Child Safety

All students enrolled at St. Francis Xavier Primary School have the right to feel safe and be safe.

All students enrolled at St. Francis Xavier Primary School have the right to feel safe and be safe. The wellbeing of children in our care will always be our first priority and we do not and will not tolerate child abuse. We aim to create a child-safe and child-friendly environment where children are free to enjoy life to the full without any concern for their safety. There is particular attention paid to the most vulnerable children, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, and children with a disability.

Our commitment to our students

  • We commit to the safety and wellbeing of all children and young people enrolled in our school.
  • We commit to providing children and young people with positive and nurturing experiences.
  • We commit to listening to children and young people and empowering them by taking their views seriously, and addressing any concerns that they raise with us.
  • We commit to taking action to ensure that children and young people are protected from abuse or harm.
  • We commit to teaching children and young people the necessary skills and knowledge to understand and maintain their personal safety and wellbeing.
  • We commit to seeking input and feedback from students regarding the creation of a safe school environment.

Our commitment to parents and carers

  • We commit to communicating honestly and openly with parents and carers about the wellbeing and safety of their children.
  • We commit to engaging with, and listening to, the views of parents and carers about our child-safety practice, policies and procedures.
  • We commit to transparency in our decision-making with parents and carers where it will not compromise the safety of children or young people.
  • We commit to acknowledging the cultural diversity of students and families, and being sensitive to how this may impact on student safety issues.
  •  We commit to continuously reviewing and improving our systems to protect children from abuse.

Our commitment to our school staff (school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy)

  • We commit to providing all St. Francis Xavier Primary School staff with the necessary support to enable them to fulfil their roles. This will include regular and appropriate learning opportunities.
  • We commit to providing regular opportunities to clarify and confirm policy and procedures in relation to child safety and young people’s protection and wellbeing. This will include annual training in the principles and intent of the Child Safety Policy and Child Safety Code of Conduct, and staff responsibilities to report concerns.
  • We commit to listening to all concerns voiced by St. Francis Xavier Primary School staff, clergy, volunteers, and contractors about keeping children and young people safe from harm.
  • We commit to providing opportunities for St. Francis Xavier Primary School employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy to receive formal debriefing and counselling arising from incidents of the abuse of a child or young person.

1. Responsibilities and Organisational Arrangements

Everyone employed or volunteering at St. Francis Xavier Primary School has a responsibility to understand the important and specific role he/she plays individually and collectively to ensure that the wellbeing and safety of all students is at the forefront of all they do and every decision they make. (CECV Commitment Statement to Child Safety)

The school has allocated roles and responsibilities for child safety as follows:

1.1         Guide to Responsibilities of School Leadership

The principal, the school governing authority and school leaders at St. Francis Xavier Primary School recognise their particular responsibility to ensure the development of preventative and proactive strategies that promote a culture of openness, awareness of and shared responsibility for child safety.

Responsibilities include:

  • creating an environment for children and young people to be safe and to feel safe
  • upholding high principles and standards for all staff, clergy, volunteers, and contractors
  • promoting models of behaviour between adults and children and young people based on mutual respect and consideration
  • ensuring thorough and rigorous practices are applied in the recruitment, screening and ongoing professional learning of staff
  • ensuring that school personnel have regular and appropriate learning to develop their knowledge of, openness to and ability to address child safety matters
  • providing regular opportunities to clarify and confirm legislative obligations, policy and procedures in relation to child and young people’s protection and wellbeing
  • ensuring the school meets the specific requirements of the Victorian Child Safe Standards as set out in Ministerial Order No. 870.

1.2         Guide to Responsibilities of School Staff

Responsibilities of school staff (school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy) include:

  • treating children and young people with dignity and respect, acting with propriety, providing a duty of care, and protecting children and young people in their care
  • following the legislative and internal school processes in the course of their work, if they form a reasonable belief that a child or young person has been or is being abused or neglected
  • providing a physically and psychologically safe environment where the wellbeing of children and young people is nurtured
  • undertaking regular training and education in order to understand their individual responsibilities in relation to child safety and the wellbeing of children and young people
  • assisting children and young people to develop positive, responsible and caring attitudes and behaviours which recognise the rights of all people to be safe and free from abuse
  • following the school’s Child Safety Code of Conduct.

1.3         Organisational Arrangements

St. Francis Xavier Primary School enacts this commitment to child safety through:

  • appointment of a Child Protection Officer
  • a budget allocation to enable regular training and education in order to understand their individual responsibilities in relation to child safety and the wellbeing of children and young people
  • participation in the diocesan child protection network
  • use of school website and newsletter to remind and to keep parents and carers informed of child safety commitments, procedures and arrangements

2. Expectation of our Staff – Child Safe Code of Conduct

At St. Francis Xavier Primary School, we expect school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy to proactively ensure the safety of students at all times and to take appropriate action if there are concerns about the safety of any child at the school. All school staff must remain familiar with the relevant laws, the code of conduct, and policies and procedures in relation to child protection and to comply with all requirements.

We have developed a Child Safety Code of Conduct, (Appendix A) which recognises the critical role that school staff play in protecting the students in our care and establishes clear expectations of school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy for appropriate behaviour with children in order to safeguard them against abuse and or neglect.

Our Code also protects school staff through clarification of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

3. Student Safety Participation

At St. Francis Xavier Primary School, we actively encourage all students to openly express their views and feel comfortable about giving voice to the things that are important to them.

Through the Keeping Safe curriculum, we teach students about what they can do if they feel unsafe and enable them to understand, identify, discuss and report on child safety. We listen to and act on any concerns students, or their parents or carers, raise with us.

4. Reporting and Responding

Our school records any child safety complaints, disclosures or breaches of the Child Safety Code of Conduct, and stores the records in accordance with security and privacy requirements. Our school complies with legal obligations that relate to managing the risk of child abuse under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.), the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.) and the recommendations of the Betrayal of Trust report.

Child protection reporting obligations fall under separate pieces of legislation with differing reporting requirements.

Catholic schools in the Diocese of Ballarat follow the joint protocols outlined in the “Identifying & Responding to All Forms of Abuse in Victorian Schools” resource and associated processes, published jointly by the Department of Education and Training and the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria.

This resource is located on a new Department of Education and Training’s child safety site, PROTECT. It is available at http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/health/protect/Pages/default.aspx

All teachers, other staff, parish priests, and governing authorities of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Ballarat must understand and abide by the professional, moral and legal obligations to implement child protection and child safety policies, protocols and practices outlined in the PROTECT resource.

It sets out the actions required under the relevant legislation when there is a reasonable belief that a child at our school is in need of protection or a criminal offence has been committed, and provides guidance and procedures on how to make a report.

This approach assists staff, volunteers and families to:

  • identify the indicators of a child or young person who may be in need of protection
  • understand how a ‘reasonable belief’ is formed
  • make a report of a child or young person who may be in need of protection
  • comply with mandatory reporting obligations under child protection law and their legal obligations relating to criminal child abuse and grooming under criminal law.

Local Arrangements for Reporting Concerns

Our school has established internal processes to ensure that appropriate action is taken to respond to concerns about the wellbeing and/or safety of a student.

Our school’s Child Protection Officer plays an essential role in ensuring that St. Francis Xavier Primary School is a child safe school.

Staff and volunteers with concerns about the wellbeing and/or safety of a student can seek advice from the Child Protection Officer and/or the Principal, who can assist you to make a report. If your concern is about the Principal’s conduct, you can speak to the School Governing Authority or to the Catholic Education Office Ballarat Child Protection Officer.

Parents and Carers with concerns about the wellbeing and/or safety of a student, can speak to the Child Protection Officer or the Principal, who can assist you to decide if it is necessary to make a report. If your concern is about the Principal’s conduct, you can speak to the School Governing Authority or to the Catholic Education Office Ballarat Child Protection Officer.

Our complaints and disclosure processes are outlined and detailed in the St. Francis Xavier Primary School’s Complaints and Grievance Policy.

5. Screening and Recruitment of School Staff

St. Francis Xavier Primary School will apply thorough and rigorous screening processes in the recruitment of employees and volunteers involved in child-connected work. Our commitment to child safety and our screening requirements are included in all advertisements for such employee, contractor and volunteer positions, and all applicants are provided with copies of the school’s Child Safety Code of Conduct and this Child Safety Policy.

When recruiting and selecting employees, contractors and volunteers involved in child-connected work, St. Francis Xavier Primary School follows the CECV Guidelines on the Employment of Staff in Catholic Schools, which includes a checklist aligned with the Child Safe Standards. This resource is available at: http://www.cecv.catholic.edu.au/Industrial-Relations/Policies-and-Guidelines/Child-Safety.

We make all reasonable efforts to:

  • confirm the applicant’s Working with Children Check and National Police Check status and/or professional registration (as relevant)
  • obtain proof of personal identity and any professional or other qualifications
  • verify the applicant’s history of work involving children
  • obtain references that address the applicant’s suitability for the job and working with children.

We have processes for monitoring and assessing the continuing suitability of school staff to work with children, including regular reviews of the status of Working with Children Checks and staff professional registration requirements such as Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) registration.

6. Child Safety – Education and Training for School Staff

St. Francis Xavier Primary School provides employees, volunteers and clergy with regular and appropriate opportunities to develop their knowledge of, openness to and ability to address child safety matters. This includes induction, ongoing training and professional learning to ensure that everyone understands their professional and legal obligations and responsibilities, and the procedures for reporting suspicion of child abuse and neglect.

Staff Induction specifically includes:

  • familiarisation with this Child Safety Policy and its many implications
  • familiarisation with and a signed commitment to the St. Francis Xavier Primary School Child Safety Code of Conduct
  • training about child protection reporting obligations, protocols for receiving/recording complaints
  • training and familiarisation around all the school’s policies, codes, practices, and procedures governing child safety and child-connected work
  • understanding of supervision arrangements that are in place for all staff who engage in child-connected work

Staff Professional Learning provides opportunities for staff (and where appropriate, volunteers) to:

  • maintain, develop and improve skills and capabilities around child safety, including relevant legislative requirements
  • develop understanding of the risk of harm to children; the different types of harm; and how to identify grooming and abuse
  • understand and build confidence around their reporting obligations
  • complete the annual online mandatory reporting module

6. Risk Management

At St. Francis Xavier Primary School we are committed to proactively and systematically identifying and assessing risks to student safety across our whole school environment, and reducing or eliminating (where possible) all potential sources of harm. We document, implement, monitor and periodically review our risk management strategies for child safety and ensure that the strategies change as needed and as new risks arise.

We will enact this commitment through:

  • Child safety as a standing item on staff meeting agenda
  • Periodic review of the Child Safety Risk Register
  • Completing a risk assessment of all new activities

8. Related Legislation

  • Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.)
  • Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic.)
  • Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic.)
  • Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic.)
  • Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)
  • Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.) – including 2015 updates of offences

9. Breach of Policy

Where an employee is suspected of breaching any obligation, duty or responsibility within this Policy, St. Francis Xavier Primary School may start the process under clause 13 of the Victorian Catholic Education Multi Enterprise Agreement 2013 (VCEMEA) for managing employment concerns. This may result in disciplinary consequences.

Where the principal is suspected of breaching any obligation, duty or responsibility within this policy, the concerned party is advised to contact the School Governing Authority. Relevant notification should also be made to the Director of Catholic Education, Diocese of Ballarat.

Where any other member of the school community is suspected of breaching any obligation, duty or responsibility within this policy, the Principal is to make the necessary reports or to seek advice from the Catholic Education Office Ballarat.

10. References

Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd (CECV) 2016, Commitment Statement to Child Safety: A safe and nurturing culture for all children and young people in Catholic schools.

Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd (CECV) 2013, Victorian Catholic Education Multi Enterprise Agreement 2013, CECV.

Safe Schools Hub 2014, National Safe Schools Framework Glossary, Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

State of Victoria 2016, Child Safe Standards – Managing the Risk of Child Abuse in Schools: Ministerial Order No. 870, Education & Training Reform Act 2006, Victorian Government Gazette No. S2.

Victorian Government Department of Justice 2016, Betrayal of Trust Implementation.