This Policy outlines 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 Casey’s children.
The City of Casey is committed to 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.
This Policy reflects Council’s legislative responsibility in meeting the requirements of the Child Safe Standards and our commitment to the community to create and sustain an environment where children are safe and protected from 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
Council is committed to creating a culture of child safety and recognises that protecting children and preventing and responding to child abuse is an organisation wide responsibility.
This Policy applies to all Councillors, employees including any person directly employed by the City of Casey or employed through an agency or on a contract basis, Council’s volunteers and work experience/work placement students, irrespective of their involvement in child related duties.
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.
Council will support the Child Safe Standards through the review of the following Policy documents and their supporting documentation (but not limited to):
- Council Plan 2013-2017
- Casey’s Children – A Plan for the Future 2012-2017
- Youth Strategy 2011-2016
- Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2013-2017
- Community Safety Strategy
- Community Development Principles
- Facility Planning and Access (Arts, Family & Community, Leisure, Sporting, joint use and location of services)
- Leisure Facilities Development Plan Policy
- Human Resources Policy and Processes
- Code of Conduct for Councillors, Employees and Volunteers
- Governance Charter
- Communications and Consultation Policy
- Social Media Policies / Digital Casey
- Diversity, Access and Inclusion Policy
- Events Policy
- Municipal Neighbourhood Safer Places Plan
- Neighbourhood Houses and Community Learning Centres Policy
- Sports Development Plan
- Volunteer Participation Policy
The 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 enhance the culture of child safety for the City of Casey.
5.1 Commitment to Child Safety
Council has zero tolerance of child abuse and is committed to creating and maintaining a child safe and child friendly City where all children are valued and protected from abuse.
The City of Casey is committed to creating and maintaining a child safe organisation where protecting children from abuse is embedded in the everyday thinking and practice of Council, all employees, contractors and volunteers.
5.2 Our Children
The City of Casey recognises children as active citizens and is committed to advocating for the rights of children as valued members of the community.
The City of Casey is a diverse community and is home to residents from around 150 countries.
Council values and celebrates diversity within the community and workforce, and actively encourages the safety, participation and empowerment of all children.
The City of Casey supports the health and wellbeing of all of Casey’s children, and is committed to:
- Promoting the cultural safety of Aboriginal children and children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds.
- Promoting the participation and empowerment of Aboriginal children and children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds.
- Providing a safe environment for children with a disability and will act to encourage their participation.
5.4 Legislative Requirements
The City of Casey has processes in place that will enable all Councillors, employees, contractors and volunteers to be aware of the organisation’s responsibilities as well as their own, regarding legal obligations relating to child abuse and reporting to appropriate authorities. This includes:
- Failure to disclose: Reporting child sexual abuse is a community-wide responsibility. All adults in Victoria who have a reasonable belief that an adult has committed a sexual offence against a child under 16 have an obligation to report that information to the police.
- Any personnel who are mandatory reporters (doctors, nurses, midwives, teachers (including early childhood teachers), principals and police) must report to child protection if they believe on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection from physical injury or sexual abuse
- Grooming: Grooming offence targets communication, including online communication, with a child under the age of 16 or their parents with the intent of committing child sexual abuse. This offence targets predatory conduct undertaken to prepare a child for sexual abuse at a later time with the groomer (aged 18 years old or over) or another adult.
- Failure to protect: People of authority within the Council will commit an offence if they have the power or responsibility to reduce or remove a substantial risk, where a child under the age of 16 years may become the victim of sexual abuse committed by an adult associated with the organisation; but negligently fail to do so.³
5.5 Risk Management
Council is responsible for effectively identifying and managing risk and for promoting a safe and healthy environment for employees, volunteers and the community.
In addition to general occupational health and safety strategies, the City of Casey will review and further develop risk management policies to ensure they comply with the Child Safe Standards.
5.6 Reporting and Responding to a Child Safety Concern
The City of Casey is committed to complying with all legal requirements regarding child safety concerns and where an alleged/suspected incident occurs, and provides structured reporting and responding processes that protect and support the health and wellbeing of children.
The City of Casey takes all allegations of abuse seriously and will investigate all allegations fairly and appropriately. All reports of allegations and child safety concerns will be recorded and stored securely.
Where appropriate, following a child safety concern Council will:
- Assist alleged victims and their families to access counselling and support services.
- Provide support to affected staff through Council’s Employee Assistance Program.
5.8 Employees, Contractors and Volunteers
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is responsible for appointing, directing and managing employees, contractors and volunteers.
The City of Casey will implement accurate and effective screening tools during the recruitment process to employ suitable employees, contactors and volunteers to minimise the risk of inappropriate individuals from entering the organisation.
The City of Casey has processes in place to ensure employees, contractors and volunteers are trained in child safety, and that they practice appropriate behaviour.
The City of Casey is responsible for ensuring that appropriate behaviour with children is clearly defined and expectations are accessible and understood by all employees, contractors and volunteers.
a) Employee and volunteer code of conduct
The City of Casey has clear and well established behavioural expectations of all employees, contractors and volunteers engaging in child related work including appropriate behavioural expectations for working with all children including Aboriginal, culturally and/or linguistically diverse children, and children with a disability.
All employees employed in accordance with the Casey City Council Enterprise Agreement and volunteers engaged in a City of Casey program, advisory, consultative or reference group/committee are made aware of and must abide by Council’s relevant Code of Conduct agreements.
b) Human resources and recruitment
The City of Casey employs a range of best practice screening measures and applies these standards in the screening and recruitment of employees, contractors and volunteers.
Council complies with all relevant regulatory and legal requirements when recruiting staff to ensure its employees and customers are not placed under unreasonable risk.
c) Training and supervision
The City of Casey will appropriately inform, and / or provide training for Councillors, employees, contractors and volunteers on child safety including the cultural safety of Aboriginal children, children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse background and children with disabilities.
All employees, contractors and volunteers are inducted and provided with ongoing supervision and support to increase their capacity to establish and maintain a child safe environment.
It is recognised that, from time to time, circumstances may change leading to the need for minor administrative changes to this document. Where an update does not materially alter this document, such a change may be made administratively. Examples include a change to the name of a Council department, a change to the name of a Federal or State Government department, and a minor update to legislation which does not have a material impact. However, any change or update which materially alters this document must be by resolution of Council.
The next review of this document is scheduled for completion by 1 December 2018.
Breaches of this policy may lead to action in accordance with Council’s Disciplinary Code, which may include termination of employment and/or referral to Victoria Police.
¹ Department of Health and Human Services, An overview of the Victorian child safe standards, available on the Department’s website.
²Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care, Cultural Safety, available at http://www.supportingcarers.snaicc.org.au
³ Further information about the failure to disclose offence, failure to protect offence and mandatory reporting is available from Department of Justice and Regulation, available on their website.