Wendy’s Music School is committed to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. We recognise the importance of, and a responsibility for, ensuring the teaching community is a safe, supportive and enriching environment which respects and fosters the dignity and self-esteem of children and young people, and enables them to thrive in their learning and development.
This Code of Conduct aims to protect children and reduce any opportunities for child abuse or harm to occur. It also assists in understanding how to avoid or better manage risky behaviours and situations. It is intended to complement child protection legislation, Department policy, school policies and procedures and professional standards, codes or ethics as these apply to staff and other personnel.
Wendy’s Music School will support implementation and monitoring of the Code of Conduct, and will plan, implement and monitor arrangements to provide inclusive, safe and orderly schools and other learning environments.
Wendy’s Music School will also provide information and support to enable the Code of Conduct to operate effectively. All staff, contractors, volunteers and any other member of the learning community involved in child-related work are required to comply with the Code of Conduct by observing expectations for appropriate behaviour below. The Code of Conduct applies in all situations and in the use of digital technology and social media.
As staff, volunteers, contractors, and any other member of the learning community involved in child-related work individually, we are responsible for supporting and promoting the safety of children by:
• upholding the learning community’s statement of commitment to child safety and adhering to the learning community’s child safety policy at all times.
• taking reasonable steps to protect students from abuse
• treating students and families in the learning community with respect both within the learning environment and outside the learning environment as part of normal social and community activities.
• listening and responding to the views and concerns of students, particularly if they are telling you that they or another child has been abused or that they are worried about their safety/the safety of another child
promoting the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
promoting the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of students with culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds
promoting the safety, participation and empowerment of students with a disability • reporting any allegations of child abuse or other child safety concerns to the school’s leadership
understanding and complying with all reporting or disclosure obligations (including mandatory reporting) as they relate to protecting children from harm or abuse.
if child abuse is suspected, ensuring as quickly as possible that the student(s) are safe and protected from harm.
As staff, volunteers, contractors, and any other member of the learning community involved in child-related work we must not:
ignore or disregard any concerns, suspicions or disclosures of child abuse
develop a relationship with any student that could be seen as favouritism or amount to ‘grooming’ behaviour (for example, offering gifts)
exhibit behaviours with students which may be construed as unnecessarily physical (for example, inappropriate sitting on laps)
put students at risk of abuse (for example, by locking doors)
initiate unnecessary physical contact with students or do things of a personal nature that a child can do for themselves, such as using the toilet or changing their clothes
engage in open discussions of a mature or adult nature with or in the presence of students
use inappropriate language in the presence of students
express personal views on cultures, race or sexuality in the presence of students
exhibit behaviours or engage in activities with students which may be interpreted as abusive and not justified by the educational, therapeutic, or service delivery context
ignore behaviours by other adults towards students when they appear to be overly familiar or inappropriate
discuss content of an intimate nature or use sexual innuendo with students, except where it occurs relevantly in the context of parental guidance, delivering the education curriculum or a therapeutic setting
treat a child unfavourably because of their disability, age, gender, race, culture, vulnerability, sexuality or ethnicity
communicate directly with a student through personal or private contact channels (including by social media, email, instant messaging, texting etc) except where that communication is reasonable in all the circumstances, related to learning or extra-curricular activities or where there is a safety concern or other urgent matter
photograph or video a child in a learning environment except in accordance with school policy or with parent/guardian permission (whichever applies) or where required for duty of care purposes
in the learning environment or at other events where students are present, consume alcohol or take illicit drugs under any circumstances.
MANDATORY REPORTING POLICY
The Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic) (CYFA) requires that mandatory reporters must make a report to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Child Protection when they believe that a child (aged under 17) is in need of protection from significant harm from physical injury or sexual abuse. If a report is made by mandatory reporters in accordance with CYFA mandatory reporting obligations, an additional report to the Police under s 327 Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) may not be required unless you have further information. This policy must be read in conjunction with the Signs of Child Abuse Document.
Who Must Make a Mandatory Report?
Mandatory reporters are defined by the CYFA and in this instance include:
Reporting by Non-Mandated Staff
If you are not a Mandatory Reporter, you still have the option of making a report to DHHS under the CYFA if you believe on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection. The CYFA states that any person who believes on reasonable grounds that a child is at risk of harm should report their concerns to DHHS Child Protection. All teachers who work in the school system and have concerns that a student may be in need of protection, or may have been the victim of a sexual offence, should notify their relevant School Child Safety/Protection Program Officer as soon as possible to discuss their concerns. If the teacher operates outside of the school system has concerns that a student may be in need of protection, or may have been the victim of a sexual offence, they can seek advice from the VMTA or from DHHS. Also refer to The Failure to Disclose Offence Factsheet. A Mandatory Reporter must make a report even if their relevant School Child Safety/Protection Program Office or the VMTA does not share their belief that a report must be made.
What Gives Rise to a Mandatory Report?
A mandatory report must be made when you form a belief on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection where the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of:
physical injury or sexual abuse; and
the child’s parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type.
The concept of ‘reasonable grounds’ requires you to consider whether another person, when faced with similar information, would also draw the same conclusion. It does not mean reporters are required to be certain, but rather reporters should ensure their concerns are well founded and based on information from a reliable source. There may be reasonable grounds for forming such a belief if:
a child states they have been physically or sexually abused;
a child states that they know someone who has been physically or sexually abused;
someone who knows the child states that the child has been physically or sexually abused;
a child shows signs of being physically or sexually abused;
the Teacher is aware of persistent family violence or parental substance misuse, psychiatric illness or intellectual disability that is impacting on a child’s safety, stability or development;
the Teacher observes signs of abuse, including non-accidental or unexplained injury, persistent neglect, poor care or lack of appropriate supervision; or
a child’s actions or behaviour may place them at risk of significant harm and the child’s parents are unwilling or unable to protect the child;
Grounds for belief include matters of which a person has become aware and any opinions based on those matters.
‘Significant’ means that which is sufficiently serious to warrant a response by a statutory authority irrespective of a family’s consent. What is ‘significant’ is not minor or trivial and may reasonably be expected to produce a substantial and demonstrably adverse impact on the child’s safety, welfare or wellbeing. Significant harm can result from a single act or omission or an accumulation of these.
Physical Injury or Sexual Abuse
To assist in identifying physical injury or sexual abuse, refer to the Signs of Child Abuse Document. Parents Have Not Protected, or Are Unlikely to Protect, the Child from Harm of That Type The meaning of this phrase is not defined by legislation, but some examples may assist. A parent who ‘has not protected, or is unlikely to protect that child from harm of that type’ includes a parent who wants to protect his or her child from harm, but lacks the means to. It also includes a parent who has the means to protect his or her child from harm, but does not want to. A parent may be rendered ‘unlikely to protect’ that child for many reasons. For example:
that parent does not, or refuses to recognise that harm is occurring;
that parent or child may be subject to domestic violence; or
that parent’s partner may be abusive or harmful to the child. ‘Parent’ includes:
the child’s father, the child’s mother
the spouse or domestic partner of the mother or father of the child
a person who has custody of the child
a person who is named as the father on the child’s birth certificate; a person who acknowledges that he is the father of the child by an instrument under the Status of Children Act 1974 (Vic); and
a person in respect of whom a court has made a declaration or a finding or order that the person is the father of the child.
What to Report and When
A report becomes mandatory as soon as is practicable after forming the belief. A report must include details of the belief, and the reasonable grounds of that belief. Additional reports must be made on each occasion where you become aware of any further reasonable grounds for the belief. Refer to the Victorian Department of Education’s Guide to Making a Report to Child Protection or Child FIRST (Child and Family Information, Referral and Support Team) for guidance on making a decision on whether to report.
How is a Report/Referral Made?
Whenever there are concerns that a child is in immediate danger the Police should be called on 000.
A report to DHHS Child Protection should be considered if the VMTA Member forms the view the child is in need of protection because:
the harm or risk of harm has a serious impact on the child’s immediate safety, stability or development;
the harm or risk of harm is persistent and entrenched and is likely to have a serious impact on the child’s safety, stability and development; or
the child’s parents cannot or will not protect the child from harm.
To report concerns about the immediate safety of a child within their family unit, call the 24 hour Child Protection Crisis Line 13 12 78. Concerns that require immediate attention should be made to the local or regional Human Services Child Protection office, or the After Hours Child Protection Emergency Services on 131 278.
What If I Don’t Have a Reasonable Belief?
If you don’t have a reasonable belief about a child, but still have concerns, you can refer the matter to the relevant School Child Safety/Protection Program Officer or seek advice from the VMTA. There is also the option to refer the matter to Child FIRST. A referral to Child FIRST should be considered if a teacher forms the view that the concerns have a low-to-moderate impact on the child and the immediate safety of the child is not compromised. A referral can be made when the following factors may affect a child: • significant parenting problems;
a family member’s physical or mental illness, substance abuse, disability or bereavement;
isolated or unsupported families; and
significant social or economic disadvantage.
What Happens After a Report/Referral is Made?
After receiving a report, DHHS Child Protection may seek further information, usually from professionals who may also be involved with the child or family, to determine whether further action is required. In most cases, DHHS Child Protection will inform the reporter of the outcome of the report. After receiving a referral, Child FIRST may consult an experienced community-based Child Protection practitioner in their assessment. The assessment may lead to the involvement of a local family services organisation. In most cases, Child FIRST will inform the referrer of the outcome of the referral. Child FIRST must report the matter to DHHS Child Protection if they form the view the child is in need of protection. Reports made to the Police will be dealt with in accordance with Police practice.
Date Sept 2020