Our schools work with parents to strengthen the wellbeing and learning outcomes of all students within a safe, inclusive and respectful learning environment. Strategic planning focuses on the development of school-wide practices and cultures that enable children and young people to reach their potential in all areas – spiritually, cognitively, physically, emotionally and socially.
Policies, curriculum design and teaching practices, which align with the Australian Student Wellbeing Framework, are based on evidence that highlights strong links between safety, wellbeing and learning.
For more information on the Australian Student Wellbeing Framework, see https://studentwellbeinghub.edu.au/parents/framework.
Our schools have policies regarding positive relationships, student wellbeing and behaviour management. These may include positive behaviour plans and protocols. The documents outline expectations and responsibilities that promote mutual care, acceptance, inclusion, courtesy and respect.
Our schools also have policies and strategies for preventing and/or responding to bullying behaviours and serious offences. These policies and strategies are based on government requirements and the pastoral care policy of the Catholic education office in each diocese.
Many schools appoint dedicated student wellbeing leaders to work with principals and other teaching staff to promote wellbeing and support services. Our school communities have access to a wide range of student wellbeing support in areas which include:
- child protection and safety
- student health services
- personal development
- respectful relationships and friendships
- student voice and empowerment
- resilience and mental health
- behaviour management
- anti-bullying education
- drug education
- sun protection.
If your child has high medical needs, for which school staff require specialised training, and is enrolled in a Catholic secondary school in Victoria, they may be eligible for a service provided in partnership with the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH). Schools are able to apply for the RCH Schoolcare Program through Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS).
For more information, call MACS on 03 9267 0228 or email email@example.com.
Child Safe Standards
Catholic schools in Victoria are places of welcome and safety for students and their families. Children have the right to be safe and protected, including at school. As parents of students in Catholic schools, it is important you feel confident that your child is safe and well in the care of their school. There is no tolerance for child abuse in our schools.
School leadership teams regularly review and strengthen their child safe practices, and work with staff and parents to build and maintain a culture in which children’s safety is embedded in everyday thinking and practice. This requires respect, understanding and compassion for others as an integral part of all that we do.
All schools have a duty of care to ensure children are learning, not only in safe physical and online environments, but within a community where deliberate steps are taken to protect children from physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse and neglect.
Schools have to meet legal requirements for the care, safety and welfare of students. Schools are also required to meet the updated Victorian Child Safe Standards, as outlined in Ministerial Order No. 1359. These updated standards came into effect on 1 July 2022.
For information about the Victorian Child Safe Standards in Catholic schools, see www.cecv.catholic.edu.au/Our-Schools/Child-Safety.
Bullying and cybersafety
Catholic schools take bullying seriously and have a commitment to the safety and protection of all children in their care. Likewise, parents have a key role in preventing and responding to bullying.
Learning what bullying is and what it is not is the first step in talking about how to prevent or respond to bullying with your child. ‘Bullying’ is a word that is sometimes used for a range of incidents and quarrels that may not be bullying. These other behaviours may be just as serious, but require different responses.
We know bullying, including cyberbullying, can make people feel unsafe at school and miserable when they get home. We believe it is important that all children and young people know they are being heard, their feelings matter and their issue will be investigated fairly and respectfully.
The best outcomes to address bullying are achieved when teachers work with you to help resolve ongoing conflicts at school. This may include teachers working with parents of other students who may be involved. Establishing a shared understanding of bullying across the entire school community is an investment in positive and lasting solutions.
The Bullying. No Way! and eSmart websites provide useful information about bullying and online safety for students, parents and teachers.
The Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s Student Wellbeing Hub provides advice to help parents support their child, build positive communication with their child’s school and contribute actively to the wider school community.
To learn more about the online environment and keep up to date on the use of technology for children, see the eSafety Commissioner’s information for parents at www.esafety.gov.au/parents.
Classroom and playground safety
The care and safety of children is a priority for Catholic school principals, staff and their communities.
Creating child safe environments involves the active participation of teachers, students, families and communities. Teachers work hard to build positive relationships within the classroom and the wider school community, and to help young people understand the impact of their behaviour on those around them.
You as parents play a vital role in the mental health, happiness and wellbeing of your child, which in turn affects their sense of identity as well as their achievement. Through effective communication channels, families and teachers are able to work together to develop students’ resilience skills, and strengthen their relationships and school connectedness.
Children and young people in Catholic schools are empowered to be the best they can be through a nurturing environment where equity is upheld and diverse needs are respected. All children and young people are respected, their voices are heard, and they are supported to develop responsibility for their safety and the safety of others.
We know that when parents work in partnership with their child’s school, there is a shared understanding of the values and behaviours that contribute to a respectful and supportive learning environment.
For information about dealing with bullying, coping with anxiety and helping your child to develop positive relationships, see the Student Wellbeing Hub.
In cases of emergency or ill health, the school will immediately contact you so you can collect your child or approve the appropriate medical attention. It is important to ensure that your contact details are up to date.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction which requires life-saving medication. A severe allergic reaction usually occurs within 20 minutes of exposure and can rapidly become life-threatening. Anaphylaxis must be treated as a medical emergency, requiring immediate treatment and urgent medical attention.
Each of our schools has an Anaphylaxis Management Policy which includes the training of relevant staff. A medically approved individual Anaphylaxis Management Plan is required for each student at risk, and parents are required to provide this plan and their child’s EpiPen® to the school.
Our schools support and encourage healthy eating through various curricular and practical initiatives. In schools where canteens operate, guidelines have been developed to provide students with healthy eating suggestions.
As a parent, you have an important role in helping to ensure your child receives a consistent message about healthy eating and being active.
For useful ideas and more information about healthy eating and physical activity, see www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au and www.nutritionaustralia.org.
Too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause sunburn, skin and eye damage, and skin cancer. UV damage accumulated during childhood and adolescence is strongly associated with an increased risk of skin cancer later in life.
Two in three Australians develop some form of skin cancer before the age of 70; however, most skin cancer is preventable. Our schools have sun protection policies and practices to minimise the risk of skin and eye damage, and skin cancer.
Our schools are committed to implementing a combination of sun protection measures (clothing, sunscreen, hats, shade and sunglasses). Sun protection is required whenever UV levels reach three and above – the level that can damage skin and eyes. This is typically from mid-August to the end of April in Victoria (not just in Terms 1 and 4).
As a parent, you have an important role in ensuring that your child develops and maintains healthy sun protection habits throughout adolescence. Being a role model of sun-protective behaviours is one way to help your child do this. Another is being aware of when UV rays will be dangerous and require sun protection.
For useful ideas and more information about sun protection and skin cancer prevention, including a SunSmart app which highlights daily sun protection times, see Cancer Council Victoria’s SunSmart website www.sunsmart.com.au.