CHILD SAFETY POLICY

PURPOSE

It is the policy of East Preston Islamic College (EPIC) that the learning and working environment is safe for all children in the School’s care. The purpose of this policy is to outline the School’s commitment to child safety whenever children are in the School’s care.

This policy has been framed in response to Ministerial Order 870.  In accordance with East Preston Islamic College’s governance structure, the School’s governing body assigns the responsibility for the discharge of this policy to the Principal.

DEFINITIONS

A Child means any student enrolled at EPIC.

Child connected work means work authorised by the EPIC governing body and performed by an adult in the School environment where children are present or reasonably expected to be present.

Child Abuse includes any act committed against a child involving:

  • A sexual offence;
  • A grooming offence;
  • The infliction on a child of physical violence, serious emotional or psychological harm or serious neglect.  Child Abuse includes but is not limited to Child Sexual Abuse.

Child Safety encompasses matters related to protecting all children from child abuse, managing the risk of child abuse, providing support to a child at risk of child abuse, and responding to incidents or allegations of child abuse.

 School environment means any physical or virtual place made available or authorised by the School’s governing body for use by a child during or outside school hours including:

  • a campus of the School;
  • online School environments (including email and intranet systems), and;
  • other locations provided by the School for a child’s use (including, without limitation, locations used for school camps, sporting events, excursions, competitions, and other School events).

School staff means an individual member of staff working for EPIC who is:

  • directly engaged or employed by the School’s governing body;
  • a volunteer;
  • contracted service provider (i.e. Casual Relief Teacher);

COMMITMENT TO CHILD SAFETY (refer to EPIC student welfare and discipline policy)

East Preston Islamic College:

  • is committed to child safety;
  • is committed to the safety, participation and empowerment of all of its students;
  • will not tolerate child abuse, and all allegations and safety concerns will be treated very seriously and consistently with our policies and procedures;
  • has legal and moral obligations to contact authorities when we have reasonable concerns about a child’s safety, which we follow rigorously;
  • is committed to preventing child abuse and identifying risks early, and/or removing and reducing these risks;
  • has recruitment policies and practices for all staff;
  • supports and respects all of its students. The School is committed to the cultural safety of students, the cultural safety of students from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, and to providing a safe environment for students with disabilities;
  • has specific policies, procedures and training in place that support our leadership team, and staff, to achieve these child safety commitments.

EPIC has a zero tolerance for child abuse. We do not tolerate harassment and bullying. We have encompassed a “HANDS OFF” policy. Bullying is deemed to be any cruel or hurtful behaviour by one person or group towards another. It includes:

  • physical violence (e.g. pushing, punching, hitting);
  • spreading rumours and name-calling damaging;
  • removing or hiding belongings;
  • leaving someone out of activities on purpose;
  • racist or sexist remarks and put-downs;
  • humiliating or ridiculing another;
  • invasion of personal space;
  • forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do;
  • threats or intimidation towards another.

East Preston Islamic College believes that the learning environment should be comfortable for all staff and students and free from any form of harassment. At EPIC, we believe in giving our students a voice. The power to voice their opinion and stand against any abuse, neglect and harassment. Harassment may take many forms including:

  • racial harassment—unfairly disadvantages people based on negative attitudes about cultural backgrounds and characteristics;
  • sexual harassment—verbal or physical acts which refer to a person’s sexuality or gender in an offensive or degrading manner;
  • verbal harassment—can overlap with any of the other forms of harassment, but also includes offensive language, slander, offensive notes or graffiti or telephone messages, SMS, email or messages on blogs or on social networking websites about others.

OUR STUDENTS (refer to EPIC Student Code of Conduct)

This policy is intended to empower our students.

All students of East Preston Islamic College community have the right to:

  • Feel safe, secure and comfortable at all times;
  • Feel that children with disabilities or who are vulnerable are safe and can participate equally.

East Preston Islamic College uses the practice of restorative justice. As such it will seek to achieve solutions which restore respect and harmony to all students of the College. Teachers will assist students who have committed a wrongdoing to do what is needed to make things right.

All students of East Preston Islamic College community have the responsibility to:

  • Keep themselves and their environment safe;
  • Show respect for themselves, for others and for the property of East Preston Islamic College.

Actions which take the form of abuse, harassment or assault or which are coercive, including those that are seemingly justified on the basis of being an initiation into, or punishment within a group, are unacceptable. Abuse and any type of harassment is not tolerated at the College. The College will provide support for anyone who feels that they are being harassed and will work towards resolving the issue with both parties. If the problem persists, a formal complaint should be made to the Vice Principal, who will investigate the complaint and take action appropriate to the circumstances.

EXPECTATIONS AND RESPONSIBILITIES (refer to EPIC Student Welfare and Discipline Policy)

Education and ongoing awareness is important to ensure that all people within East Preston Islamic College understands that child safety is everyone’s responsibility.  East Preston Islamic College aims for all staff (in addition to parents/guardians and children) to feel confident and comfortable in discussing any allegations of child abuse or child safety concerns.

At East Preston Islamic College, we seek to provide religious, spiritual, educational and cultural experiences that will help each student to develop:

  • universal moral values of compassion, honesty, truthfulness, courage, tolerance and forgiveness;
  • self-respect, self-discipline and respect for others;
  • respect for the school resources, property and the environment;
  • sensitivity to other people’s needs;
  • courtesy to new students, visitors and emergency teachers;
  • punctuality to school and classroom;
  • students have the right to voice their opinion and report and stand up against any bullying, neglect, abuse and harassment;
  • students who are experiencing any potential abuse to report their concerns to the EPIC wellbeing team;
  • sense of cooperation;
  • regard for personal safety and safety of others;
  • care in personal appearance;
  • Responsibility for their own learning.

OUR STAFF (refer to EPIC Employee Code of Conduct)

At East Preston Islamic College, 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 College, understands that when recruiting staff and volunteers we have ethical as well as legislative obligations.

We actively encourage applications from people with culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with a disability.

All staff (teaching and non-teaching) and volunteers are required to hold a Working with Children Check and to provide evidence of this Check. All teaching staff must ensure that they keep their VIT Registration and Criminal Record check is up to date. The teachers must always carry with them: Current Provisional VIT Card; or Current VIT Card with full registration and CRC printed on the card. All contractors attending the site will be supervised by an EPIC staff member.

The School educates and assists its staff to identify, assess, and minimise risks of child abuse and to detect potential signs of child abuse.

Additionally, new staff will be provided at induction with information to ensure they understand the School’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. Any inappropriate behaviour will be reported as per the School’s Child Safety Procedures.

 PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF OUR STAFF (Refer to EPIC Staff Handbook)

The staff of EPIC owes a duty of care to students. It is expected that all staff contribute towards the fulfilment of this legal duty. This duty of care is to take all reasonable steps to protect students from a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury.

Students should not be left unsupervised either within or outside of class. Staff should be punctual to class and allocated yard duty supervision. Any student who is allowed to leave or is sent from a class must have a note explaining the reason for being out of class and it must be signed by their classroom teacher or school diary must be used for this purpose.

Yard duty is an integral part of the responsibility of staff. It must take priority over other personal activities. It is unacceptable to be late. Staff should constantly supervise their designated area, being alert and actively move around.

Staff should avoid situations where they are alone in an enclosed space with a student. Where staff are left with the responsibility of a single student they should ensure that this is in an open space in view of others.

If a staff member needs to conduct a private conversation with a student, he/she should consider the time and venue carefully to avoid a situation where they may be making themselves vulnerable. It is preferable to leave the door open. The staff member should not locate themselves between the student and the door.

All staff should notify the Vice Principal immediately if they suspect a situation involving any form of child abuse which includes physical emotional and sexual abuse and take necessary action and follow protocol.


PROCEDURES FOR REPORTING AND RESPONDING

Teachers are legally required to report suspected incidents of physical (including sexual) abuse. Teachers may make direct reports or discuss the matter with the East Preston Islamic College wellbeing team.

Teachers making direct reports are to:

  • Telephone DHS and speak with a DHS case worker:
    • During business hours: 1300 664 977
  • After hours: 13 12 78
  • The teacher will then be asked to answer questions put by the DHS case worker.
  • Inform the EPIC Wellbeing team that they have made the report.
  • Fill out the DHS incident report form and note down the DHS reference number.

RISK MANAGEMENT

East Preston Islamic College has risk management strategies in place to identify, assess, and take steps to minimise child abuse risks.

REGULAR REVIEW

As part of its risk management strategy and practices, East Preston Islamic College will monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of its risk controls.  The policy will be reviewed every year and following significant incidents of child abuse if they occur.

LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES

While the child safe standards focus on organisations, 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.

  • 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.
  • Failure to protect: People of authority in the School will commit an offence if they know of a substantial risk of child sexual abuse and have the power or responsibility to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently fail to do so.
  • All members of staff who are designated mandatory notifiers must comply with their duties under the applicable legislation.

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.

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.

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.

For further information regarding any legalities please refer to the following websites:

www.dhs.vic.gov.au/

www.justice.vic.gov.au/home/safer+communities/protecting+children+and+families/failure+to+disclose+offence

www.cpmanual.vic.gov.au/advice-and-protocols/advice/intake/mandatory-reporting

www.justice.vic.gov.au/home/safer+communities/protecting+children+and+families/failure+to+protect+offence, and the Department of Health and Human Services website