Our commitment to Child Safety
Jacana School for Autism is committed to providing a child safe environment where children and young people are safe and feel safe, and their voices are heard about decisions that affect their lives.
Jacana School for Autism has a zero tolerance for child abuse. All allegations and safety concerns will be treated seriously and consistently in accordance with robust policies and procedures.
Child Safe Standards
Victorian Government schools are child safe environments. Our schools actively promote the safety and wellbeing of all students, and all school staff are committed to protecting students from abuse or harm in the school environment, in accordance with their legal obligations including child safe standards.
This policy is intended to empower children who are vital and active participants in our organisation. We involve them when making decisions, especially about matters that directly affect them. We listen to their views and respect what they have to say.
We promote diversity and tolerance in our organisation, and people from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds are welcome. In particular we:
Our staff and volunteers
This policy guides our staff and volunteers on how to behave with children in our organisation.
All of our staff and volunteers must agree to abide by our code of conduct which specifies the standards of conduct required when working with children. All staff and volunteers, as well as children and their families, are given the opportunity to contribute to the development of the code of conduct.
Training and education is important to ensure that everyone in our organisation understands that child safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Our organisational culture aims for all staff and volunteers (in addition to parents/carers and children) to feel confident and comfortable in discussing any allegations of child abuse or child safety concerns. We train our staff and volunteers to identify, assess, and minimise risks of child abuse and to detect potential signs of child abuse.
We also support our staff and volunteers through ongoing supervision to: develop their skills to protect children from abuse; and promote the cultural safety of Aboriginal children, the cultural safety of children from linguistically and/or diverse backgrounds, and the safety of children with a disability.
New employees and volunteers will be supervised regularly to ensure they understand our organisation’s commitment to child safety and that everyone has a role to play in protecting children from abuse, as well as checking that their behaviour towards children is safe and appropriate (please refer to this organisation’s code of conduct to understand appropriate behaviour further). Any inappropriate behaviour will be reported through appropriate channels, including the Department of Health and Human Services and Victoria Police, depending on the severity and urgency of the matter.
We take all reasonable steps to employ skilled people to work with children. We develop selection criteria and advertisements which clearly demonstrate our commitment to child safety and an awareness of our social and legislative responsibilities. Our organisation understands that when recruiting staff and volunteers we have ethical as well as legislative obligations.
We actively encourage applications from Aboriginal peoples, people from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with a disability.
All people engaged in child-related work, including volunteers, are required to hold a Working with Children Check and to provide evidence of this Check. Please see the Working with Children Check website <www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au> for further information
We carry out reference checks and police record checks to ensure that we are recruiting the right people. Police record checks are used only for the purposes of recruitment and are discarded after the recruitment process is complete. We do retain our own records (but not the actual criminal record) if an applicant’s criminal history affected our decision making process.
If during the recruitment process a person’s records indicate a criminal history then the person will be given the opportunity to provide further information and context.
The safety and wellbeing of children is our primary concern. We are also fair and just to personnel. The decisions we make when recruiting, assessing incidents, and undertaking disciplinary action will always be thorough, transparent, and based on evidence.
We record all allegations of abuse and safety concerns using our incident reporting form on Accelerus, including investigation updates. All records are securely stored.
If an allegation of abuse or a safety concern is raised, we provide updates to children and families on progress and any actions we as an organisation take.
All personal information considered or recorded will respect the privacy of the individuals involved, whether they be staff, volunteers, parents or children, unless there is a risk to someone’s safety. We have safeguards and practices in place to ensure any personal information is protected. Everyone is entitled to know how this information is recorded, what will be done with it, and who will have access to it.
Our organisation takes our legal responsibilities seriously, including:
In Victoria, organisations are required to protect children when a risk is identified (see information about failure to protect above). In addition to general occupational health and safety risks, we proactively manage risks of abuse to our children.
Further information about the failure to disclose offence 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+offence>.
Further information about the failure to protect offence is available on the Department of Justice and Regulation website <www.justice.vic.gov.au/home/safer+communities/protecting+children+and+families/failure+to+protect+offence>.
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<www.dhs.vic.gov.au/about-the-department/documents-and-resources/reports-publications/guide-to-making-a-report-to-child-protection-or-child-first>.
Procedure for responding to and reporting allegations of child abuse:
Students, staff, parents, carers who have a concern about an allegation of child abuse can speak/report to:
• Classroom teacher
• Sub-school Leader
• Student Engagement and Wellbeing Leader
• Principal Class Team
The actions the school will take to respond to an allegation of child abuse include:
• Inform appropriate authorities about an allegation of child abuse (including but not limited to mandatory reporting)
• Protect any child connected to the alleged child abuse until the allegation is resolved
• Make, secure and retain records of the allegation of child abuse and the school’s response to it.
The school’s procedures will not:
• Prohibit or discourage school staff from reporting an allegation of child abuse to a person external to the school
• State or imply that it is the victim’s responsibility to inform the police or other authorities of the allegation
• Require staff to make a judgement about the truth of the allegation of child abuse
• Prohibit staff from making records in relation to an allegation or disclosure of child abuse
In responding to a concern the staff member must document the concern and forward immediately to a member of the Principal Class Team or delegate.