All educators and staff at our service take seriously their responsibility to protect children from any type of abuse, and are aware of their roles and responsibilities regarding child protection. While we understand there are legislative obligations we must follow, we believe it is also our responsibility as educators to ensure the safety and well being of all children, and to provide the children at our service with the opportunity to develop to their full potential free from any form of harm and abuse. We will implement a child protection risk management strategy to ensure the safety of children is paramount and the service will always act quickly in the best interests of a child.
The Approved Provider, Nominated Supervisor, educators, staff members and volunteers will implement a Child Protection Risk Management Strategy to ensure the health, well being and safety of all children at the service.
Child Protection Risk Management Strategy
1. Code of Conduct
The service upholds a Code of Conduct in relation to employers, educators, volunteers, students, families and children to ensure the safety and well-being of children (See Educator and Management Policy).
2. Recruitment, Selection and Training Procedures include child protection principles.
The Nominated Supervisor is responsible for developing recruitment and professional development procedures that ensure all people working at the service do not pose a risk to children and understand how to respond to disclosures or suspicions of harm and abuse. (See Appendix A and Educator and Management Policy “Professional Development Requirements).
3. Procedures for Reporting and Documenting Abuse or Neglect
4. Procedures for Managing Breaches
5. Risk Management for High Risk Activity
6. Information for Families
Procedures for Reporting and Documenting Abuse or Neglect
What is Abuse?
Under the Children and Community Services Act 2004 a child is considered to be in need of protection in circumstances including:
the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, harm as a result of physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse or neglect, and the child's parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from that harm.
the child has suffered or is likely to suffer harm as the result of the child's parents being unable to provide or arrange adequate care or effective medical, therapeutic or other remedial care.
Harm means any detrimental effect of a significant nature on the child’s wellbeing.
Neglect means failure by a child’s parents to provide or arrange adequate care for the child or provide effective medical, therapeutic or remedial treatment.
Any person who has the care or control of a child is required under the legislation to take steps to prevent a child suffering harm as a result of physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse.
Teachers must report child sexual abuse. There is an on-line system for mandatory reporters called MRWeb at http://www.mandatoryreporting.dcp.wa.gov.au/Pages/Home.aspx and they may make a verbal report on 1800 708 704.
Educators and staff members who are concerned that a child is suffering any other form of abuse or neglect, or require further assistance in child protection matters should report the concern to the local District Office of the Department of Child Protection. The link is http://mandatoryreporting.dcp.wa.gov.au/Pages/DCP_District_Offices.aspx
Educators and staff members must have a reasonable belief (objective basis) that a child is, is at risk of or has been harmed based on:
- First hand observation of the child or family
- What the child, parent or other person has disclosed
- What can reasonably be inferred based on observation, professional training and/ or experience.
The Nominated Supervisor, educators, staff members and volunteers must:
be able to recognise indicators of abuse (see Appendix B).
take anything a child says seriously and follow up their concerns.
allow children to be part of decision-making processes where appropriate.
understand they must report to Child Protection on 1800 708 704 (available 24 hours/7 days a week) if they believe on reasonable grounds a child has, is or is likely to suffer sexual abuse. Written reports must also be provided and theses can be submitted online at http://www.mandatoryreporting.dcp.wa.gov.au/Pages/Home.aspx
understand they must report any other form of abuse or neglect to the local District Office of the Department of Child Protection.
Educators, staff members and volunteers should make the report with the assistance or support of the Nominated Supervisor.
contact the police on 000 if there is an immediate danger to a child and intervene immediately if it is safe to do so.
connect families with referral agencies where concerns of abuse or neglect do not require reports to Child Protection. Refer to the local District Office of the Department of Child Protection for advice. Family consent will be sought before making referrals.
promote the welfare, safety and well-being of children at the service.
prepare accurate records to assist investigations of abuse or suspected abuse by Child Protection or the Police or dealings with referral agencies. Accurate records record exactly what happened, was thought to have happened or potentially could happen.
understand that allegations of harm against them are treated in the same way as allegations of harm against other people (see “Allegations against Service Personnel”).
Allegations against Service Personnel
Allegations of abuse or suspected abuse against educators, staff members, volunteers, the Nominated Supervisor or Approved Provider are treated in the same way as allegations against other people. Reports will be made to Child Protection where a child is being harmed by a person at the Service. Educators will make the report with the assistance or support of the Nominated Supervisor. If the Supervisor is involved in the harm then the Approved Provider or most senior educator will assist in notifying Child Protection.
The Nominated Supervisor:
will complete an Incident, Injury, Trauma and Illness Record and notify the Regulatory Authority within 24 hours of making the report to Child Protection.
will provide appropriate support for any educator or staff member who has an allegation made against them.
will protect the identity of educators/staff members against whom unsubstantiated complaints have been made will be protected.
will review the person’s duties, and if they continue to interact with children, ensure they are appropriately supervised at all times.
may seek legal advice about restricting that person’s work activities.
Information for Families
Our Child Protection Risk Management Strategy
Creating safe and supportive service environments for children is everyone‘s business. Our service is committed to ensuring children are kept safe from harm. We will initiate and maintain ongoing planning and commitment to a safe and supportive environment so children:
- feel safe and protected from harm
- help plan activities and make decisions
- are consulted and respected
- have their best interests considered and upheld.
We have a written child protection risk management strategy to protect the children in our service from harm, and to ensure we have a safe and supportive environment for children by identifying and minimising risks.
The child protection risk management strategy consists of:
a code of conduct for interacting with children.
procedures for recruiting, selecting, training and managing paid employees and volunteers, including screening procedures through working with children checks.
procedures for handling disclosures or suspicions of harm, including reporting guidelines
procedures for managing breaches of the strategy
risk management plans for high-risk activities and special events
strategies for communication and support.
As a parent/carer it is important for you to understand the policies and procedures that form the child protection risk management strategy.
Educating Children about Protective Behaviour
We aim to teach children:
- about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and appropriate and inappropriate contact in a manner suitable to their age and level of understanding
- that they have a right to feel safe at all times.
- to say ‘no‘ to anything that makes them feel unsafe
- the difference between ‘fun’ scared that is appropriate risk taking and dangerous scared that is not ok.
- to use their own skills to feel safe.
- to recognise signs that they do not feel safe and need to be alert and think clearly.
- that there is no secret too awful, no story too terrible, that they can‘t share with someone they trust .
- that educators are available for them if they have any concerns.
- to tell educators of any suspicious activities or people.
- to recognise and express their feelings verbally and non-verbally.
- that they can choose to change the way they are feeling.
Our service believes that:
- children are capable of the same range of emotions as adults.
- children’s emotions are real and need to be accepted by adults.
- a response given to a child from an adult in a child’s early stages of emotional development can be hugely positive or detrimental depending on the adult’s reaction.
- children are very in touch with their bodies’ reactions to their emotions.
- children who retain, enhance and better understand their body’s response to an emotion are more able to foresee the outcome out a situation and avoid them or ask for help.
Indicators of Harm
There are many indicators of harm to children. Behavioural or physical signs which assist in recognising harm to children are known as indicators. The following is a guide only. One indicator on its own may not imply abuse or neglect. However a single indicator can be as important as the presence of several indicators. Each indicator needs to be considered in the context of other indicators and the child’s circumstances. A child's behaviour is likely to be affected if he/she is under stress. There can be many causes of stress and it is important to find out specifically what is causing the stress. Abuse and neglect can be single incidents or ongoing, and may be intentional or unintentional.
Physical abuse occurs when a child is severely and/or persistently hurt or injured by an adult or a child's caregiver. It may also be the result of putting a child at risk of being injured. Some examples are:
- hitting, shaking, punching
- burning and scolding
- excessive physical punishment or discipline
- attempted suffocation
- shaking a baby
Possible signs of physical abuse are:
- broken bones or unexplained bruises, burns, welts
- the child is unable to explain an injury or the explanation is vague
- dehydration or poisoning
- the child is unusually frightened of a parent or caregiver
- arms and legs are covered by clothing in warm weather
- when parents delay getting medical assistance for their child’s injury
- brain damage through shaking or hitting.
Sexual abuse occurs when a child is exposed to, or involved in, sexual activity that is inappropriate to the child’s age and developmental level. It includes circumstances where the child has less power than another individual involved, is exploited or where the child has been bribed, threatened, or coerced. It also includes situations where there is a significant difference between the developmental or maturity level of the child and another individual involved.
Some examples are:
- letting a child watch or read pornography
- allowing a child to watch sexual acts
- fondling the child’s genitals
- having oral sex with a child
- vaginal or anal penetration
- using the internet to find a child for sexual exploitation.
Possible signs of sexual abuse include when a child:
- acts in a sexualised way that is inappropriate to his/her age
- creates stories, poems or artwork about abuse
- has pain, bleeding or swelling in his/her genital area
- starts doing things they have grown out of such as crying a lot, bed wetting or soiling, clinging to caregiver
- has nightmares or sudden unexplained fears
- has a sexually transmitted infection or is pregnant.
Emotional abuse occurs when an adult harms a child’s development by repeatedly treating and speaking to a child in ways that damage the child’s ability to feel and express their feelings. Some examples are:
- constantly putting a child down
- humiliating or shaming a child
- not showing love, support or guidance
- continually ignoring or rejecting the child
- exposing the child to family and domestic violence
- threatening abuse or bullying a child
- threats to harm loved ones, property or pets.
Possible signs of emotional abuse include when a child:
- is very shy, fearful or afraid of doing something wrong
- displays extremes of behaviour for example from being very aggressive to very passive
- is not able to feel joy or happiness
- is often anxious or distressed
- feels worthless about life and themselves
- has delayed emotional development.
Psychological abuse is repeatedly treating and speaking to a child in ways that damage the child’s perceptions, memory, self esteem, moral development and intelligence. Some examples are:
- constantly belittling, shaming and humiliating a child
- calling the child names to minimise their self-worth
- threatening a child
- keeping a child isolated from other individuals or friends
- constantly ignoring a child
- encouraging a child to act inappropriately.
Possible signs of psychological abuse include when a child:
- feels worthless, unloved, unwanted
- feels dumb
- has difficulties remembering or recognising information
- has difficulties paying attention
- has difficulty knowing what actions are right or wrong
- is highly anxious.
Neglect is when children do not receive adequate food or shelter, medical treatment, supervision, care or nurturance to such an extent that their development is damaged or they are injured. Neglect may be acute, episodic or chronic. Some examples are:
- leaving a child alone without appropriate supervision
- not ensuring the child attends school, or not enrolling the child at school
- infection because of poor hygiene or lack of medication
- not giving a child affection or emotional support
- not getting medical help when required.
Signs of neglect in children include:
- untreated sores, severe nappy rash
- bad body odour, matted hair, dirty skin
- being involved in serious accidents
- being hungry and stealing food
- often being tired, late for school or not attending school
- feeling bad about themselves
- when a baby does not meet physical and development milestones without there being underlying medical reasons.