WODONGA CATHOLIC PARISH
Child Safety Policy
This Child Safe Policy has been endorsed by the Wodonga Parish Pastoral Council and was approved by Rev Fr Pantaleon Amaya Jr. on 6 November 2019.
Our commitment to child safety
Our Parish is committed to child safety. All children who come to Wodonga Catholic Parish have a right to feel and be safe. The welfare of the children in our care will always be our first priority and we have a zero tolerance to child abuse. We aim to create a child safe and child friendly environment where children feel safe and feel part of our parish community.
Children’s rights to safety and participation
Wodonga Catholic Parish staff and volunteers encourage children to express their views. We listen to their suggestions, especially on matters that directly affect them. We actively encourage all children, who use our services, to ‘have a say’ about things that are important to them. We encourage parents to teach children what they can do if they feel unsafe. We listen to and act on concerns children, or their parents, rise with us.
We value diversity and inclusiveness in our Parish. To achieve this we welcome all and promote:
- The cultural safety, participation and empowerment of Aboriginal children and their families
- The cultural safety, participation and empowerment of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds and their families
- Participation of children with differing abilities together with their families.
Recruiting staff and volunteers
Wodonga Catholic Parish applies the best practice standards in the recruitment and screening of staff and volunteers. We require Working with Children Checks for relevant positions.
Code of Conduct
Wodonga Catholic Parish seeks to attract and retain the best staff and volunteers. We provide support and supervision so people feel valued, respected and fairly treated. We have developed a Code of Conduct to provide guidance to our staff and volunteers, all of whom receive training on the requirements of the Code.
Breach of Policy
Where a person is found to have breached any of his or her obligations under this policy disciplinary action may be taken. This may include the termination of his or her employment. If there is a reasonable belief that a criminal act has been committed, the concerned party is advised to contact Victoria Police.
Reporting a child safety concern or complaint
Our Parish takes all allegations seriously and has appointed Sonia La Motte-Schubert and Jacinta Bartlett to be the Child Safety Persons with specific responsibility for responding to any complaints made by staff, volunteers’ parents or children. You may contact Sonia on 0434-179-411 or the Parish Centre 6024-3366. Jacinta may be contacted on 0418-470-532
Reportable Conduct Scheme (RCS)
The Victorian Government has introduced the new RCS on 1st July 2017 to improve oversight of how organisations prevent and respond to allegations of child abuse. The RCS will not interfere with reporting obligations for Victoria Police or with Victorian Police investigations
The RCS applies to the following people associated with an organisation
- Office holders
- Ministers of religion
- Officers of a religious body
There are 5 types of “reportable conduct”
- Sexual offences committed against, with or in the presence of a child
- Sexual misconduct committed against, with or in the presence of a child
- Physical violence against, with or in the presence of a child
- Any behavior that causes significant emotional or psychological harm to a child
- Significant neglect of a child
When the “Head” of entity has been notified of an allegation they have a legal responsibility to report to the Commission for Children and young People (CCYP) within 3 business days and follow up with an investigation. The “Head” then has a responsibility to report to the CCYP with the outcome of the investigation within 30 calendar days.
We recognize the importance of a risk management approach to minimizing the potential for child abuse or harm to occur and use this to inform our policy, procedures and activity planning. In addition to general occupational health and safety risks, we proactively manage risks of abuse to our children.
- Children Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic)
- Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic)
- Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)
- Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)
Three new criminal offences have been introduced under this act:
a) ‘Failure to disclose’ offence
A new offence came into effect on 27 October 2014 for adults who fail to disclose child sexual abuse to police. The new offence applies to all adults, not just professionals who work with children.
Any adult who holds a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child in Victoria must report that belief to police, unless they have a reasonable excuse for not reporting.
For information about how the offence may affect the reporting obligations of funded organisations and Department of Health & Human Services staff, a fact sheet is available to download. http://www.justice.vic.gov.au/home/safer+communities/protecting+children+and+families/failure+to+disclose+offence
b) ‘Failure to protect’ offence
A new ‘failure to protect’ offence came into effect on 1 July 2015 that applies to people within organisations who knew of a risk of child sexual abuse by someone in the organisation and had the authority to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently failed to do so. A fact sheet is available to download from this page with more information about the offence. http://www.justice.vic.gov.au/home/safer+communities/protecting+children+and+families/failure+to+protect+offence
c) ‘Grooming offence’
A grooming offence is now in effect to target individuals who communicate with a child or their parents with the intent of committing child sexual abuse.
This policy will be reviewed every two years and following significant incidents if they occur. We undertake to seek views, comments and suggestions from children, parents, carers, staff and volunteers.
This next review of this policy is due on 3 November 2021.