Child Safety

Child Safe Procedure

Policy code: CG1886
Policy owner: Director, Governance, Legal and Risk
Approval authority: Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer
Approval date: 27 May 2014
Next review date: 23 August 2023

Purpose

This procedure details how the University embeds a culture of ‘no tolerance’ for child abuse and implements the child safe standards across all areas of University operations. The Procedure provides advice regarding the University risk management framework, adherence to the University and external legislation, focused actions for Aboriginal young people, educating staff, managing complaints and promotion of awareness strategies. This procedure will ensure that the fundamental rights of all children to be safe from harm will be undertaken through the following:

  • Preventing all forms of child abuse, identifying risks early, and removing / reducing those risks.
  • Complying with the legal and moral obligations of the University Community in reporting allegations of child abuse, and alerting the appropriate authorities if there is a reasonable belief a child is in need of protection.
  • Upholding the safety of all children, including Aboriginal children, children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, children with a disability and from gender diverse and religious backgrounds.
  • Providing regular training and education to members of the University Community on the risks of child abuse.
  • Adverse risk associated with online presence (i.e. aligned to online learning and/or social media associated with the University).

This procedure aims to address the key Victorian standards and ten principles outlined in the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (Feb 2019).

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 (<18 years of age) associated with the University.

Legislative Context

  • Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic)
  • Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic)
  • Child Safe Standards (Vic) (Updated 1 July 2022)
  • National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (Feb 2019)
  • Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)
  • Federation University Australia Act 2010 (Vic)
  • Federation University Australia Union Enterprise Agreement 2019 -2021
  • The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency Act 2011 (TEQSA Act)
  • Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) –Standards for RTO’s 2015
  • VET Funding Contract
  • Federation University Australia TAFE Teaching Staff Agreement 2019
  • VRQA Guidelines to Minimum Standards 2019
  • Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic)

Definitions

Term Definition
Associated This includes all children on University campus' and utilising learning in the online environment, including but not limited to students and children of staff and students.
Child means a person under the age of 18 years.
Child Abuse

Child abuse can include physical or sexual harm, grooming, emotional or psychological harm, neglect, or family violence. It does not have to involve physical contact or force. It can include online elements associated to the learning environment. Child abuse can include:

  • Sexually abusing or exploiting a child;
  • Talking to a child in a sexually explicit way;
  • Grooming a child for future sexual activity;
  • Forcing a child to watch pornography;
  • Being witness to family violence;
  • Engaging in sexual activity with a child under 16;
  • Failing to provide a child with an adequate standard of nutrition, supervision or medical care to the extent that the development of the child is placed at serious risk or is significantly impaired.
Child Safe Standards

means the compulsory minimum standards (enacted pursuant to the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005) which apply to organisations. The eleven Victorian Child Safe Standards (2022) are listed below:   

Child Safe Standard 1 – Organisations establish a culturally safe environment in which the diverse and unique identities and experiences of Aboriginal children and young people are respected and valued

Child Safe Standard 2 – Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture

Child Safe Standard 3 – Children and young people are empowered about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously

Child Safe Standard 4 – Families and communities are informed, and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing

Child Safe Standard 5 – Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice

Child Safe Standard 6 – People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice

Child Safe Standard 7 – Processes for complaints and concerns are child focused

Child Safe Standard 8 – Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training

Child Safe Standard 9 – Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed

Child Safe Standard 10 – Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is regularly reviewed and improved

Child Safe Standard 11 – Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people

Grooming when a person engages in predatory conduct to prepare a child for sexual activity at a later time. Grooming can include communicating electronically or face-to-face and/or attempting to befriend or establish a relationship or other emotional connection with the child or their/parent carer.
Reasonable belief

A reasonable belief or a belief on reasonable grounds is not the same as having proof but is more than a 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. For example, a ‘reasonable belief’ might be formed if:

  • A child states that they have been physically or sexually abused;
  • A child states that they know someone who has been physically or sexually abused (sometimes the child may be talking about themselves);
  • Someone who knows a child states that the child has been physically or sexually abused;
  • Professional observations of the child’s behaviour or development leads a professional to form a belief that the child has been physically or sexually abused or is likely to be abused;
  • Signs of abuse lead to a belief that the child has been physically or sexually abused;
  • A report has been made of a sexual relationship with a child under 16.
Working with Children Check A legislative requirement and process of assessment as prescribed in the Working with Children Act 2005 and subsequent Regulations as amended from time to time.
University Community

The University Community includes the following people and organisations:

  • Staff members;
  • Students;
  • Members of the University Council and other University bodies and committees;
  • All contractors and organisations engaged by the University within Victoria, including subcontractors; and
  • Partner providers within Victoria.

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 Associate Director,Governance, Legal and Risk
  1. Develop and maintain the necessary risk management strategies to appropriately mitigate against the risks of child abuse for Institutes/Directorates/Colleges/Centres/Federation TAFE.
  2. Integrate these strategies within the Annual OHS (Occupational Health and Safety) Planning requirements that apply to Institutes/Directorates/Colleges/Centres/Federation TAFE.
  3. Assist Deputy Vice-Chancellors/Pro Vice- Chancellors/Executive Deans/Deans/Directors in implementing these strategies within their Institutes/Directorate/College/Centres/Federation TAFE

Executive Deans

Deans

Directors

  1. Participate in mandatory training and strategies provided to support child safety
  2. Implement these strategies in all University activities and University locations within your Institute/Directorate/College/Centre by:
    • identifying and mitigating the risk(s) of child abuse in the environment of your Institute/Directorate/College/Centre,Federation TAFE, 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 Institutes/Directorate/College/Centre/Federation TAFE; and
    • specifying the action(s) you are taking or will take to reduce or remove the risks (risk controls).

Deputy Vice-Chancellors (DVC) and Pro Vice- Chancellors(PVC)

Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Manager, Health, Safety and Wellbeing

  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.
  2. Analyse complaints, concerns and safety incidents to identify causes and systemic failures to inform continuous improvement
  3. Report on the findings of relevant reviews of child safe practices to staff and student stakeholders (as required)
B. Utilising child safe recruitment practices Recruiting supervisor and People and Culture Selection Chair Panel
  1. Ensure child safe recruitment practices are adopted in accordance the University’s Recruitment and Merit Selection Procedure and Working with Children Check Procedure
  2. Ensure all new employees are  provided with an overview of the current Child Safe Standards [Vic]1 July 2022) and National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (Feb 2019) and alignment with 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. All members of the University Community Read and follow all the aspects of the University’s Child Safe Code of Conduct.
B. Adhere to all internal university policies, procedures, reporting frameworks and external legislative standards and requirements

All members of the University Community

Executive Deans/Deans

Directors/Managers

3. Focused actions to support unique identities and experiences of Aboriginal young people

  ACTIVITY RESPONSIBILITY STEPS
A.      Supporting Aboriginal children and young people to express their culture

Director, People and Culture

Executive Deans/Deans

Directors/Managers

1.     The managers must provide all members of the community access to the following university-wide documents aligned to Aboriginal young people:

Note: Institutional plans must have evidence of engagement with relevant communities and families for the purpose of creating a child safe environment.

B. Ensuring all staff and volunteers receive relevant cultural training so they have an understanding of Aboriginal culture, and an appreciation for culturally sensitive issues

Director, People and Culture

Executive Deans/Deans

Directors/Managers

1.     Complete ‘Indigenous Cultural Awareness – Foundations’ training module (every 2 years)

2.     Complete the ‘Child Safe Standards’ training module (every 2 years)

C. Identifying and addressing incidences of racism with the involvement of Aboriginal children and young people, and their families, and

Director, People and Culture

Executive Deans/Deans

Directors/Managers

1.     Ensure staff and students are aware of grievance processes (i.e. The ‘Student Complaints and Concerns’ website provides advice to students.
D. Ensuring the organisation’s policies, procedures, systems, processes and measures create a culturally safe and inclusive environment for Aboriginal children and young people. All members of the University Community

1.     Updating policies and procedures (as appropriate)

 

4. 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. Director, People and Culture
  1. Ensure the online corporate induction for new employees includes an overview of the Child Safe Standards and this procedure (including the failure to disclose and failure to protect offences).  
  2. Ensure all staff are aware of the University’s Child Safe Code of Conduct, Child Safe Standards (Vic) (Updated 1 July 2022) and the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (Feb 2019).
  3. Monitor completion of the online corporate induction (‘Child Safe Standards’ module) for all new continuing and fixed-term employees (completed every 2 years). This professional development considers consultation with families and feedback from the university community.
  4. Update the information on the ‘Child Safe Standards’ module relevant to the current standards.
  5. Provide clear information regarding 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 contractors.
B. Ongoing training for all employees. Director, People and Culture
  1. Provide 2 yearly updated refresher training to all staff on:
    1. their legal reporting responsibilities
    2. warning signs that may indicate any of the following: physical, sexual, emotional and psychological, racial, cultural, religious abuse and/or neglect
    3. acceptable and unacceptable behaviour under the University’s Child Safe Code of Conduct
  2. Maintain records of completion of the ‘Child Safe Standards’ training module and report to managers (as required)
  3. Provide opportunities for staff to engage in annual professional development supported by the HR Professional Development Training Calendar: Link to website and aligned to child safety and wellbeing
  4. Provide opportunities for staff to engage in annual professional development alignment to learning and teaching and creating inclusive and safe learning environments (See Centre for Academic Development Professional Development offerings)
C. Information provided to students regarding expectations and processes aligned to child safe practices and logging a complaint

Dean, Students and Registrar

Executive Deans

  1. Student induction processes include reference to the key university procedures listed in the Child Safe Procedure outlining prevention and support services. Induction processes may include standardised statements in the following student dissemination options:
  2. Student online module “Equal Rights are Your Rights”
  3. At Orientation sessions lead by staff delivered to students and to residences
  4. Through Residential Handbooks
  5. Through ‘FedReady’ Online learning
  6. Ensure students are aware of the following expectations and university processes to support them including how to log a complaint:

5. 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, Berwick and Gippsland :1800 333 732 (1800 FED SEC)

    Wimmera : 000

    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).
  7. If the incident is taking place in an online environment, disengage online and immediately call 000.
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 through the course of their profession or employment a reasonable belief is formed that a child is at significant risk of harm and in need of protection from physical injury or sexual abuse.

Designated professionals under the Children Youth and Families Act 2005.

The following are mandatory reporters in Victoria:

  • registered medical practitioners
  • nurses

  • midwives
  • registered teachers and early childhood teachers
  • early childhood workers
  • school counsellors
  • registered psychologists
  • people in religious ministry
  1. Any designated mandatory reporter who, through the course of their profession or employment, forms a reasonable belief that a child may be at significant risk of harm and in need of protection from physical injury or sexual abuse has a legal obligation to report their belief to DHHS child protection.
  2. Mandatory reporting obligations cannot be delegated and should another person be nominated by the University to report to DHHS, the mandatory reporter maintains an obligation to ensure this has occurred.
    The obligation to report remains with the designated professional and cannot be overruled by the University, even if more senior staff do not share the same reasonable belief as the designated professional.
  3. A report must be made as soon as reasonably possible and any further incidents which reinforce this belief must also be reported.
  4. Failure to comply with mandatory reporting requirements can incur a fine of 10 penalty points.
  5. At the conclusion of a mandatory report made by a staff member, a de-identified record shall be reported to Legal Office, and agreement sought on safe storage of the confidential record.
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 Deputy Vice-Chancellor/Pro Vice- Chancellor/Executive Dean/Dean/ Director as soon as reasonably possible. 
  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 report the matter to their relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor/Pro Vice-Chancellor/Executive Dean/Dean/Director.
  3. On receipt of a report a Deputy/Vice-Chancellor/Pro-Vice Chancellor/Executive Dean Dean/Director must seek advice from the Chair, Safer Campuses Team regarding the reporting process.
  4. If the suspected abuse is alleged against a University staff member, volunteer, contractor or officeholder, then it must be reported to the Chair, Safer Campuses Team and Victoria Police. The Chair, Safer Campuses Team will then ensure the matter is reported in accordance with part 4H of this Procedure.
  5. If the suspected abuse is of a sexual nature (including grooming), then it must be reported to the Chair, Safer Campuses Team and Victoria Police.
  6. 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 Deputy Vice-Chancellor/Pro Vice-Chancellor/Executive Dean/Dean/Director as soon as possible. 
  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 immediately report the matter to their relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor/Pro-Vice Chancellor/Executive Dean/Dean/Director.
  3. A Deputy Vice-Chancellor/Pro Vice-Chancellor/Executive Dean/Dean/Director who receives a report must immediately seek advice from the Chair, Safer Campuses Team regarding the reporting process, including reporting to police.
  4. 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 in person or by telephone 131 444 unless they have a reasonable excuse not to do so or an exemption applies. Failure to report this to police is a criminal offence 'Failure to Disclose' with a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment.
  5. 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).
  6. 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);
    • if the information is a ‘confidential communication’;
    • 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.
  7. 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 Deputy Vice-Chancellor/Pro Vice-Chancellor/Executive Deans/Deans/Directors
  1. The relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor/Pro Vice Chancellor/Executive Dean/Dean/Director 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 Chancellor/ Pro Vice Chancellor/Chief Operating Officer (in consultation with the Legal Office and Director, People and Culture)
  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. If a University employee poses a substantial risk then action may be taken in accordance with the Serious Misconduct provisions of the University's Staff Code of Conduct (e.g. reallocation of duties or suspension with or without pay pending investigation). The Director, People and Culture 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.
  3. If a University student poses a substantial risk then action may be taken in accordance with University Regulation 6.1 - Student Discipline (e.g. disciplinary hearing or suspension from University campuses or associated activities (See Definitions "Associated")).
  4. Persons in positions of authority within the University including the Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellors and Pro Vice Chancellors / Chief Operating Officer who negligently fail to take reasonable action to protect a child from a known threat of abuse may face prosecution under 'Failure to Protect' laws.
H. Investigating allegations against a FedUni staff member, volunteer, contractor or officeholder Legal Office/People and Culture
  1. From 1 July 2017 allegations of child abuse against a University staff member, volunteer, contractor or officeholder are subject to the Victorian reportable conduct scheme.
  2. When the Legal Office receives sufficient details of an allegation of child abuse against a University staff member, volunteer, contractor or officeholder then it shall cause the allegation to be reported to the Vice-Chancellor (or the Chancellor if the allegation is against the Vice-Chancellor) as soon as possible.
  3. Within 3 business days of the report to the Vice-Chancellor, the Legal Office will report the allegation on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor to the Victorian Commission for Children and Young People (“Commission”) and ensure appropriate investigation of the allegation as directed by the Commission, unless it is subject to police investigation.
  4. Within 30 days of the initial report to the Commission, the Legal Office will update the Commission with further details of the allegations and investigation.
  5. At the conclusion of the investigation, any findings and reasons for the outcome of an investigation shall be reported to Legal Office.
I. Providing on-going support Executive Deans/Deans/Directors/Managers
  1. If a student is impacted by suspected abuse, and it is deemed appropriate in the circumstances, the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor/ Pro Vice Chancellor/Executive Dean/Dean/Director 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 Student Engagement - Health and Wellbeing, Student Connect (if this is appropriate) and/or Equity and Diversity where additional culturally or developmentally appropriate support may be required.
    • 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)
J. Students logging a complaint or concern All students
  1. At any point, a student may log a complaint and or concern relevant to their experience. This complaint maybe associated with any part of the university environment
  2. Refer to further instructions at the ‘Student Complaints and Concerns’ website location.

6. 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

Director, People and Culture, Legal Office

Dean, Students and Registrar

Director, People and Culture

  1. Create and display promotional materials as follows:
  2. Insert a standard and consistent description of Child Safe Procedure and management strategies into student information documentation e.g. website, student handbooks, student induction etc.
  3. Promote the Child Safe Procedure through FedNews.
  4. Permanent and fixed term staff are required to complete the 'Child Safe Standards' online training module every two years

Responsibility

  • Chief Operating Officer (as the Approval Authority) is responsible for monitoring the implementation, outcomes and scheduled review of this procedure.
  • Director, Governance, Legal and Risk (as the Policy Sponsor) is responsible for maintaining the content of this procedure as delegated by the Chief Operating Officer.

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 Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Pro Vice-Chancellors, Deans, 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 Institute or Directorate Deputy Vice-Chancellor / Executive Dean / Director. 7 Years
PROTECT Responding to Suspected Child Abuse: A Template for all Victorian Schools University Legal Office Director, Governance, Legal and Risk Permanent retention