Your child safe environments policy is part of your child safe environments compliance statement. It sets out the steps your organisation takes to promote the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. It should be tailored to reflect your organisation’s focus and activities.
Your policy can be separate from, or part of, your organisation’s overall policy framework. You must involve staff, volunteers and service users (including children and young people) in the development of your policy and Code of Conduct wherever possible.
Your child safe environments policy must:
- show staff, volunteers, parents, guardians, carers, children and young people that your organisation is committed to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people
- set out appropriate standards of behaviour and practices for people working and volunteering with children and young people — that is, a Code of Conduct
- increase staff and volunteer awareness of the risk of harm to children and young people and the strategies in place to minimise them
- build staff and volunteer knowledge of how to identify if a child or young person is, or may be, at risk of harm and respond appropriately (including reporting where relevant)
- be relevant to the size, nature and resources of your organisation.
Developing a policy
Statement of your commitment
Your policy must clearly state your organisation’s commitment to the safety, protection and wellbeing of children and young people.
This statement might be quoted on newsletters, posters and in other contexts to ensure that this commitment is understood by everyone involved in your organisation.
“Our child safe environments policy was written to demonstrate the strong commitment of our organisation to the safety of children and young people and establishing and maintaining child safe and child-friendly environments.
We aim to create a child safe and child-friendly environment where all children and young people are respected, valued and encouraged to reach their full potential.”
Involve all members of your organisation in the development of your child safe environments policy and Code of Conduct. Wherever possible, this should include consultation with children and young people who receive your services.
Wide consultation will help ensure the policy is useful, understood and supported by everyone involved in your organisation.
When children and young people are involved in planning and decision-making, they feel empowered and are more likely to let people know when they feel unsafe. Your policy must include an undertaking to encourage children and young people to express their views, make suggestions and provide feedback.
Always ensure that feedback and suggestions made by children are acknowledged and acted upon wherever possible.
Choosing and developing the right people
Establish safe and fair recruitment and selection processes for staff and volunteers and ensure they receive ongoing supervision, support and training. Ensure that people who are:
- working with children and young people
- managing others working directly with children and young people
- allowed access to records of children and young people
have a current Working with Children Check.
Reporting any reasonable belief that a child or young person may be at risk of harm
Your staff and volunteers may be mandated notifiers and required by law to report any reasonable belief that a child or young person is, or may be, at risk of harm. Your organisation must have a policy for ensuring appropriate reports are made to the Child Abuse Report Line (CARL) on 13 14 78.
Child protection is everybody’s responsibility. All members of your organisation must be encouraged to report a reasonable belief that a child or young person is at risk of harm, regardless of whether they are legally obliged to or not.
Bullying and harassment
Your policy must identify how your organisation will address bullying and harassment by or against children and young people in your organisation.
Complaints management and disciplinary action
Establish a process for managing complaints and disciplinary proceedings that is accessible to everyone in your organisation (including children and young people) and refer to it in your policy.
Complaints are different to mandatory reporting requirements. Complaints and feedback are internal organisational matters, but mandatory notification is an obligation required by law.
Make sure everyone in your organisation is aware of your policies and is committed to achieving child safe environments. On request an organisation must provide copies of their child safe policies and procedures.
Child safe environments policies and procedures must be reviewed regularly. Where an organisation:
- expands the services they offer to children and young people, or
- undergoes a substantial change to the responsible or managing authority, or
- experiences an event or incident where a child or young person was, or could have been, at risk
the policies and procedures must be reviewed and updated as required.
The Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 requires that at a minimum, organisations must review policies and procedures (and if they make any changes re-lodge a compliance statement) at least once in every 5-year period.
On this site
- Child Safe Environments training
- Child safe environments compliance statements
- Lodging your compliance statement
- Creating a Policy
- What goes in your policy
- Resources for creating a child safe environments policy
- National Principles for child safe organisations
- Developing a Code of Conduct