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Multiple Solutions’ Child Safe Environment Policy

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:

  • Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance, and culture.
  • Children and young people are informed 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 to respond to 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 national child safe principles is regularly reviewed and improved.
  • Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.

Scope of the Policy

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.

Communication

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.

Participation of children and young people

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.

Code of conduct

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:

  • respect that all children accessing the Society’s services have a right to feel and be safe.
  • treat all children with dignity, equality, and respect.
  • be aware and responsive to the particular needs and vulnerabilities of children (such as age, language barriers, developmental capabilities, disability, or mental health).
  • ensure clear age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate explanations are provided to children about the consultation and allow them for questions prior to or during the examination or support provision.
  • seek the consent of the child and/or their parents or guardians (where applicable), particularly where treatment requires physical contact.
  • be alert to children who may be at risk of harm and report it to the Child Abuse Report Line (13 14 78).
  • encourage children to ‘have a say’ on issues that impact on their care or support.
  • ensure that children and their families know their rights and how to access the complaints procedures available to them.
  • ensure a physically and socially safe environment for children that are free of any identifiable hazards.

They shall not:

  • discriminate against any child because of age, gender, cultural background, religion, vulnerability, or sexuality.
  • develop any relationships with children outside of the professional relationship.
  • take part in any unnecessary physical contact with a child.
  • take a child to an employee’s home under any circumstances.
  • go to a child’s home without documented line manager’s approval.
  • provide any personal contact details to a child.
  • behave or communicate in a way that could be interpreted as being sexually suggestive even as a joke, nor allow a child to communicate or behave in such a way. The child must be immediately told that their behaviour or comment is unacceptable and inappropriate.

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.

Recruitment

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.

Supervision, training and support for employees and volunteers

The Society fosters a supportive environment which encourages everyone to work towards continuous improvement and accountability.

Supervision

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.

Reporting and responding to harm or risk of harm

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.

Reporting and responding to complaints and feedback

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.

Voluntary reporting

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.

Risk management

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.

Review

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.

Definitions

  • Child or young person means a person under 18 years of age.
  • Harm means any significant detrimental effect on a child’s physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing. Section 17 of the Safety Act defines ‘harm’ to mean physical or psychological harm (whether caused by an act or omission), including harm caused by sexual, physical, mental, or emotional abuse or neglect.
  • Prescribed position is a position which:
    • a person works with children
    • during the ordinary course of their duties, it is reasonably foreseeable that a person will work with children.
*Above definitions are from Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017, Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (SA) and Child Safety Regulations 2019.

 

 

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