The MS Society SA & NT (including Multiple Solutions) is committed towards building and maintaining environments where children and young people are protected, respected, valued, heard, and encouraged to reach their individual potential. Our commitment to create child safe environment is underpinned by the “National Principles for Child Safe Organisations” endorsed by the Commonwealth, and all state and territory governments.
The National principles are:
This scope of this policy includes all board members, management, contractors, volunteers, and consultants who work with children and/or have access to their records. All personnel shall be obliged to abide by this policy and assist in creating and maintaining a child safe environment at all times.
The Society will communicate this policy via regular information sessions with staff and volunteers, and it will also be available on the organisation’s website for easy access to children and their families.
The Society values and respects choices and views of children and young people accessing our services. Children and young people shall be involved in making decisions that affect them. Any concerns or opinions raised by the children, young people, their carers, or families shall be listened to and acted upon. They shall be made aware about the organisation’s complaints and feedback management processes.
All members of the governing body, management, staff, volunteers, and contractors must adhere to the Society’s Code of Conduct which specifies standards of care when dealing and interacting with children and young people.
They shall not:
Any person can make a complaint to the Society about the breach of this Code of Conduct. The Society shall investigate the breach in line with the organisation’s Feedback and Complaint procedure which may lead to disciplinary action against the concerned staff member and possible dismissal.
The Society has Employment Screening and Clearance Policy which complies with the requirements under the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016. The policy requires all employees and volunteers working with children to undergo relevant child-related employment screening checks including Working with Children Checks before appointment.
The Society fosters a supportive environment which encourages everyone to work towards continuous improvement and accountability.
The Society has processes in place to supervise, train and support employees and volunteers to understand their mandatory reporting obligations and their responsibilities to create a child safe environment.
Staff Induction program
All employee and volunteer induction programs shall include orientation of the Society’s Child Safe Environment Policy, code of conduct, risk management strategy and mandatory reporting.
All new staff and volunteers will receive a copy of the organisation’s Child Safe policy, Code of Conduct and Feedback and Complaints procedure, and will be guided through the application of these policies and procedures during their induction program.
Training and Development
The Society shall offer continuous development opportunities, training, and refresher training, around child safety topics to the employees and also provide support in making mandatory notifications where required. ‘Safe Environments: Through Their Eyes’ training will be organised every 3 years for all prescribed positions and all staff members will have access to web-based resources about issues concerning child safety and wellbeing.
The Society shall ensure children and young people are kept safe from harm and risk of harm. All employees and volunteers working with children shall be responsible for reporting a reasonable belief that a child or young person has been harmed or is at risk of harm.
Prescribed positions within the organisation shall be trained and made aware about their legal obligation to report a reasonable belief that a child or young person has been harmed or is at risk of harm through Child Abuse Report Line (CARL) on 13 14 78 as soon as practicable or if at immediate risk, report to South Australia Police on 000.
Any failure to report a reasonable suspicion that a child has or is being harmed or is at risk of harm is in breach of the Child Safe Environments Policy and may result in disciplinary action being initiated against the concerned employee/volunteer.
The Society takes seriously all concerns, complaints, and allegations of harm against any child or young person accessing our services. Each complaint is handled in line with the organisation’s feedback and complaint procedure defined in the Staff Operations Handbook for relevant business units.
Mandatory reporting obligations
All prescribed positions within the Society have a legal obligation to notify CARL as soon as practicable if they suspect on reasonable grounds that a child is or may be at risk of harm.
The Society encourages voluntary reporting of suspected harm or risk of harm to children. All members of the Society shall be supported and encouraged to report the reasonable belief that a child or young person is or may be at risk of harm regardless of whether they are legally obligated to.
Child safety risks shall be included in the organisation’s risk management policy and processes. This includes risks in physical and online environments relevant to the services provided by the Society, people in contact with children, and any specific vulnerabilities of the children.
All staff dealing with children shall endeavour to reduce the risk of harm to children and identify ways to promote child protective factors in the context of the organisation.
The Society shall review this policy regularly or after the occurrence of a critical incident where a child or young person has experienced harm through involvement in the Society. Policy will also be reviewed upon Identification of any added risks for children or young people, or any concerns raised regarding their safety or welfare.
Any changes made to the policy will be approved by the Board.