another person (except the alleged perpetrator) as a result of the disclosure; or
    • a reasonable belief that the information has already been disclosed to police (e.g. through a mandatory report made to DHHS).
  5. Exemptions from reporting to Victoria Police are as follows:
    • if the victim is 16 years or older at the time of providing the information and has requested confidentiality (except where the victim has an intellectual disability);
    • if the person comes into possession of the information when they were a child;
    • if the information is privileged (e.g. client legal privilege, journalist privilege or religious confessions);
    • if the information is a ‘confidential communication’ (written or oral communication of sexual abuse made by a child to a doctor or counsellor during treatment and assistance);
    • if the information is in the public domain;
    • if the person is a police officer acting in the course of his/her duty in respect of the victim of the alleged sexual offence; or
    • if the victim of the alleged sexual offence turned 16 years before 27 October 2014.
  6. A disclosure made in good faith does not constitute unprofessional conduct or breach of professional ethics and the person making the disclosure will not be subject to liability in respect of it.
F. Contacting parents/carers Director / Head of School
  1. The relevant Director / Head of School will determine who will consult with DHHS Child Protection and/or Victoria Police to determine if it is appropriate to contact the parents/carer, and if so, what information can be shared with parents/carers. They may advise:
    • Not to contact the parents/carer (e.g. in circumstances where the parents are alleged to have engaged in the abuse, or the child does not wish for their parent/carer to be contacted)
    • To contact the parents/carer and provide agreed information (this must be done as soon as possible, preferably on the same day of the incident, disclosure or suspicion).
G. Removing someone from the University Community who poses a substantial risk Deputy-Vice Chancellors / Chief Operating Officer (in consultation with the Legal Office and Director, Human Resources)
  1. If there is a substantial risk that an adult within the University Community may commit child abuse or a sexual offence against a child under 16, the University will take action to remove or reduce that risk.
  2. The Director, Human Resources shall ensure that any employment action taken by the University against an employee complies with existing employment laws, including relevant legislation, industrial agreements and employment contracts.
H. Investigating allegations against someone from the University  community Legal Office
  1. From 1 July 2017 allegations of child abuse against someone from the University Community are subject to the Victorian reportable conduct scheme.
  2. If the Legal Office is notified of an allegation of child abuse against someone from the University Community then it shall cause the allegation to be reported to the Victorian Commission for Children and Young People and ensure appropriate investigation of the allegation as directed by the Commission, unless it is subject to police investigation.
  3. At the conclusion of the investigation, any findings and reasons for the outcome of an investigation shall be reported to the Victorian Commission for Children and Young People.
I. Providing on-going support Director / Head of School
  1. If a student is impacted by suspected abuse, and it is deemed appropriate in the circumstances, the relevant Director/Head of School shall:
    • establish regular communication between staff and the child’s parent/guardian/carer (if this is appropriate) to discuss a child’s progress, wellbeing, and the effectiveness of planned strategies
    • provide referral to Health and Wellbeing, Student Connect (if this is appropriate)
    • convene a Student Support Group to plan on-going monitoring, support, and follow-up of the child’s health and wellbeing (Student Support Groups usually comprise wellbeing staff, teachers, allied health professionals and where appropriate the student and/or their parent/carer)
    • develop and implement a Student Support Plan, which documents the planned support strategies and includes timeframes for review (where possible, these support strategies should be informed by allied health and wellbeing professionals with expertise in addressing child abuse and trauma)

5. Promotion of the involvement and awareness of children

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A. Increase staff and students’ awareness of the University Child Safe Policy and Procedure Human Resources, Legal Office and Student Connect
  1. Create and display promotional materials as follows:
    • Poster to promote the awareness of the University’s Child Safe Policy and Procedure (to be displayed in University buildings);
    • University website.
  2. Insert a standard and consistent description of the Child Safe Policy and Procedure and management strategies into student information documentation e.g. website, student handbooks, student induction etc.
  3. Promote the Child Safe Policy and Procedure through Fed News.

Supporting documents

Internal Documents:

External Documents:

Forms

Responsibility

  • Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) (as the Approval Authority) is responsible for monitoring the implementation, outcomes and scheduled review of this procedure.
  • Director, Corporate Governance (as the Policy Sponsor) is responsible for maintaining the content of this procedure as delegated by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement).

Promulgation

The Child Safe Procedure will be communicated throughout the University community in the form of:

  1. an Announcement Notice via FedNews website and on the ‘Recently Approved Documents’ page on the ‘Policies, Procedures and Forms @ the University’ website to alert the University-wide community of the approved procedure; and
  2. distribution of e-mails to Executive Deans and Directors.

Implementation

The Child Safe Procedure will be implemented throughout the University via:

  1. an Announcement Notice via FedNews website and on the ‘Recently Approved Documents’ page on the ‘Policies, Procedures and Forms @ the University’ website to alert the University-wide community of the approved procedure;
  2. staff induction sessions
  3. training sessions

Records Management

Document Title Location Responsible Officer Minimum Retention Period
HIRAC for Child Safety Relevant faculty, school or directorate Executive Dean / Head of School / Director / Manager. 7 Years
PROTECT Responding to Suspected Child Abuse: A Template for all Victorian Schools University Legal Office Director, Corporate Governance  Permanent retention