Policy updated on 1 April 2021
Policy Updated Policy Statement
In policy, practice and making decisions that affect the safety of children, Highway Foundation will ensure child safety is its paramount consideration. All children who are involved in any of the Highway Foundation’s activities, services, events or programs have a right to feel and be safe. The Highway Foundation is committed to providing safe environments where children are cared for, respected, nurtured and sustained.
We will do all in our power to safeguard children from all forms of abuse. Abuse thrives on secrecy. To prevent child abuse across the Highway Foundation, we are committed to developing and maintaining an open and aware culture and to providing the appropriate leadership and governance to support this culture.
The Highway Foundation commits itself to the creation and maintenance of a child-safe culture to ensure the care, protection and safety of all children engaging with the Highway Foundation.
The Highway Foundation clearly affirms its commitment to upholding the law. This includes reporting abuse to the appropriate authorities. Highway Foundation embraces the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations adopted by the Council of Australian Governments in 2019 (https://childsafe.humanrights.gov.au/).
The Preamble to the National Principles states that a child safe organisation is one that:
…creates a culture, adopts strategies and takes action to promote child well-being and prevent harm to children and young people. A child safe organisation consciously and systematically:
• creates an environment where children’s safety and wellbeing is the centre of thought, values and actions
• places emphasis on genuine engagement with, and valuing of children
• creates conditions that reduce the likelihood of harm to children and young people
• creates conditions that increase the likelihood of identifying any harm
• responds to any concerns, disclosures, allegations or suspicions
Highway Foundation also embraces the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
This Policy applies to all entities and individuals associated with Highway Foundation in Australia who engage in child related services or activities. Entities of the Highway Foundation include, but are not limited to: Highway sessions, programs, camps, workshops and events. It will be implemented by board members, employees, contractors and volunteers.
The Highway Foundation is guided in its operation by a set of policies in addition to this Policy, which include the Persons of Concern Policy, Professional Standards and Codes of Conduct for all staff.
Implementation across the Highway Foundation
The CEO and the Executive Team will be responsible ensuring the implementation of all our Child Safe Policies across the organisation.
Principles and actions for a Child Safe environment at Highway Foundation
1. Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture.
Highway Foundation commits wholeheartedly and publicly to being a child safe organisation. This commitment will influence our decision-making and guide our practice. Children’s voices will be listened to, and every adult who is working with children will be supported to act in the interests of children.
We commit to the following principles and actions:
1.1 In policy, practice and making decisions which affect the safety of children, Highway Foundation will ensure child safety is its paramount consideration.
1.2 Our leaders and our people will publicly commit to child safety, will model and champion child safe policies and practices and will make decisions that will support a child safe culture across our Highway Foundation.
1.3 Our governance arrangements will facilitate the implementation of child safe policies and practices and will set clear accountabilities.
1.4 We will document the standards of behaviour we expect from leaders, staff and volunteers and ensure our people accept individual and shared responsibility for the safety of children in contact with the Highway Foundation.
1.5 We will work to understand our risk areas and develop strategies which aim to prevent and mitigate risks to children and young people.
1.6 We will support our people to understand their obligations for information sharing and record keeping.
2. Children and young people are informed about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously
Highway Foundation acknowledges children’s rights and wants to ensure children know that they have a right to be and feel safe, and what to do about it if they don’t. We know this means providing information to children and young people and their families in a way that is easily understood and accessible, taking into account their age, culture and the context of our contact with them. We commit to the following principles and actions:
2.1 Highway Foundation will work to inform children, young people and their families with information about their rights, including to safety, information and participation.
2.2 In our interactions with and decision-making impacting on children and young people, we will recognise the importance of friendships and encourage support from peers in helping children feel safe and connected.
2.3 Where relevant to the setting or context, we will consider the need to ensure children have access to sexual abuse prevention information that is appropriate to their age and context.
2.4 We will ensure our staff and volunteers are familiar with the signs of abuse and grooming and are skilled to facilitate child-friendly ways for children to express their views and raise concerns.
3. Families and communities are informed and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing
Highway Foundation acknowledges that families have the primary responsibility for the upbringing of their children and that strong family, community and cultural connections create protective factors which can impact on a child’s vulnerability to abuse. We will include families in our ways of working and make space for all people to voice concerns in relation to the safety of children. We commit to the following principles and actions:
3.1 We will support the participation of families in decisions that affect their children, and recognise the need to facilitate culturally safe spaces and ways of working.
3.2 We will communicate openly with children and families about our child safe approach and make sure that information about it is accessible and available.
3.3 We will seek out input and feedback from children, families and communities as we develop and review our child safety policies and practices.
3.4 We will keep families and communities informed about our child safety approach, operations and governance.
4. Diversity is respected and equity is promoted
Highway Foundation wants to be a child-safe organisation, but also a child-friendly organisation, where we embrace and value diversity and provide safety for all people to realise their full potential, noting this is different for everyone. We commit to equitable treatment of all people regardless of age, abilities, gender or sexuality, or social, economic or cultural background. We commit to the following principles and actions:
4.1 Highway Foundation will promote the inclusion of all children, considering the diversity of their circumstances.
4.2 We will ensure that children and young people have access to information, supports and complaints processes that are accessible, easy to understand and appropriate to age and culture of the child.
4.3 We commit to equitable treatment of all people regardless of age, abilities, gender or sexuality, or social, economic or cultural background.
5. Our people are suitable for work with children and committed to values of child safety and wellbeing
Recruitment and screening of all people who work with children is a vital part of keeping children safe. We will be intentional with our people, exploring values, understanding motivations for working with children and ensuring ongoing training and supervision to maintain awareness and vigilance amongst our communities. We commit to the following principles and actions:
5.1 We will ensure that recruitment, checking of two referees and screening processes for all of our people include an emphasis on child safety and wellbeing.
5.1 All persons who need a working with children check will have a current check and including police checks.
5.2 Those working with children will receive an induction that emphasises child safe culture and sets out behavioural expectations in working with children, along with record-keeping, information sharing and reporting obligations.
5.3 Ongoing staff support, supervision and people management will include a focus on child safety and wellbeing.
6. Child-focused complaints processes
We acknowledge that to be effective, processes to raise concerns and complaints about the safety of children need to be known, simple and taken seriously. Highway Foundation processes will prioritise the safety and wellbeing of children in the way we manage and respond to complaints and concerns. We commit to the following principles and actions:
6.1 Highway Foundation will have accessible, child focused complaint handling processes which clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of leadership, staff and volunteers with approaches to dealing with different types of complaints; breaches of relevant policies – including codes of conduct; and obligations to protect and report.
6.2 Our complaint handling processes will be culturally appropriate, clear and easily understood by children and young people, and all of our people.
6.3 Complaints will be taken seriously and responded to promptly and thoroughly. Where a complaint of abuse of a child becomes known it will be immediately reported to the authorities, including police and other statutory authorities. We will immediately take the appropriate steps to assess and minimise any further risk or harm.
6.4 Highway Foundation mandates any person who is aware of, or suspects child abuse or harm to make a report to the authorities, including police and other statutory authorities. We will support relevant authorities’ investigations into any concerns about children and/or allegations of abuse or harm towards children. While investigations are being conducted we will ensure child protection measures
continue to be in place. In consultation with police and other authorities, and subject to their approval, we will conduct our own inquiries in order to identify opportunities for child safe practice improvements.
6.5 We will meet reporting, privacy and employment law obligations.
7. Our people are provided with ongoing education and training on child safety
Highway Foundation commits to keeping child safety high on our agenda and will provide initial and ongoing education and training on child safety to those who work with children. We know that this is critical to ongoing maintenance of a child safe environment at Highway Foundation and to our people maintaining contemporary knowledge which supports them to make good decisions, to maintain vigilance in recognizing the signs of abuse and to support children who have concerns. We commit to the following principles and actions:
7.1 Our people will be trained and supported to effectively implement our child safety and wellbeing policies.
7.2 Our people will be given information to recognise indicators of child harm.
7.3 Our people will have information on how to respond effectively to disclosures or concerns of abuse by a child or another person.
7.4 Our people will be given information about how to build safe environments for children and young people, including environments that are safe for people of different cultures.
8. Physical and online environments promote safety
Highway Foundation acknowledges that physical environments and online behaviour can impact the safety of children. We will be intentional in our assessment of risks and take steps to mitigate risk as much as possible by considering physical environments, evaluating high-risk activities and making online behavioural expectations of our people very clear. We commit to the following principles and actions:
8.1 Our people will identify and mitigate risks in our online and physical environments while facilitating a child’s right to privacy, access to information, social connections and learning opportunities.
8.2 Our people will understand their obligations in using our online environments.
8.3 Where activities involve children, we will assess risk from the type of activity, the physical environment and the organisational setting.
8.4 If outside parties are engaged to provide services to us (including temporary/agency staff, procurement), we will consider the child safety requirements in engaging outside parties.
9. Review and continuous improvement of policy, procedure and practice
Highway Foundation is committed to continuous improvement and will be intentional in its review of policy, procedure and practice. We will examine incidences and reports to identify systemic issues and take lessons from what we learn. We commit to the following principles and actions:
9.1 We will monitor the implementation of our child safe policies and procedures and conduct regular reviews of our child safe practices.
9.2 We will critically review all incidents and reports to identify causes and trends, manage risks, identify systemic issues and improve our child safe policies and practices.
9.3 We will communicate with our people and communities on the findings of relevant reviews.
10. Policies and procedures document child safety
Highway Foundation acknowledges that it is not enough to have an in-principle commitment to child safety, but that these commitments must be documented in policy and procedure so that there is clarity, accountability and shared understanding.
We commit to the following principles and actions:
10.1 Our policies and procedures will address all the child safe principles set out in this policy.
10.2 Our policies and procedures will be documented and easy to understand.
10.3 Development of policies and procedures will include stakeholder consultations.
10.4 Highway Foundation leaders will champion and model compliance with policies and procedures.
10.5 Our people will be supported to understand and implement, and consistently apply policies and procedures.
APPENDIX 1 – Definitions
‘Abuse’ refers to both adult to child abuse and child to child abuse. Abuse and neglect include but is not limited to:
Physical abuse – when a person purposely injures or threatens to injure a child or young person.
Emotional abuse – an attack on a child or young person’s self-esteem such as bullying, name calling, threatening, ridiculing, harassing, intimidating or isolating the child or young person.
Family violence – (for the purposes of this Policy) violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family (the family member), or causes the family member to be fearful; where a child sees or hears family violence or otherwise experiences the effects of family violence. When a family member, partner or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate another.
Sexual abuse – any sexual act or sexual threat imposed on a child.
Grooming – predatory conduct undertaken to prepare a child for sexual activity.
Neglect – where a child is harmed by the failure to provide the basic physical and emotional necessities.
‘Child’ refers to anyone under the age of 18 years.
‘Staff and volunteers’ or ‘our people’ refers to all relevant (according to the context in which it appears) persons, and may include, but not be limited to, board/ council members, employees, volunteers, parents, carers, and any other person with responsibility for the care of children.