Child Safe Policy 2018
This Child Safe Policy has been endorsed by the Parish Pastoral Council and was approved by Father Novelito Lim on 6th June 2018.
Our commitment to child safety
Our Parish is committed to child safety. All children who come to the three different Parishes of Kerang, Cohuna and Pyramid Hill have a right to feel and be safe. The welfare of the children in our care will always be our first priority and we have a zero tolerance to child abuse. We aim to create a child safe and child friendly environment where children feel safe and have fun. This policy was developed in collaboration with our staff, volunteers, children who come to our parish and their parents. It applies to all staff, volunteers, children and individuals involved in our parish.
Children’s rights to safety and participation
St Mary's Parish staff and volunteers encourage children to express their views. We listen to their suggestions, especially on matters that directly affect them. We actively encourage all children who use our services to ‘have a say’ about things that are important to them. We teach children about what they can do if they feel unsafe. We listen to and act on any concerns children, or their parents, raise with us.
We value diversity and do not tolerate discriminatory practices in our Parish. To achieve this we:
promote the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of Aboriginal children and their families,
promote the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds and their families,
welcome children with a disability and their families to promote their participation,
seek appropriate staff from diverse cultural backgrounds
Recruiting staff and volunteers
St Mary's Parish applies the best practice standards in the recruitment and screening of staff and volunteers. We interview and conduct referee checks on all staff and volunteers and require Working with Children Checks for relevant positions. Our commitment to Child Safety and our screening requirements are included in all advertisements.
Code of Conduct
St Mary's Parish seeks to attract and retain the best staff and volunteers. We provide support and supervision so people feel valued, respected and fairly treated. We have developed a Code of Conduct to provide guidance to our staff and volunteers, all of whom receive training on the requirements of the Code.
Reporting a child safety concern or complaint
Our Parish takes all allegations seriously and has appointed the Chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council to be the Child Safety Person with specific responsibility for responding to any complains made by staff, volunteers parents or children. He/she can be contacted through the Parish office on 03 5452 1041.
Reportable Conduct Scheme (RCS)
The Victorian Government has introduced the new RCS to improve oversight of how organisations prevent and respond to allegations of child abuse. The RCS will not interfere with reporting obligations for Victoria Police or with Victorian Police investigations
The RCS applies to the following people associated with an organisation
Ministers of religion
Officers of a religious body
There are 5 types of “reportable conduct”
Sexual offences committed against, with or in the presence of a child
Sexual misconduct committed against, with or in the presence of a child
Physical violence against, with or in the presence of a child
Any behaviour that causes significant emotional or psychological harm to a child
Significant neglect of a child
When the “Head” of entity has been notified of an allegation they have a legal responsibility to report to the Commission for Children and young People (CCYP) within 3 business days and follow up with an investigation. The “Head” then has a responsibility to report to the CCYP with the outcome of the investigation within 30 calendar days.
We recognise the importance of a risk management approach to minimising the potential for child abuse or harm to occur and use this to inform our policy, procedures and activity planning. In addition to general occupational health and safety risks, we proactively manage risks of abuse to our children.
Children Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic)
Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic)
Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)
Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)
Three new criminal offences have been introduced under this act:
a) ‘Failure to disclose’ offence
A new offence came into effect on 27 October 2014 for adults who fail to disclose child sexual abuse to police. The new offence applies to all adults, not just professionals who work with children.
Any adult who holds a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child in Victoria must report that belief to police, unless they have a reasonable excuse for not reporting.
For information about how the offence may affect the reporting obligations of funded organisations and Department of Health & Human Services staff, a fact sheet is available to download.
b) ‘Failure to protect’ offence
A new 'failure to protect' offence came into effect on 1 July 2015 that applies to people within organisations who knew of a risk of child sexual abuse by someone in the organisation and had the authority to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently failed to do so. A fact sheet is available to download about the offence.
c) ‘Grooming offence’
A grooming offence is now in effect to target individuals who communicate with a child or their parents with the intent of committing child sexual abuse.
This policy will be reviewed every two years and following significant incidents if they occur. We undertake to seek views, comments and suggestions from children, parents, carers, staff and volunteers.
This next review of this policy is due on June 06 , 2020.