Preparing A Child Safe Environment Policy

The following information provides guidance for schools in developing a child safe environment policy to meet requirements under Child Safe Standard 2.

 

Guidance for schools in developing their policy

Purpose

Identify the policy purpose. For example:

  • “The child safe environments policy: sets out the school’s approach to creating a child safe organisation where children and young people are safe and feel safe; and provides the policy framework for the school’s approach to the Child Safe Standards.”

Scope

Specify who the policy will apply to. For example:

  •  “All staff, volunteers, contractors and whether or not they work in direct contact with children or young people.”

Specify when the policy will apply. For example:

  • “Across a range of school forums (e.g. camps, online) and outside of school hours.”

Consider whether partner organisations will be made aware of the policy and the school’s underlying philosophy towards the care of children.

Statement of Commitment and Principles

Include your school’s Statement of Commitment and principles. To view an example statement, see:

Policy and procedures

Introduce the policy and procedures that will be outlined. For example:

  • “Policies and procedures outlining school’s approach to the Child Safe Standards are outlined below.”

You may wish to identify who a person can speak to for more information [insert name, role, contact details]. 

A child-safe culture

Introduce the intent of this element of the policy. For example:

  • “The school’s culture encourages staff to raise, discuss and scrutinise concerns making it more difficult for abuse to occur and remain hidden.”

Identify where further information may be found. For example:

  • “The school’s plan for creating a child safe culture can be found on the website at [insert hyperlink] and/or at the following school policy/ies.”

Personnel understand their roles and responsibilities/ Code of Conduct

Introduce the intent of this element of the policy. For example:

  • “School leaders and managers will ensure that each person understands their role, responsibilities and behaviour expected in protecting children and young people from abuse and neglect. Staff will comply with the school’s Code of Conduct."

Identify where further information may be found. For example:

  • “The school’s Code of Conduct sets out clear awareness of the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.”

Human resources practices and training

Introduce the intent of this element of the policy. For example:

  • “The school applies best practice standards in the recruitment and screening of staff, and will take all reasonable steps to ensure that it engages the most suitable and appropriate people to work with children. We will ensure that staff induction, education and training programs are a vital part of our commitment to safeguarding children and young people from abuse and neglect. All prospective staff and volunteers are required to undergo National Criminal History Records check and maintain a valid Working with Children Check.”

Identify where further information may be found. For example:

  • “The school’s approach to human resources practices that ensure child safety can be found on the website at [insert hyperlink] and/or at the following school policy/ies.”

Reporting a child safety concern or complaint

Introduce the intent of this element of the policy. For example:

  • “The school has clear expectations for staff and volunteers in making a report about a child or young person who may be in need of protection. Immediate action should include reporting their concerns to the DHHS Child Protection or another appropriate agency and notifying the principal or a member of the school leadership team of their concerns and the reasons for those concerns. The school will take action to respond to a complaint.”

Identify where further information may be found. For example:

  • “The school’s policy and procedures for reporting a child safety concern or complaint can be found on the website at [insert hyperlink] and/or at the following school policy/ies.”

Risk reduction and management

Introduce the intent of this element of the policy. For example:

  • “The School believes the wellbeing of children and young people is paramount, and is vigilant in ensuring proper risk management processes. The school recognises there are potential risks to children and young people and will take a risk management approach by undertaking preventative measures.”

Identify where further information may be found. For example:

  • “The school’s approach to Child Safety risk reduction and management can be found on the website at [insert hyperlink] and/or at the following school policy/ies."

Listening to children

Introduce the intent of this element of the policy. For example:

  • “The school has developed a safe, inclusive and supportive environment that involves and communicates with children, young people and their parents/carers. We encourage child and parent/carer involvement and engagement that informs safe school operations and builds the capability of children and parents/carers to understand their rights and their responsibilities.”
  • “When the school is gathering information in relation to a complaint about alleged misconduct with, or abuse of, a child the school will listen to the complainant’s account of things and take them seriously, check understanding and keep the child (or their parents/carers) informed about progress.”

Confidentiality and privacy

Introduce the intent of this element of the policy. For example:

  • “This school collects, uses and discloses information about particular children and their families in accordance with Victorian privacy law. The principles regulating the collection, use and storage of information is included in the School Privacy Policy.”

Policy evaluation and review

Introduce the intent of this element of the policy. For example:

  • “To ensure ongoing relevance and continuous improvement, this policy will be reviewed in the context of school self-evaluation undertaken as part of the school accountability framework. The review will include input from students, parents/carers and the school community.”

Definitions

Ministerial Order 870 provides definitions, including:

Child abuse

Child abuse includes:

  • any act committed against a child involving:
    • a sexual offence, or
    • an offence under section 49B(2) of the Crimes Act 1958 (grooming)
  • the infliction, on a child, of:

     

    • physical violence
    • serious emotional or psychological harm
    • serious neglect of a child.

Child-connected work

  • Child-connected work means work authorised by the school governing authority and performed by an adult in a school environment while children are present or reasonably expected to be present.

Child safety

Child safety encompasses matters related to protecting all children from child abuse, managing the risk of child abuse, providing support to a child at risk of child abuse, and responding to incidents or allegations of child abuse.

School environment

School environment means any physical or virtual place made available or authorised by the school governing authority for use by a child during or outside school hours, including:

  • a campus of the school
  • online school environments (including email and intranet systems)
  • other locations provided by the school for a child’s use (including, without limitation, locations used for school camps, sporting events, excursions, competitions, and other events).

School staff

School staff being: an individual working in a school environment who is:

  • directly engaged or employed by a school governing authority
  • a volunteer or a contracted service provider (whether or not a body corporate or any other person is an intermediary)
  • a minister of religion.

Related policies and documents