Child Safe Policy

Approval Date: 10 July 2017

Background

On 17 April 2012, the Victorian Government initiated the Family and Community Development Committee’s Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations (Betrayal of Trust Inquiry).   

The Betrayal of Trust report was tabled in Parliament on 13 November 2013 and made 15 recommendations including compulsory minimum standards for creating child-safe environments.

On 26 November 2015, the Victorian Parliament passed the Child Wellbeing and Safety Amendment (Child Safe Standards) Act 2015 (The Act) to introduce Child Safe Standards.    

The seven Child Safe Standards support organisations that provide services to children to prevent child abuse, encourage reporting of abuse and increase the effectiveness of responses to allegations of child abuse.

Objectives

The purpose of this policy is:

  • to outline Council’s commitment to child safety by creating and maintaining a child safe city and a child safe workplace that supports the health and wellbeing of all of Latrobe City’s children.
  • to outline Council’s commitment in creating and maintaining a child safe organisation where protecting children and preventing and responding to child abuse is embedded in the everyday thinking and practice of all Councillors, employees, contractors and volunteers.
  • to reflect Council’s legislative responsibility in meeting the requirements of the Child Safe Standards.   

Commitment to child safety

Latrobe City Council has a zero tolerance to any form of child abuse and is committed to the safety, wellbeing and empowerment of children. We will create and maintain a child safe organisation where protecting children and preventing and responding to child abuse is embedded in the everyday thinking and practice of all employees, volunteers and contractors.

Scope

This Policy applies to all Councillors, employees (including any person directly employed by Latrobe City Council or employed through an agency or contract basis), and Council’s volunteers irrespective of their involvement in child related duties.

Principles of management

In complying with the child safe standards an applicable entity to which the standards apply must include the following principles as part of their response to each standard:

  • Promoting the cultural safety of Aboriginal children
  • Promoting the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • Promoting the safety of children with a disability

Standard 1: Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements.

Standard 2: A child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety.

Standard 3: A code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children.

Standard 4: Screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel.

Standard 5: Processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse.

Standard 6: Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse.

Standard 7: Strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.

This Policy meets Council’s obligations under Standard 2 of the Child Safe Standards – ‘A child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety’ and provides the opportunity for Council to improve their existing processes and practices and embed a child safety culture within Latrobe City Council.

Evaluation and review

This policy will be reviewed on request of Council, in the event of significant changes to legislation applicable to the subject matter of the policy or, in any other case, during each Council term (generally four years).

Accountability and responsibility

It is expected that all Councillors, employees, contractors and volunteers are accountable and responsible in adhering to this Policy, as well as any framework, process or procedure developed to achieve compliance with this policy.

Breaches of the policy

Where an officer fails to comply with this policy or the Child Safe Operational Policy, the issue shall be dealt with in accordance with Latrobe City Council’s Code of Conduct, and the Counselling, Discipline and Termination Procedure.

Where a Councillor fails to comply with this policy, the issue shall be dealt with in accordance with the Councillor Code of Conduct and Local Government Act 1989 requirements.

Where a contractor fails to comply with this policy, the issue shall be dealt with in accordance with the contract provisions specified.

Definitions

In this policy –

Council

Means Latrobe City Council, being a body corporate constituted as a municipal Council under the Local Government Act 1989

Councillors

Means the individuals holding the office of a member of Latrobe City Council

Aboriginal Child

A person under the age of 18 who is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and is accepted as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community.

Child

A person under 18 years of age

Child abuse

Any act committed against a child involving: physical violence, sexual offences, serious emotional or psychological abuse and serious neglect.

Children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds

A child or young person who identifies as having particular cultural or linguistic affiliations by virtue of their place of birth, ancestry or ethnic origin, religion, preferred language or language spoken at home or because of their parents’ identification on a similar basis.

Child related work

Work within one or more of the occupational fields defined in the Act where the contact with children is direct, unsupervised, and part of a person’s duties, not incidental to their work.

Child safe organisation

In the context of the child safe standards, a child safe organisation is one that meets the child safe standards by proactively taking measures to protect children from abuse.

Children with a disability

A disability can be any physical, sensory, neurological disability, acquired brain injury or intellectual disability or developmental delay that affects a child’s ability to undertake everyday activities. A disability can occur at any time in life. Children can be born with a disability or acquire a disability suddenly through an injury or illness. Some disabilities may be obvious while others are hidden.

Cultural safety for children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds

An environment which is spiritually, socially and emotionally safe, as well as physically safe for children; where there is no assault, challenge or denial of their cultural or linguistic identity, of who they are and what they need.  Efforts need to be made to ensure the culturally and/or linguistically diverse children and their families receive information in a culturally sensitive, relevant and accessible manner, including in relevant community languages.[1]

Cultural safety of Aboriginal children

Cultural safety encompasses the child being provided with a safe, nurturing and positive environment where they are comfortable with being themselves, expressing their culture, their spiritual and belief systems, and they are supported by the carer and family.[2]

Related documents

  • Latrobe City Councillor Code of Conduct
  • Latrobe City Staff Code of Conduct
  • Child Safe Standards Framework
  • Child Safe Standards Code of Conduct
  • Child Safe Standards Operational Policy

[1] Department of Health and Human Services, An overview of the Victorian child safe standards, available at  www.dhs.vic.gov.au/about-the-department/documents-and-resources/policies,-guidelines-and-legislation/child-safe-standards-resources

[2] Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care, Cultural Safety, available at http://www.supportingcarers.snaicc.org.au/connecting-to-culture/cultural-safety/