1.    Purpose of this policy

 

  • EdSpace is committed to preventing harm to children through the reporting of child abuse and neglect under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.).

 

  • The mandatory reporting policy sets out the principles and framework governing the school’s behaviours and activities that enact the mandatory reporting requirements and which aims to keep all children safe from harm. The policy, together with the policy implementation documents listed in section 10, must be read and understood by all those connected to the school.

 

 

2.        Principles

 

  • The values and ethos as set out in the EdSpace mission statement form the foundation for the school’s child safe standards policies.

 

  • EdSpace, those that work in it and its wider community together have a duty of care to protect children from harm through abuse or neglect.

 

  • EdSpace is committed to implementing clear procedures for reporting and recording reports of suspected child abuse and grooming.

 

  • EdSpace will create a supportive culture in which children, staff, volunteers and families feel confident and comfortable in discussing any allegations of abuse, grooming or child safety concerns.

 

 

3.        Aims of the policy

 

  • To comply with the EdSpace reporting obligations under child protection law and criminal law and to fulfil its duty of care.

 

  • To enable EdSpace staff to protect the safety and wellbeing of students by being able to:

 

  1. identify indicators that a child or young person may be in need of protection
  2. make a report about a child or young person who may be in need of protection.

 

 

 

 

4.        Legal and regulatory basis for compliance

 

  • Duty of Care

 

  • Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.)

 

  • Crimes Act 1958 (amended) (Vic.).

 

 

5.        Key definitions

 

  • ‘Child Protection’ is the statutory child protection service provided by the Department of Human Services[1], which is able to intervene to protect children and young people at risk of significant harm.

 

  • ‘Child and Family Information, Referral and Support Teams’ (Child FIRST) is a Victorian Government initiative to provide support and help for vulnerable families, children and babies. Anyone may make a referral to Child First if they have a significant concern for a child’s wellbeing.

 

  • ‘Failure to Disclose’: in addition to mandatory reporting obligations under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.), the Crimes Act 1958 (amended) (Vic.) imposes a legal obligation upon all adults to report to Victoria Police [in addition to Child Protection[2]] where they form a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child.

 

  • ‘Failure to Protect’: The Crimes Act 1958 (amended) (Vic.) provides that people in positions of authority, such as principals, must take action to protect children where they know that a person associated with their organisation poses a substantial risk of sexually abusing children.

 

  • ‘Grooming’: Crimes Act 1958 (amended) (Vic.), under the 'Failure to Disclose' offence and duty of care, any person who suspects a child is being groomed by an adult must report their concerns to Victoria Police.

 

 

6.        Scope

 

  • The policy applies to members of the governing board, the principal, all school staff, volunteers, and contracted service providers working in the school environment.

 

  • The policy applies to allegations or disclosures of child abuse made by or in relation to a child, school staff, visitors, or other persons while connected to a school environment.

 

 

7.        Roles and responsibilities

 

  • ‘Mandated notifiers’ are legally required to report child physical and sexual abuse. Mandated notifiers are:

 

  1. registered principals and teachers (including pre-service and visiting teachers)
  2. registered medical practitioners and psychiatrists
  3. registered nurses including school nurses
  4. members of the police force.

 

It is mandatory for registered principals and registered teachers in Victoria to notify Child Protection if they form the belief on reasonable grounds that a child has been physically or sexually abused or if they form the belief that a child is in need of protection.

 

Non-mandated people (e.g. educational support staff, non-teaching staff), who believe on reasonable grounds, that a child is in need of protection, must report their concerns to Child Protection.

 

  • Any adult (i.e. all members of the school community) who forms a reasonable belief that an adult (over the age of 18) has committed a sexual offence (including grooming) against a child under 16 must report that information to Victoria police, unless the reporting adult has already made a report to Child Protection. This responsibility does not change mandatory reporting obligations (Failure to Disclose offence).

 

  • Any person in a position of authority[3] within or associated with the school (will include the chair of the governing board, board members, principal, senior staff and may also include residential house staff, business managers, religious leaders) has a specific duty to protect children against the risk of a sexual assault. If they know of a substantial risk another adult associated with the school may commit a sex offence against a child under 16 within the school’s care, they must take reasonable steps to remove or reduce the risk of child sexual assault and must report the matter to Victoria Police (Failure to Protect offence).

 

  • In addition to an employee’s legal responsibility to report concerns as set out above, all employees must also comply with the school’s internal reporting procedures.

 

 

8.        Links to other policies

 

8.1     Child Safe Standards Policy

 

8.2     Duty of Care

 

8.3     Student Wellbeing Policy

 

8.4     Training Policies

 

8.5     Risk Management Policy

 

8.6     Code of Conduct (Staff)

 

8.7     Privacy Policy

 

  • Record Management Policy (including Archiving Policy).

 

 

9.        Communication of the policy

 

9.1     EdSpace will make regular and frequent public statements to raise an awareness of the school community’s collective responsibility in reporting allegations of child abuse.

 

9.2     This policy and relevant policy implementation documents will be made publically available on the school’s website and from the school office.

 

9.3     EdSpace will put in place arrangements to ensure the school community (including applicants for jobs) is informed about the school’s child safe standards policies, procedures and allocated roles and responsibilities.

 

 

10.    Policy implementation documents

 

10.1   The documents setting out the strategies and actions required to implement this policy are:

 

  1. reporting flow chart, including mandatory reporting
  2. internal reporting procedures and flow chart
  3. Child Safe Standards reporting procedures
  4. Child Safe Standards checklist
  5. communication plan to inform the school community about the mandatory reporting policy and procedures, allocated roles and responsibilities
  6. detailed roles and responsibilities for ensuring reporting procedures are implemented, monitored and reviewed
  7. training policy to include training in the school’s reporting procedures
  8. training and guidance in recognising signs and indications of child abuse.

 

 

11.    Policy Review

 

  • The governing board will review the Mandatory Reporting Policy annually.

 

  • The governing board will require the principal to report on the implementation of the Mandatory Reporting Policy termly.

[1] http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/for-individuals/children,-families-and-young-people/child-protection (Accessed 22 July 2017)

[2] By law, if someone has already made a report to Child Protection, they are not required to make a second report to Victoria Police. However it is a Vic DET policy requirement that Victorian Government school staff report their concerns to both Child Protection and Victoria Police. This school policy should make the school’s requirements clear.

 

[3] Not just mandated reporters.