Child Safety: Information for Parents

Child Safety is Everybody’s Responsibility

As parents of children in Catholic schools, when you enrol your child, you should feel confident that their safety is a priority while at school and in the care of all members of the learning community. The care, safety and wellbeing of children is an essential and shared responsibility of everyone who attends, works or is involved in Catholic schools.

For a longer version of this video, and to view more video resources, go to the CECV YouTube channel.

For some additional information, watch our video: Why we focus on Child Safety

Additional resources for Catholic schools in Victoria are available on the Catholic Education Victoria Network (CEVN).

 

The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria (CECV) is committed to providing a safe and nurturing culture for all children and young people across all Victorian Catholic Schools.

At the heart of this commitment is Christ’s message of love, hope, justice and the innate dignity of each person.

School communities understand there are many areas of safety to consider when children are in their care. All schools have a duty of care to ensure children are learning, not only in a safe physical environment, but within a community that consists of a whole school culture of child safety, where respect, understanding and compassion for others is an integral part of all that we do.

To genuinely work in partnership with you throughout your child’s education, it is important that you are informed and aware of the improvement and the ongoing strengthening of child safe practices being implemented by the Victorian Government across all schools in Victoria.

On 26th November 2015, the Victorian Parliament passed the Child Wellbeing and Safety Amendment (Child Safe Standards) Bill 2015 (Vic.) to introduce the Victorian Child Safe Standards into law. The 7 Child Safe Standards apply to all organisations working with children including schools.

In accordance with the Ministerial Order No. 870, from 1st August 2016 all Victorian schools (Catholic, Government and Independent) are required to have plans in place to meet the new Victorian Child Safe Standards.

 

Child Safe Standards

Catholic schools have long been committed to providing safe learning environments for all children whilst in their care and remain committed to the continuous improvement and review of policies and procedures for ensuring the safety of children.

 

The 7 Child Safe Standards are explained below:

  1. Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety

As a community, we must take the safety of children to another level and ensure they are learning within a culture of shared responsibility that promotes safety and wellbeing of all children.
To achieve this it takes a team effort and one that involves a whole school community approach.

Questions to ask your school

How can our family assist in contributing to a culture of child safety in our school community?

 

2. A child safety policy or statement of commitment to child safety

The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria (CECV) has developed a commitment statement to child safety. Schools have developed policies indicating their commitment to child safety and these policies should be publicly available.

The CECV Commitment Statement to Child Safety refers to:

• upholding the safety and wellbeing of children and young people

• empowerment of families, children, young people and staff to have a voice and raise concerns

• Implementing rigorous risk-management and employment practices

The CECV Commitment Statement has been translated into a number of languages.

(add links to translations of CECV Commitment Statement)

Questions to ask your school

Where would I find the child safety policies for our school?

 

3. A child safety code of conduct

All Catholic schools are required to have a code of conduct for staff including volunteers.

Codes of conduct are developed by each individual school, often in consultation with the school board which includes parent representatives.

Questions to ask your school

Where would I find the code of conduct for staff at our school?

Further information and resources can be found at:

http://www.cecv.catholic.edu.au/getmedia/757da718-b964-492b-98e3-c580cc2a9106/Child-Safe-Standards-3.aspx

 

4. School staff selection, supervision, management practices for a child-safe environment

There are many people who work in schools both as employees and as volunteers. Further steps are being taken by schools to ensure each person who is involved or employed by a school follows specific checking processes and guidelines.

There are screening, supervision, training, professional learning and other human resources practices currently in place in all Catholic schools.

Teachers, by law in Victoria, must be registered through the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) and they apply for registration every twelve months.

Questions to ask your school

What checks do school employees and volunteers need to undertake to comply with the child safe standards?

What process do I need to follow if I would like to volunteer at our school?

Further information and resources can be found at:

http://www.cecv.catholic.edu.au/Industrial-Relations/Policies-and-Guidelines/Volunteers

http://www.vit.vic.edu.au

 

5. Procedures for responding to and reporting allegations of suspected child abuse.

In the event that you believe an incident needs to be reported, it is essential to understand the appropriate processes for raising concerns and reporting at your school. Each Catholic school will have school-based reporting policies and procedures.

School processes will be based on the state-wide protocol for identifying and responding to all forms of abuse. The protocol and associated documents resources below, were developed collaboratively by the Department of Education and Training, the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria (CECV) and Independent School Victoria (ISV):

Identifying and responding to all forms of abuse in Victorian schools

Four critical actions for schools: Responding to incidents, disclosures and suspicions of child abuse

Video animations identifying and responding to all forms of abuse

Questions to ask your school

What are the appropriate reporting processes for parents to follow if they identify a risk?

Who is the most appropriate person to speak with at our school about reporting processes?

 

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

Each Catholic school must develop and implement risk management strategies and practices regarding child safety in school environments.

Questions to ask your school

What child safety strategies are being implemented at our school?

What are the appropriate reporting processes for parents to follow if they identify a risk?

Further information and resources can be found at:

Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse

 

7.  Strategies to promote child empowerment and participation

Children and young people in Catholic schools are empowered to be the best they can be through a nurturing environment where they are respected, their voices are heard and they are supported to develop responsibility for their safety and the safety of others.

Many Catholic schools are building on current practices in their commitment to ensuring children are enabled to protect themselves or to ask for help if something doesn’t feel right.

Questions to ask your school

How are the students learning how to protect themselves and understand their own personal safety at our school?

Further information and resources can be found at:

A Guide to Support Victorian Schools to Meet Child Safe Standard 7

CECV Addendum to: A Guide to Support Victorian Schools to Meet Child Safe Standard 7