Child Protection and Safety Policy

1 Introduction

Melbourne Indigenous Transition School has developed the following Child Protection and Safety Policy. This policy is an overarching document that provides key elements of our approach to protecting children from abuse. The policy forms the foundation of the School’s procedures, practices, decision-making processes and ultimately the School’s culture with respect to child safety. It is designed to be published on our public website as well as communicated through other mediums such as newsletters, our annual report and in induction and welcome packs for Board of Directors, staff and Volunteers.

The School’s Child Protection and Safety Policy has been approved and endorsed by the School’s Board of Directors and is regularly reviewed by the Board.

1.1 Objectives

This policy provides the framework for: • the development of work systems, practices, policies and procedures that promote child protection within the School; • the creation of a positive and robust child protection culture; • the promotion and open discussion of child protection issues within the School; and • compliance with all laws, regulations and standards relevant to child protection in Victoria.

2 Statement of Commitment to Child Safety

Child abuse includes sexual offences, grooming, physical violence, serious emotional or psychological harm, serious neglect and a child’s exposure to family violence. Melbourne Indigenous Transition School is committed to the protection of all children from all forms of child abuse and demonstrates this commitment through the implementation of a comprehensive Child Protection Program designed to keep children safe.

We want children to be safe, happy and empowered. We support and respect all children, as well as our staff and volunteers.

As a school for Indigenous students, we are committed to the cultural safety of Aboriginal children, the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds. We are also committed to providing a safe environment for children with disabilities.

At Melbourne Indigenous Transition School we have a zero tolerance for child abuse and are committed to acting in children’s best interests and keeping them safe from harm. The School regards its child protection responsibilities with the utmost importance and as such, is committed to providing the necessary resources to ensure compliance with all relevant child protection laws and regulations and maintain a child safe culture.

3 Child Safe Values & Principles

The School’s commitment to child safety is based on the following overarching principles that guide the development and regular review of our work systems, practices, policies and procedures to protect children from abuse.

1. All children have the right to be safe.

  1. The welfare and best interests of the child are paramount.
  2. The views of the child and a child’s privacy must be respected.
  3. Clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children are established in our Child Safety Code of Conduct and Staff and Student Professional Boundaries Policy.
  4. The safety of children is dependent upon the existence of a child safe culture.
  5. Child safety awareness is promoted and openly discussed within our School community.
  6. Procedures are in place to screen all staff, Direct Contact Volunteers**, Third Party Contractors and External Education Providers who have direct contact with children.
  7. Child safety and protection is everyone's responsibility.
  8. Child protection training is mandatory for all Board of Directors, staff and Direct Contact Volunteers.
  9. Procedures for responding to alleged or suspected incidents of child abuse are simple and accessible for all members of the School community.
  10. Children from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds have the right to special care and support including those who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
  11. Children who have any kind of disability have the right to special care and support.

**Direct Contact Volunteers are those volunteers who are involved in providing support, guidance and supervision directly to students and could potentially have direct contact with students during the normal course of providing the volunteer service.

The Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic) defines 'direct contact' as any contact between a person and a child (aged under 18) that involves:

• physical contact; or • face to face contact; or • contact by post or other written communication; or • contact by telephone or other oral communication; or • contact by email or other electronic communication. Examples of Direct Contact Volunteer activities may include volunteers involved in School camps and excursions, coaching sporting teams or assisting in learning activities.

4 Our Children

This policy is intended to empower children who are vital and active participants in our organisation. We involve them when making decisions, especially about matters that directly affect them. We listen to their views and respect what they have to say.

We promote diversity and tolerance in our organisation, and people from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds are welcome. In particular we: • promote the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of Aboriginal children; • promote the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds; and • ensure that children with a disability are safe and can participate equally

5 Child Protection Program

Melbourne Indigenous Transition School is committed to the effective implementation of our Child Protection Program and ensuring that it is appropriately reviewed and updated. We adopt a risk management approach by identifying key risk indicators and assessing child safety risks based on a range of factors including the nature of our School's activities, physical and online environments and the characteristics of the student body.

Our Child Protection Program relates to all aspects of protecting children from abuse and establishes work systems, practices, policies and procedures to protect children from abuse. It includes: • clear information as to what constitutes child abuse and associated key risk indicators; • clear procedures for responding to and reporting allegations of child abuse; • strategies to support, encourage and enable staff, Volunteers, Third Party Contractors, External Education Providers, parents and students to understand, identify, discuss and report child protection matters; • procedures for recruiting and screening Board of Directors, staff and Direct Contact Volunteers; • procedures for reporting reportable conduct and/or misconduct; • pastoral care strategies designed to empower students and keep them safe; • policies with respect to cultural diversity and students with disabilities; • a child protection training program; • information regarding the steps to take after a disclosure of abuse to protect, support and assist children; • guidelines with respect to record keeping and confidentiality; • policies to ensure compliance with all relevant laws, regulations and standards (including the Victorian Child Safe Standards); and • a system for continuous review and improvement.

As a part of Melbourne Indigenous Transition School’s induction process, all staff and Direct Contact Volunteers are required to complete a selection of training modules on the content of our Child Protection Program.

All staff, Direct Contact Volunteers and Board of Directors are provided with additional, ongoing child protection training at least annually.

Staff, Volunteers, Third Party Contractors and External Education Providers are supported and supervised by the School’s Child Safety Officers to ensure that they are compliant with the School’s approach to child protection.

6 Responsibilities

Child protection is everyone’s responsibility. At Melbourne Indigenous Transition School all directors of the Board of Directors and staff, as well as Volunteers, have a shared responsibility for contributing to the safety and protection of children. Specific responsibilities include:

6.1 Board of Directors

Each director of the Board of Directors is required to ensure that appropriate resources are made available to allow the School’s Child Protection and Safety Policy and the Child Protection Program to be effectively implemented within the School and are responsible for holding the Executive Director and Leadership team accountable for effective implementation.

6.2 The Executive Director

The Executive Director is responsible, and will be accountable for, taking all practical measures to ensure that this Child Protection and Safety Policy and the School’s Child Protection Program are implemented effectively and that a strong and sustainable child protection culture is maintained within the School.

6.3 The Leadership Team

The School's Leadership team consists of the Executive Director, Head of School, Head of Boarding and Development Manager. The Leadership team is ultimately responsible for receiving and managing allegations or disclosures of child abuse, responding appropriately to children who make or are affected by allegations of child abuse, ensuring compliance with this Policy and, where necessary, managing an alternative procedure where a member of the Leadership team cannot perform his or her role.

6.4 The School’s Child Safety Officers

A number of senior staff members are nominated as the School's Child Safety Officers. Our Child Safety Officers receive additional specialised training with respect to child protection issues. They are the first point of contact for raising child protection concerns within the School. They are also responsible for championing child protection within the School and assisting in coordinating responses to child protection incidents

6.5 Staff Members

All staff are required to be familiar with the content of our Child Protection and Safety Policy and our Child Protection Program and their legal obligations with respect to the reporting of child abuse. It is each individual’s responsibility to be aware of key risk indicators of child abuse, to be observant, and to raise any concerns they may have relating to child abuse with one of the School’s Child Safety Officers.

6.6 Direct Contact Volunteers

All Direct Contact Volunteers, as defined in this policy, are required to be familiar with the content of our Child Protection and Safety Policy, our Child Protection Program and their legal obligations with respect to the reporting of child abuse. It is each individual’s responsibility to be aware of key risk indicators of child abuse, to be observant, and to raise any concerns they may have relating to child abuse with one of the School’s Child Safety Officers.

6.7 Indirect Contact Volunteers

Indirect Contact Volunteers (or 'Indirect Volunteers') are those volunteers who are involved in providing support and services whilst not directly assisting a specific group of students. All Indirect Volunteers are responsible for contributing to the safety and protection of children in the School environment. All Indirect Volunteers are required by the School to be familiar with our Child Protection and Safety Policy and our Child Safety Code of Conduct. Examples of Indirect Contact Volunteer activities may include assisting with School administrative functions.

6.8 Third Party Contractors

All Third Party Contractors (service providers) engaged by the School are responsible for contributing to the safety and protection of children in the School environment.

Third Party Contractors include, for example, maintenance and building personnel, consultants, casual teachers, tutors, sports coaches and school cleaners.

This also includes music teachers and other extra-curricular teachers and instructors who are engaged by students and their families directly, rather than the School, but have an agreement with the School to use the School’s facilities.

All service providers engaged by the School are required by the School to be familiar with our Child Protection and Safety Policy and our Child Protection Program.

The School may include this requirement in the written agreement between it and the service provider.

6.9 Direct Contact Contractors

Direct Contact Contractors are: • those who have direct contact** with students during the normal course of their work; • those who may be in a position to establish a relationship of trust with a student notwithstanding that unsupervised access to students would be rare (for example full-time maintenance personnel); and • any contractors whom a school is legally required to screen.

**The Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic) defines ' direct contact' as any contact between a person and a child (aged under 18) that involves: • physical contact; or • face to face contact; or • contact by post or other written communication; or • contact by telephone or other oral communication; or • contact by email or other electronic communication.

6.10 Indirect Contact Contractors

Indirect Contact Contractors are those contractors who do not meet the definition of “Direct Contact Contractor”. Refer to Third Party Contractors’ Responsibilities for more information.

6.11 External Education Providers

An External Education Provider is any organisation that the School has arranged to deliver a specified course of study that is part of the curriculum, to a student or students enrolled at the School.

The delivery of such a course may take place on School premises or elsewhere. All External Education Providers engaged by the School are responsible for contributing to the safety and protection of children in the School environment.

All External Education Providers engaged by the School are required by the School to be familiar with our Child Protection and Safety Policy and our Child Protection Program. Melbourne Indigenous Transition School may include this requirement in the written agreement between it and the External Education Provider.

6.12 Other Obligations Not Discharged

The roles and responsibilities in set out in this Policy do not displace or discharge any other obligations that arise (for example, mandatory reporting obligations) if a person reasonably believes that a child is at risk of child abuse.

7 Reporting Child Protection Concerns

Our Child Protection Program provides detailed guidance for directors of the Board of Directors, staff and Direct Contact Volunteers as to how to identify key risk indicators of child abuse and how to report child abuse concerns to one of our School's nominated Child Safety Officers. It also contains detailed procedures with respect to the reporting of child abuse incidents to relevant authorities.

Staff, Third Party Contractors, External Education Providers, Volunteers, students, parents/guardians and other community members who have concerns that a child may be subject to abuse or grooming are asked to contact the School's Senior Child Safety Officer, Edward Tudor, by phoning 0438 536 835 or emailing edward.tudor@mits.vic.edu.au

Communications will be treated confidentially on a “need to know basis”. Whenever there are concerns that a child is in immediate danger the Police should be called on 000.

8 Confidentiality & Privacy

All personal information considered or recorded will respect the privacy of the individuals involved, whether they be staff, volunteers, parents or children, unless there is a risk to someone’s safety. We have safeguards and practices in place to ensure any personal information is protected. Everyone is entitled to know how this information is recorded, what will be done with it, and who will have access to it. Personal information will always be treated in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

9 Policy & Program Review

Melbourne Indigenous Transition School is committed to the continuous improvement of our Child Protection Program. The Program is regularly reviewed for overall effectiveness and to ensure compliance with all child protection related laws, regulations and standards.