Child Safe Standard 5: Procedures for responding and reporting suspected child abuse
Glengala Primary School has a designated staff member in the role of Student Welfare Officer with responsibility for supporting the school and students to create a safe and engaging school environment. The Student Welfare Officer will ensure that all children know who to talk to if they are worried or are feeling unsafe, and make sure that they are comfortable to do so. Children will be encouraged and supported in their efforts to protect themselves and others. Glengala Primary School will proactively engage with children in an age-appropriate manner about abuse, to create a safe environment for them.
At Glengala Primary School the safety of the child and the risk of harm are the primary considerations, with due regard for confidentiality and fairness to the person against whom the allegation is made. While the standards apply specifically to child abuse, our school strongly promotes children’s health, mental health and wellbeing in a broader sense. For Glengala Primary School’s community to comprehend the purpose of the Child Safe Standards, it is pertinent that we understand the forms of child abuse.
Forms of child abuse:
- Unintentional/accidental harm
- Physical child abuse
- Child sexual abuse
- Serious emotional or psychological abuse
- Cultural abuse
- Serious Neglect
- Family Violence
Managing a disclosure
At Glengala Primary School we feel it is very important to validate a child’s disclosure. This means listening to the child, taking them seriously, and responding and acting on the disclosure by implementing our school’s reporting procedures. (Please see Glengala Primary School’s internal reporting process on the last page of this document, and refer to Glengala Primary School’s Child Safety Policy (2016) and the Department of Education ‘Identifying and Responding to All Forms of Abuse in Victorian Schools’ Guidelines’).
If a parent/carer says their child has been abused in the school or raises a concern, the same process will be followed as well as assisting the child and their family to access appropriate support for the child, such as counselling. If a parent/carer says their child has been abused in the school or raises a concern:
- explain that Glengala PS has processes to ensure all abuse allegations are taken very seriously
- ask about the wellbeing of the child
At Glengala Primary School we record any child safety complaints, disclosures or breaches of the Code of Conduct and store the records in accordance with security and privacy requirements. Glengala Primary School keeps a record of action taken, any internal investigations and any reports made to statutory authorities or professional bodies.
What concerns should be reported?
Concerns about the safety and wellbeing of children can range from an uncomfortable feeling through to a direct observation or a disclosure by a child. Staff and the community are encouraged to speak to someone and be proactive rather than wait until it is too late. Staff have been made aware of their duty of care to children and of their legal responsibilities. Examples of child safety concerns include:
- concerns about a physical environment that may pose a risk to children (this includes health and hygiene issues)
- inappropriate or special relationships developing between any individual involved in this school and children
- breaches of the Staff Code of Conduct, particularly if they are persistent
- feelings of discomfort about interactions between a child any individual involved in this school suspicions or beliefs that children are at risk of harm
- observations of concerning changes in behavior
- children’s disclosures of abuse or harm, which must be reported to Child Protection or the police
Concerns that are to be reported to the police
- Physical or sexual abuse of children is a crime and must be reported to the police
- If a child is in imminent or immediate danger, 000 is called immediately.
Reporting concerns to Child Protection
Reports to Child Protection should be made if the School believes, on reasonable grounds, that a child is in need of protection. Child Protection is part of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. It provides child-centred, family-focused services to protect children and young people from significant harm caused by abuse or neglect within the family. It also aims to ensure that children and young people receive services to deal with the impact of abuse and neglect on their wellbeing and development. It is the Child Protection practitioner’s job to investigate significant harm.
How to make a report
Reports of child abuse should be made directly to the regional Child Protection Office as soon as possible. The phone number is 1300 664 977 or 13 12 78 for after-hours notifications.
Legal responsibilities to report child abuse.
While the child safe standards focus on organisations such as our school, every adult who reasonably believes that a child has been abused, whether in their school or not, has an obligation to report that belief to authorities. While failure to disclose only covers child sexual abuse, all adults should report other forms of child abuse to authorities. Failure to disclose does not change mandatory reporting responsibilities.
Doctors, nurses, midwives, teachers and school principals, police, youth workers, social workers and psychologists are mandatory reporters under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005. If they believe on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection from physical injury or sexual abuse they must report to Child Protection. As long as a report is made in good faith, the report is not unprofessional conduct or a breach of professional ethics and the reporter cannot be held legally liable. The Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 provides confidentiality for reporters, and prevents the disclosure of the name or any information likely to lead to the identification of a person who has made a report in accordance with the legislation, except in very specific circumstances.
This document is scheduled to be reviewed every two years, or earlier in response to a significant incident if it occurs.
Date of next scheduled review: October 2018