Our Commitment to Child Safety
Banyule Community Health believes that all children should have the right to feel safe and be safe all of the time.
Banyule Community Health acknowledges the important role we can play in leading child safety at all levels within our community. We acknowledge that physical, sexual, emotional, religious, cultural and racial abuse and neglect does sometimes happen and we are committed to taking responsibility to prevent and protect children.
Banyule Community Health recognises that children are vulnerable, has implemented a range of strategies to ensure they are safe, listened to and have access to trusted adults. Child safety strategies can include a range of preventative and protective measures that have application across the entire organisation.
Children in our community are made up of diverse groups with many unique experiences. We understand that the journeys of children can be challenging and will work to ensure culture is respected and safety always comes first.
Cultural identity and safety is fundamental to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Banyule Community Health will work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to ensure children feel safe and respected within the local environment and create opportunities for children to be heard and supported within their culture.
Our program aims to create a safe environment, safe experiences and safe relationships focussing around our community, families and children with Banyule Community Health.
In an emergency call 000
For more information see:
- Sexual Assault Crisis Line (SACL) (24 hours) 1800 806 292
- 1800 Respect (24 hours) national telephone line for victims of sexual assault & family
- Victims of Crime Help Line (7 days, 8am-11pm) 1800 819 817
- E-Safety Commissioner for information on technology-facilitated abuse, cyberbullying and safety strategies
- Child Protection Service DHHS (24 hours) 131 278
Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre (24 hours) for women and children: 24 hour support 1800 015 188 or 9322 3555
Kid’s Help Line 1800 551 800
Anytime, any reason.
Banyule Community Health is committed to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. This policy articulates our organisational responsibility to prevent child abuse and protect the safety of children. It aims to protect children and reduce any opportunities for child abuse or harm to occur, ensuring that all Banyule Community Health workers understand how to avoid or better manage risky behaviours and situations.
This policy applies to all Banyule Community Health Board, workers, contractors and co-located workers. The term workers is inclusive of volunteers and students.
Banyule Community Health adopts the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and is guided by its policy statements that all children should have the right to feel safe and be safe all of the time.
Banyule Community Health acknowledge our role in leading child safety at all levels within our community and we will not tolerate child abuse. We acknowledge that physical, sexual, emotional, religious, cultural and racial abuse and neglect occurs, and we take our responsibility to prevent abuse and protect children seriously.
Banyule Community Health has a long-term commitment to the health and wellbeing of children, with a range of specialised services that support the growth, development, education, cultural connection and wellbeing of children. Banyule Community Health commits to learn from past practices, and to have in place, systems and processes that meet National and Victorian child safe standards.
Banyule Community Health recognises that children are vulnerable and need organisations to implement strategies to ensure they are safe, listened to and have access to trusted adults. Our child safety strategies include a range of preventative and protective measures that are applied across our physical and online environments.
Children in our community are made up of diverse groups with many unique experiences. Banyule Community Health understands that the journeys of children can be challenging and will work to ensure culture is respected and safety always paramount. We value diversity and will not tolerate discriminatory practices.
Cultural identity and safety are fundamental to Aboriginal children and we will work with Aboriginal communities to ensure children feel safe and respected within the local environment and create opportunities for children to be heard and supported within their culture.
Children with disabilities can be more vulnerable to abuse due to their isolation and possible lack of access to community services. Banyule Community Health commits to ensuring children with disabilities experience responsive, respectful and nurturing service.
The term ‘Aboriginal’ in this policy is inclusive of First Nations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- any act committed against a child involving:
- a sexual offence
- grooming offences under section 49M(1) of the Crimes Act 1958
- the infliction, on a child, of:
- physical violence
- serious emotional or psychological harm
- the serious neglect of a child. (Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005)
The words ‘child’ and ‘children’ in this policy refers to children and young people up to the age of 18 years. This definition is consistent with the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021 2031, the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 and the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.
Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS) and Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS)
CISS and FVISS provide authorised organisations, including Banyule Community Health, with an expanded ability to share confidential information with other authorised services to promote the wellbeing or safety of children or to assess or manage family violence risk.
Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP)
We are an independent statutory body that promotes improvement in policies and practices affecting the safety and wellbeing of Victorian children and young people.
The use of the word ‘harm’ is often used to describe an event that is seen as possibly less detrimental than ‘abuse’ but is clearly not in the child’s best interest or promoting their safety and wellbeing. However, the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act uses the word “significant” in relation to emotional or psychological harm or neglect, defining it as that “the harm or neglect is more than trivial or insignificant, but need not be as high as serious and need not have a lasting permanent effect”.
Is defined as the wilful or deliberate behaviour by a Banyule Community Health worker that is inconsistent with the continuation of the contract of employment. It includes conduct that cause’s serious and imminent risk to the health or safety of a person; or the reputation and viability of Banyule Community Health.
Types of Harm and Abuse:
Emotional and psychological abuse:
When a child is repeatedly rejected, isolated, or frightened by threats. It also includes hostility, derogatory name-calling and put-downs, and persistent coldness from a person to the extent that the child suffers, or is likely to suffer, significant emotional or psychological harm to their physical or developmental health.
Behaviour by a person towards a family member where the behaviour is:
- physically, sexually, emotionally, psychologically or economically abusive;
- is threatening or coercive; OR
- in any other way controls or dominates the family member, and
- causes that family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of that family member or another person.
A child can be victim to any of these behaviours. Family violence also includes behaviour that causes a child to hear or witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of, any of these behaviours.
Grooming (sexual abuse)
When a person engages in predatory conduct to prepare a child for sexual activity at a later time. Grooming can include communicating or attempting to befriend or establish a relationship or other emotional connection with the child or their parent or carer.
A failure to provide a child with an adequate standard of nutrition, medical care, clothing, shelter or supervision.
Any non-accidental infliction of physical violence on a child by any person. It can be inflicted in many ways, including beating, shaking or burning and assault with implements and female genital mutilation.
Racial, cultural and religious abuse
Conduct that demonstrates contempt, ridicule, hatred or negativity towards a child because of their race, culture or religion. It may be overt, such as direct racial vilification or discrimination, or covert, such as demonstrating a lack of cultural respect (attitude and values).
When a person uses power or authority over a child to involve them in sexual activity and can include a wide range of sexual activity. It does not always involve physical contact or force and can include exposing a child to pornography or communicating with a child in a sexually explicit way
Sources: Child Safe Standards – definitions (www.vic.gov.au), Protect: Identifying and Responding to All Forms of Abuse in Victorian Schools (Dept. Education and Training, 2018) and Safety of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CCYP, un-dated)
Banyule Community Health works within the eleven Child Safe Standards (2022) established by the Victorian State Government. These standards align with the Australian Government’s National Child Safety Principles.
The Victorian Child Safe Standards (2022)
- Organisations establish a culturally safe environment in which the diverse and unique identities and experiences of Aboriginal children and young people are respected and valued
- Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture
- Children and young people are empowered about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously
- Families and communities are informed, and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing
- Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice
- People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice
- Processes for complaints and concerns are child focused
- Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training
- Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed
- Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is regularly reviewed and improved
- Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people
RESPONSIBILITIES AND CHILD SAFE CODE OF CONDUCT
The Child Safe Standards require organisations that provide services for children to have a Code of Conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children and young people.
The following Code of Conduct outlines appropriate standards of behaviour by workers towards children and young people. It aims to protect children and young people and reduce opportunities for abuse or harm to occur. It helps staff by guiding them on how to best support children and young people and how to avoid or better manage difficult situations.
All paid and unpaid workers of Banyule Community Health, including employees, volunteers, students, contractors, and board members, are expected to act in accordance with all relevant legislation, this Code of Conduct and Banyule Community Health’s policies.
Everyone is responsible for the safety and wellbeing of children and young people who are in physical or online contact with our organisation.
All workers will:
- adhere to the Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy and related procedures at all times
- take all reasonable steps to protect children from abuse and harm
- treat everyone with respect
- work to prevent discrimination and actively promote the participation and inclusion of all children and young people with whom we have contact, recognising in particular:
- the cultural safety of Aboriginal children and young people
- the cultural safety of children and young people from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds
- the safety of children and young people with a disability
- the safety of transgender, gender and sexually diverse, non-binary, intersex children and young people
- model appropriate adult behaviour and maintain appropriate personal and professional boundaries
- listen to children and young people and respond to their needs and concerns appropriately, particularly if they communicate (verbally or non-verbally) that they do not feel safe or well
- report all suspected or disclosed child harm or abuse as required by Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 and ensure any child criminal matters are referred to Victoria Police
- work with children in an open and transparent way-and ensure other adults always know about the work you are doing with a child
- encourage children to “have a say” and participate in matters that are important to them
- share information with other authorised agencies to identify and manage child safety risk
- contribute to Banyule Community Health’s policies, discussions, learning and reviews about child safety and wellbeing, where appropriate
- maintain a current Working with Children’s Check (WCC) if directed by the organisation and notify Banyule Community Health writing within seven days of the date of receiving any WWC Exclusion.
All workers will NOT:
- seek to use children in any way to meet the needs of adults
- ignore or disregard any concerns, suspicions or disclosures of child abuse or harm
- use discriminatory or oppressive behaviour or language with children, including engaging in rough physical games
- discriminate based on age, gender, race, culture, religion, disability, vulnerability, sexuality or other protected attributes under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
- initiate unnecessary physical contact with children or do things of a personal nature that children can do for themselves, such as toileting or changing clothes
- develop ‘special’ relationships with specific children or show favouritism by providing gifts or inappropriate attention
- exchange any personal contact details with a child, including a telephone number, email address or social network identity
- have unauthorised contact with children and young people in person, online or by phone
- arrange personal contact, including online contact, with children they are working with for a purpose unrelated to Banyule Community Health’s activities.
- disclose personal or sensitive information about a child, including images of a child, unless the child and their parent or legal guardian consent or unless they are required to do so by Banyule Community Health’s policy and procedure on reporting.
- use inappropriate language in the presence of children or show or provide children with access to inappropriate images or material.
In addition to these responsibilities:
Chief Executive Officer is responsible for:
- oversight of the Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy and Procedure and the related Child Information Sharing Scheme Procedure
- driving and embedding the culture of Banyule Community Health being a child safe organisation
- ensuring risk assessment and other systems are in place to ensure safety of children on the premises of Banyule Community Health
- reporting allegations of abuse to the Commission for Children and Young People.
General Management Team are responsible for:
- awareness, planning and reporting in line with the Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy and Procedure and the Child Information Sharing Scheme Procedure
- ensuring child safe risks are identified, mitigated and reported
- investigation and follow up of incidents relating to children
- escalating issues to CEO
- ensuring the staff who report to you have completed training in child safety
- ensuring appropriate recruitment screening processes are used
Child Safe Liaison Officers are responsible for:
- acting as the first point of contact for consultation of child safety concerns or allegations of abuse within Banyule Community Health
- championing child safety and promoting an organisational culture that values and respects children
- providing informed advice and guidance to other staff on organisational processes to support child safety.
- Assist alleged victims and their families to access counselling and support services.
- Provide support to affected staff through the organisation’s Employee Assistance Program.
Reporting obligations for West Heidelberg Community Legal Service staff workers in relation to sexual offences against a child.
All adults must report a reasonable belief that a sexual offence against a child has been committed. The Crimes Act was amended by the Crimes Amendment (Protection of Children) Act 2014 (Vic), to establish a new offence for failing to disclose sexual offences committed against children under 16 years of age. However, lawyers are exempt from this to the extent that the obligation to report is not contravened if the information on which the report would be based is privileged.
Similarly, information that is privileged is generally exempt from disclosure obligations under the FVISS and CISS, and from reporting obligations under the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act (Vic) 2005.
Not all information that lawyers obtain in the course of practice is privileged. A determination of whether or not information is privileged would need to be made by the lawyer and their legal supervisor. The Legal Supervisor for the WHLS is the Principal Lawyer.