In 2016 the Commission for Children and Young People was set up in Victoria to protect children. From 1st January 2017, organisations that provide services or facilities for children in Victoria are required to meet Child Safe Standards with a focus on building and maintaining a child safe environment.
This policy was written to demonstrate the strong commitment that Yarra Heights Dance Academy Pty Ltd (YHDA) has to child safety and to provide an outline of the policies and practices we have developed to keep children in our care safe from any harm and abuse. This policy was developed in collaboration with all our staff, the children who use our services and their parents. It applies to all staff, volunteers, children and individuals involved in our Academy.
COMMITMENT TO CHILD SAFETY
Yarra Heights Dance Academy Pty Ltd is committed to child safety.
We support, respect and protect all children. We aim to create an environment where children feel happy, safe and have fun whilst learning. The welfare of children in our care is our priority and we have a zero tolerance to child abuse.
CHILDREN’S RIGHTS TO SAFETY AND PARTICIPATION
YHDA staff and volunteers empower and encourage children to express their views, especially about matters that directly affect them. We listen to their suggestions and respect what they have to say.
We teach children about what they can do if they feel unsafe. We listen to and act on any concerns children, or their parents, raise with us.
YHDA value diversity and do not tolerate any discriminatory practices.
To achieve this, we:
- Welcome and promote the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of Aboriginal children and their families
- Welcome and promote the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds and their families
- Welcome children with a disability and their families
- Seek appropriate staff of diverse ages and sexualities and from diverse cultural backgrounds.
RECRUITING AND TRAINING STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS
Our Academy aims to recruit staff and volunteers who are suitably skilled to work with children. We have robust recruitment practices and ongoing staff training to ensure that all staff and volunteers are aware of their obligations and support our culture of child safety.
To achieve this, we:
- include our commitment to Child Safety in advertisements
- interview and conduct referee checks on all permanent staff
- require Working with Children Checks for all staff and volunteers who engage in child related work
- provide support and supervision to our staff so they feel valued, respected and fairly treated
- train all of our staff on this Child Safety policy so that they understand how to behave around children
- supply all of our staff with a copy of our Code of Conduct which specifies the standards of conduct required when working with children
- supervise staff regularly to ensure that they understand our commitment to child safety as well as checking that their behavior towards children is safe and appropriate
- provide ongoing training in relation to our Child Safety Policy and Code of Conduct
REPORTING A CHILD SAFETY CONCERN OR COMPLAINT
Everyone has a responsibility to report an allegation of abuse if there is a reasonable belief that the incident took place. All allegations of safety concerns and child abuse will be treated seriously and thoroughly investigated in accordance with our child safety complaint procedures in a timely manner.
All children, families, staff and volunteers can raise a complaint or concern if they observe abuse or are a victim, or if they notice inappropriate behavior in the organisation. Louise Smith (Director) has been appointed as Child Safety Officer with the specific responsibility for investigating and responding to any complaints and concerns of child abuse in a professional and timely manner. Alternative points of contact to report complaints are Leticia Barlow (Principal Teacher) and Raquel Clark (Enrolments Officer) 0437 252 336.
All allegations of abuse and safety concerns are recorded using our incident reporting form. Updates are provided to children and families on progress of any investigations. If we are concerned for a child’s safety, we have a legal obligation to contact appropriate authorities.
We recognise the importance of a risk management approach to minimising the potential for child abuse or harm to occur and use this to guide our policy and procedures. In addition to general occupational health and safety risks, we proactively identify and manage risks of abuse to our children. These include risks posed by physical environments (e.g. doors that can lock), and online environments (e.g. staff contacting children via social media)
All personal information considered or recorded will respect the privacy of the individuals involved, whether they be staff, parents or children, unless there is a risk to someone’s safety. All records are securely stored. All related parties are entitled to know how information is recorded, what will be done with it and who will have access to it.
This policy will be reviewed every two years and following any significant incidents, that may occur.