Child Safety: Procedures for Response to Child Abuse

Oct 17, 2016 - Fitzroy Primary School adopts the following processes when responding to and reporting suspected child abuse. If a child discloses an i...

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Child Safety: Procedures for Response to Child Abuse Fitzroy Primary School adopts the following processes when responding to and reporting suspected child abuse. If a child discloses an incident of abuse: • Try and separate them from the other children discreetly and listen to them carefully. • Let the child use their own words to explain what has occurred. • Reassure the child that you take what they are saying seriously, and it is not their fault and that they are doing the right thing. • Explain to them that this information may need to be shared others, such as with their parent/carer, specific people in your organisation, or the police. • Do not make promises to the child such as promising not to tell anyone about the incident, except that you will do your best to keep them safe. • Do not leave the child in a distressed state. If they seem at ease in your company, stay with them. • Complete an incident report form. • As soon as possible after the disclosure, record the information using the child’s words and report the disclosure to the Principal/Assistant Principal, police or child protection. • Ensure the disclosure is recorded accurately, and that the record is stored securely. If a parent/carer says their child has been abused in the school or raises a concern • Explain that your organisation has processes to ensure all abuse allegations are taken very seriously. • Ask about the wellbeing of the child. • Allow the parent/carer to talk through the incident in their own words. • Advise the parent/carer that you will take notes during the discussion to capture all details. • Explain to them the information may need to be repeated to authorities or others, such as the Principal, the police or child protection. • Do not make promises at this early stage, except that you will do your best to keep the child safe. • Provide them with an incident report form to complete, or complete it together. • Ask them what action they would like to take and advise them of what the immediate next steps will be.

FPS  October  2018  

• Ensure the report is recorded accurately, and that the record is stored securely. You need to be aware that some people from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds may face barriers in reporting allegations of abuse. For example, people from some cultures may experience anxiety when talking with police, and communicating in English may be a barrier for some. You need to be sensitive to these issues and meet people’s needs where possible, such as having an interpreter present (who could be a friend or family member). If an allegation of abuse involves an Aboriginal child, you will need to ensure a culturally appropriate response. A way to help ensure this could include engaging with parents of Aboriginal children, local Aboriginal communities or an Aboriginal community controlled organisations to review policies and procedures. Some children with a disability may experience barriers disclosing an incident. For example, children with hearing or cognitive impairments may need support to help them explain the incident, including through sign language interpreters. Advice on communicating with people with a disability can be found on the Department of Health and Human Services website . If you believe a child is at immediate risk of abuse phone 000. Legal responsibilities Every adult who reasonably believes that a child has been abused, whether in their organisation or not, has an obligation to report that belief to authorities. The failure to disclose criminal offence requires all adults (aged 18 and over) who hold a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed in Victoria by an adult against a child under 16 to disclose that information to police (unless they have a reasonable excuse not to, for example because they fear for their safety or the safety of another). More information about failure to disclose is available on the Department of Justice and Regulation website www.justice.vic.gov.au/home/safer+communities/protecting+children+and+families/failure+to+disclose+offe nce While failure to disclose only covers child sexual abuse, all adults should report other forms of child abuse to authorities. Failure to disclose does not change mandatory reporting responsibilities. More information about mandatory reporting is available in the Child protection manual . 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. See the Department of Health and Human Services website for information about how to make a report to child protection . The failure to protect criminal offence (commenced on 1 July 2015) applies where there is a substantial risk that a child under the age of 16 under the care, supervision or authority of a relevant organisation will become a victim of a sexual offence committed by an adult associated with that organisation. A person in a position of authority in the organisation will commit the offence if they know of the risk of abuse and have the power or responsibility to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently failed to do so. FPS  October  2018  

Further information about failure to protect can be found on the Department of Justice and Regulation website . Further information Further information on child safe standards can be found on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website . Additional resources for organisations in the child safe standards toolkit can be found on the Department of Health and Human Services website: . In particular, An Overview to the Victorian child safe standards, has information to help organisations understand the requirements of each of the child safe standards, including examples of measures organisations can put in place, a self-audit tool and a glossary of key terms: Note for registered schools: a forthcoming Ministerial Order under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 will contain the minimum actions that schools must take to meet each of the child safe standards. There will be a lead in time before regulation will commence to allow schools time to prepare. The Department of Education and Training and the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority will provide information and materials specifically for schools to assist with capacity building and compliance. Registered schools can contact the Department of Education and Training: [email protected] Early childhood services operating under the National Quality Framework or Children's Services Act 1996 should contact: [email protected] Licensed children's services enquiry line: 1300 307 415

These procedures were endorsed by School Council on October 17th 2016.

FPS  October  2018

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