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Organisations must establish child safe environments policies and procedures and communicate them to everyone involved in the organisation.
Your child safe environments policy should:
- 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
- increase staff and volunteer awareness of risks 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 and respond appropriately
- be relevant to the size, nature and resources of your organisation.
Your policy sets out the steps your organisation will take to promote the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. It should be tailored and relevant to your organisation’s focus and activities.
Organisations must ensure that their policies and procedures meet the minimum requirements for establishing child safe environments.
Your organisation should develop a set of child safe environments procedures and a policy that best meets your services, activities and vision for child safe environments.
The Child safe environments compliance statement sets out the minimum criteria your organisation must meet to provide child safe environments.
Your policies and procedures should include:
- a risk management plan
- a code of conduct document
- procedures for dealing with personal and sensitive information
- staff and volunteer recruitment processes including ensuring a working with children check is conducted (where required)
- supervision and professional development
- procedure for reporting a suspicion that a child or young person is, or may be, at risk
- procedure for dealing with breaches of your child safe environments policy.
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.
Statement of your commitment
Your policy should 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.
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 should include an undertaking to encourage children and young people to express their views and make suggestions.
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 employees and volunteers and ensure your staff and volunteers receive ongoing supervision, support and training.
Reporting suspicion that a child or young person may be at risk
Your staff and volunteers may be mandated notifiers and required by law to report any suspicions that a child or young person is, or may be, at risk. Your organisation must have a policy for ensuring appropriate reports are made to the Child abuse report line, 13 14 78.
Child protection is everybody’s responsibility. All members of your organisation should be encouraged to report the suspicion that a child or young person is at risk, regardless of whether they are legally obligated to or not.
Bullying and harassment
Your policy should identify how your organisation will address bullying 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.
Review, update and refine
Child safe environments policies and procedures should be reviewed regularly. Where an organisation expands the services they offer to children and young people, 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 should 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.
Make sure everyone in your organisation is aware of your policies and is committed to achieving child safe environments. An organisation must, at the request of a parent or caregiver, produce for inspection a copy of the policies and procedures adopted at the relevant time.