Child Safety

POLICY


  1. Introduction


At St Luke’s Primary School we unequivocally commit to hold the care, safety and wellbeing of children as a central and fundamental responsibility of our school. Our commitment is drawn from and inherent in the teaching and mission of Jesus Christ, with love, justice and the sanctity of each human person at the heart of the gospel (CECV Commitment Statement to Child Safety).


The person of each individual human being, in his or her material and spiritual needs, is at the heart of Christ’s teaching: that is why the promotion of the human person is the goal of the Catholic school (Congregation for Catholic Education 1997, n. 9).

Our vision statement here at St Luke’s Primary School is “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” It is because of our belief in the person and words of Jesus Christ that we place Him in the centre of the life of our Catholic school.  Therefore we are motivated to create a climate permeated with the Gospel spirit.


St Luke's School is committed to the development of the whole person. Through the assimilation of skills, knowledge, moral and social attitudes, each person is encouraged to take his/her place as a creative member of the community.


Our belief is that every person has an innate and special worth. Therefore, we wish to create at St Luke's School an atmosphere in which all who experience the community may grow in their own richness, fullness and integrity.  


Our administration works towards creating this atmosphere.  We believe this can be achieved in the knowledge of God's love for each of us, and by an increasing awareness of a response to His Presence in our lives.


"The Catholic school tries to create within its walls a climate in which the pupil's faith will gradually mature and enable him/her to assume the responsibility placed on him/her by Baptism."  (The Catholic School, The Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, P.38)


We see this Catholic School as a vital part of the Parish community, with the Parish Priest as the leader and the Principal as the administrator of the Parish school.  As Pastor of the Parish community, the Parish Priest is seen as an integral part of the education and growth in faith of the children in the Parish school.  The Principal and the school staff co-operate with and assist him in the fulfilment of this obligation through the Religious Education Program which is carried out in the school and which shall be in accord with Diocesan Policies and Guidelines.


Parents are the first and foremost educators of their children.  Christian values and attitudes are taught primarily in the home. Teachers by work and example can merely reinforce these values and attitudes.  The parents' privilege and responsibility to educate their children can be delegated in part, but never relinquished to the school.


We see the school community as an extension of the family.  Therefore, parents must be involved in and work cooperatively with the school if their children are to benefit from the Catholic Christian education.


The staff of this school understands that we share responsibility with the parents in awakening, nurturing and developing the child in his/her life of faith. This is achieved by embracing and communicating the teachings and heritage of the Catholic Church, bearing in mind the age and development of these primary school children.


It is desired that all members of our school community will work towards providing a happy and secure environment for all the children at St Luke's.


St Luke’s school values are Respect, Responsibility, Resilience, Empathy and Integrity. These are directly aligned with the ‘Australian Values’ and reflect our school vision, ‘I have come that you may have life and have it to the full’.


As a whole staff and with consultation with the school community, we collaboratively decided on our school values. Our five chosen values are reflective of the ‘Australian Values’. Three of our values; Integrity, Respect and Responsibility were explicitly extracted from the ‘Australian Values’. Our decision to include Empathy incorporates the ‘Australian Values’ Care and Compassion, Freedom and Understanding, Tolerance and Inclusion. Resilience implicates Doing your Best and Being Fair. Honesty and Trustworthiness are emphasised in our value of Empathy.


Our decision to include Empathy incorporates the ‘Australian Values’ of Care and Compassion, Freedom and Understanding, Tolerance and Inclusion. Our decision to include Resilience implicates bouncing back when things don’t go as planned. Resilience also encompasses a growth mindset which enables students to take on challenges and learn from them.


  1. Purpose of the Policy


The purpose of this policy is to demonstrate the strong commitment of St Luke’s Primary School to the care, safety and wellbeing of all students at our school. It provides an outline of the policies, procedures and strategies developed to keep students safe from harm, including all forms of abuse in our school environment, on campus, online and in other locations provided by the school.

This policy takes into account relevant legislative requirements within the State of Victoria, including the specific requirements of the Victorian Child Safe Standards as set out in Ministerial Order No. 870.

This policy applies to school staff, including school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy.

  1. Principles


Catholic schools have a moral, legal and mission-driven responsibility to create nurturing school environments where children are respected, their voices are heard and they are safe and feel safe (CECV Commitment Statement to Child Safety).


The following principles underpin our commitment to child safety at St Luke’s Primary School:

  • All students deserve, as a fundamental right, safety and protection from all forms of abuse and neglect.


  • Our school works in partnership with families and the community to ensure that they are engaged in decision-making processes, particularly those that have an impact on child safety and protection.


  • All students have the right to a thorough and systematic education in all aspects of personal safety, in partnership with their parents/guardians/caregivers.


  • All adults in our school, including teaching and non-teaching staff, clergy, volunteers, and contractors, have a responsibility to care for children and young people, to positively promote their wellbeing and to protect them from any kind of harm or abuse.


  • The policies, guidelines and codes of conduct for the care, wellbeing and protection of students are based on honest, respectful and trusting relationships between adults and children and young people.


  • Policies and practices demonstrate compliance with legislative requirements and cooperation with the Church, governments, the police and human services agencies.


  • All persons involved in situations where harm is suspected or disclosed must be treated with sensitivity, dignity and respect.


  • Staff, clergy, volunteers, contractors, parents and students should feel free to raise concerns about child safety, knowing these will be taken seriously by school leadership.


  • Appropriate confidentiality will be maintained, with information being provided to those who have a right or a need to be informed, either legally or pastorally.


  1. Definitions used in this Policy


Child: A child or a young person enrolled as a student at the school.


Child abuse includes:

(a) any act committed against a child involving:

    1. a sexual offence

    2. an offence under section 49B(2) of the Crimes Act 1958 (grooming)

(b) the infliction, on a child, of:

  1. physical violence

  2. serious emotional or psychological harm

(c) serious neglect of a child. (Ministerial Order No. 870)

Child safety encompasses matters related to protecting all children from child abuse, managing the risk of child abuse, providing support to a child at risk of child abuse, and responding to incidents or allegations of child abuse. (Ministerial Order No. 870)


Child neglect: The failure by a parent or caregiver to provide a child (where they are in a position to do so) with the conditions that are culturally accepted as being essential for their physical and emotional development and wellbeing. (Safe Schools Hub)


Child physical abuse: Generally, child physical abuse refers to the non-accidental use of physical force against a child that results in harm to the child. Physically abusive behaviours include shoving, hitting, slapping, shaking, throwing, punching, kicking, biting, burning, strangling and poisoning. The fabrication or induction of an illness by a parent or carer (previously known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy) is also considered physically abusive behaviour. (Safe Schools Hub)

Child protection: Statutory services designed to protect children who are at risk of serious harm. (Safe Schools Hub)

Child sexual abuse: Any sexual activity between a child under the age of consent (16) and an adult or older person (i.e. a person five or more years older than the victim) is child sexual abuse.

Child sexual abuse can also be:

  • any sexual behaviour between a child and an adult in a position of power or authority over them (e.g. a teacher); the age of consent laws do not apply in such instances due to the strong imbalance of power that exists between young people and authority figures, as well as the breaching of both personal and public trust that occurs when professional boundaries are violated

  • any sexual behaviour between a child and an adult family member, regardless of issues of consent, equality or coercion

  • sexual activity between peers that is non-consensual or involves the use of power or coercion

  • non-consensual sexual activity between minors (e.g. a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old), or any sexual behaviour between a child and another child or adolescent who, due to their age or stage of development, is in a position of power, trust or responsibility over the victim. Sexual activity between adolescents at a similar developmental level is not considered abuse. (Safe Schools Hub)

Mandatory Reporting: The legal requirement to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect is known as mandatory reporting. Mandated persons include teachers, nurses, police, psychologists, psychiatrists and medical practitioners. (Safe Schools Hub)

Reasonable Belief: When staff are concerned about the safety and wellbeing of a child or young person, they must assess that concern to determine if a report should be made to the relevant agency. This process of considering all relevant information and observations is known as forming a ‘reasonable belief’.  A ‘reasonable belief’ or a ‘belief on reasonable grounds’ is not the same as having proof but is more than mere rumour or speculation. A ‘reasonable belief’ is formed if a reasonable person in the same position would have formed the belief on the same grounds.

School environment means any physical or virtual place made available or authorised by the school governing authority for use by a child during or outside school hours, including:

  1. a campus of the school

  2. online school environments (including email and intranet systems)

  3. other locations provided by the school for a child’s use (including, without limitation, locations used for school camps, sporting events, excursions, competitions, and other events). (Ministerial Order No. 870)

School staff means an individual working in a school environment who is:

  1. directly engaged or employed by a school governing authority

  2. a volunteer or a contracted service provider (whether or not a body corporate or any other person is an intermediary)

  3. a minister of religion. (Ministerial Order No. 870)


  1. Policy Commitments

All students enrolled at St Luke’s Primary School have the right to feel safe and be safe. The wellbeing of children in our       care will always be our first priority and we do not and will not tolerate child abuse. We aim to create a child-safe and child-friendly environment where children are free to enjoy life to the full without any concern for their safety. There is particular attention paid to the most vulnerable children, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, and children with a disability.

Our commitment to our students

  1. We commit to the safety and wellbeing of all children and young people enrolled in our school.

  2. We commit to providing children and young people with positive and nurturing experiences.

  3. We commit to listening to children and young people and empowering them by taking their views seriously, and addressing any concerns that they raise with us.

  4. We commit to taking action to ensure that children and young people are protected from abuse or harm.

  5. We commit to teaching children and young people the necessary skills and knowledge to understand and maintain their personal safety and wellbeing.

  6. We commit to seeking input and feedback from students regarding the creation of a safe school environment.


Our commitment to parents and carers

  1. We commit to communicating honestly and openly with parents and carers about the wellbeing and safety of their children.

  2. We commit to engaging with, and listening to, the views of parents and carers about our child-safety practice, policies and procedures.

  3. We commit to transparency in our decision-making with parents and carers where it will not compromise the safety of children or young people.

  4. We commit to acknowledging the cultural diversity of students and families and being sensitive to how this may impact on student safety issues.

  5. We commit to continuously reviewing and improving our systems to protect children from abuse.


Our commitment to our school staff (school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy)

  1. We commit to providing all St Luke’s Primary School staff with the necessary support to enable them to fulfil their roles. This will include regular and appropriate learning opportunities.

  2. We commit to providing regular opportunities to clarify and confirm policy and procedures in relation to child safety and young people’s protection and wellbeing. This will include annual training in the principles and intent of the Child Safety Policy and Child Safety Code of Conduct, and staff responsibilities to report concerns.

  3. We commit to listening to all concerns voiced by St Luke’s Primary School staff, clergy, volunteers, and contractors about keeping children and young people safe from harm.

  4. We commit to providing opportunities for St Luke’s Primary School school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy to receive formal debriefing and counselling arising from incidents of the abuse of a child or young person.

  1. Responsibilities and Organisational Arrangements


Everyone employed or volunteering at St Luke’s Primary School has a responsibility to understand the important and specific role he/she plays individually and collectively to ensure that the wellbeing and safety of all students is at the forefront of all they do and every decision they make. (CECV Commitment Statement to Child Safety)

The school has allocated roles and responsibilities for child safety as follows.

6.1 Guide to Responsibilities of School Leadership


The principal, the school governing authority and school leaders at St Luke’s Primary School recognise their particular responsibility to ensure the development of preventative and proactive strategies that promote a culture of openness, awareness of and shared responsibility for child safety. Responsibilities include:

  • creating an environment for children to be safe and to feel safe

  • upholding high principles and standards for all staff, clergy, volunteers, and contractors

  • promoting models of behaviour between adults and children based on mutual respect and consideration

  • ensuring thorough and rigorous practices are applied in the recruitment, screening and ongoing professional learning of staff

  • ensuring that school personnel have regular and appropriate learning to develop their knowledge of, openness to and ability to address child safety matters

  • providing regular opportunities to clarify and confirm legislative obligations, policy and procedures in relation to a child and young people’s protection and wellbeing

  • ensuring the school meets the specific requirements of the Victorian Child Safe Standards as set out in Ministerial Order No. 870.

In line with promoting a safe and supportive environment, St Luke’s school implements the Kidsmatter Framework which aims to prevent mental health issues.   The Kidsmatter Framework is based on the principles of developing respectful relationships, recognising the importance of partnerships between parents, carers and teachers, and supporting the role of schools and families through accessing health and community agencies as required.   

6.2 Guide to Responsibilities of School Staff

Responsibilities of the school staff (school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy) include:

  • treating children with dignity and respect, acting with propriety, providing a duty of care, and protecting children in their care

  • following the legislative and internal school processes in the course of their work, if they form a reasonable belief that a child has been or is being abused or neglected

  • providing a physically and psychologically safe environment where the wellbeing of children is nurtured

  • undertaking regular training and education in order to understand their individual responsibilities in relation to child safety and the wellbeing of children.

  • assisting children and young people to develop positive, responsible and caring attitudes and behaviours which recognise the rights of all people to be safe and free from abuse

  • following the school’s Child Safety Code of Conduct.

6.3 Organisational Arrangements


At St Luke’s Primary School any concerns made by staff, volunteers, parents or students in relation to the physical safety and/or emotional well being of a particular child are directed straight to our principal, Mrs Carrie Rodda.

  1. Expectation of our School Staff – Child Safety Code of Conduct  


At St Luke’s Primary School, we expect school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy to proactively ensure the safety of students at all times and to take appropriate action if there are concerns about the safety of any child at the school. All school staff must remain familiar with the relevant laws, the code of conduct, and policies and procedures in relation to child protection and to comply with all requirements. We have developed a Child Safety Code of Conduct, Behaviour Support Policy, which recognises the critical role that school staff play in protecting the students in our care and establishes clear expectations of school employees, volunteers, contractors and clergy for appropriate behaviour with children in order to safeguard them against abuse and or neglect.

Our Code also protects school staff through clarification of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

  1. Student Safety and Participation


At St Luke’s Primary School, we actively encourage all students to openly express their views and feel comfortable about giving voice to the things that are important to them. St Luke’s school aims to provide an environment where students feel safe, nurtured and supported.

We teach students about what they can do if they feel unsafe and enable them to understand, identify, discuss and report on child safety. We listen to and act on any concerns students, or their parents or carers, raise with us.

At St Luke’s school the Rights, Resilience and Respectful Relationships program is implemented. This is a Social and Emotional Learning program which promotes the health and wellbeing of young people and develops the personal skills to empower young people to act with resilience.  Students are also involved in Friendship Groups which are organised in vertical groupings. This provides an opportunity for students to develop relationships with students across the levels and widens students protective networks with teachers who they feel connected to.  The Friendship Group program embeds the understandings of St Luke’s School values.

At St Luke’s Primary School the students participate annually in online programs related to Bullying and Cyber Safety, in particular, e-Smart, Budd:e, POSTi and Hector’s World.


  1. Reporting and Responding


Our school records any child safety complaints, disclosures or breaches of the Child Safety Code of Conduct, and stores the records in accordance with security and privacy requirements. Our school complies with legal obligations that relate to managing the risk of child abuse under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.), the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.) and the recommendations of the Betrayal of Trust report.

Child protection reporting obligations fall under separate pieces of legislation with differing reporting requirements.

Our school’s Child Protection – Reporting Policy, updated on 22nd July, 2016 sets out the actions required under the relevant legislation when there is a reasonable belief that a child at our school is in need of protection or a criminal offence has been committed and provides guidance and procedures on how to make a report.

Our policy assists staff, volunteers and families to:

  • identify the indicators of a child or young person who may be in need of protection

  • understand how a ‘reasonable belief’ is formed

  • make a report of a child or young person who may be in need of protection

  • comply with mandatory reporting obligations under child protection law and their legal obligations relating to criminal child abuse and grooming under criminal law.

At St Luke’s Primary School any concerns made by staff, volunteers, parents or students in relation to the physical safety and/or emotional well being of a particular child are directed straight to the principal, Mrs Carrie Rodda.

Our school has established internal processes to ensure that appropriate action is taken to respond to concerns about the wellbeing and/or safety of a student.  In the situation of a student’s safety being deemed at risk a Care Team will be established which will be comprised of:

  • School Principal

  • Deputy Principal

  • Student Wellbeing Leader

  • Classroom Teacher

At St Luke’s Primary School all staff participate in an annual Mandatory Reporting online course run by the Department of Education and Training to ensure all staff are aware of the necessary steps to take when concerned about the safety and wellbeing of a student.

It is essential that staff members do not promise confidentiality to any student, in these or any other circumstances. To do so may place the staff member in a difficult situation regarding the best course of action to take to help the student. If a student asks for confidentiality, prior to or after disclosure of any sort, the best response is to indicate:

  • concern for the student’s safety or wellbeing,

  • the need to seek the advice of other persons who are able to help with the what might be the best way to get the student the help they need,

  • if the student refuses to discuss the issue with the staff member, and the staff member’s knowledge of the student leads them to be concerned for the wellbeing of that student, the staff member must contact the school principal immediately.

Our complaints and disclosure processes are outlined and detailed in the following policies and procedures:


  1. Screening and Recruitment of School Staff


St Luke’s Primary School will apply thorough and rigorous screening processes in the recruitment of employees and volunteers involved in child-connected work. Our commitment to child safety and our screening requirements are included in all advertisements for such employee, contractor and volunteer positions, and all applicants are provided with copies of the school’s Child Safety Code of Conduct and the Child Safety Policy.


  • confirm the applicants Working with Children Check and National Police Check status and/or professional registration (as relevant)

  • obtain proof of personal identity and any professional or other qualifications

  • verify the applicant’s history of work involving children

  • obtain references that address the applicant’s suitability for the job and working with children.


We have processes for monitoring and assessing the continuing suitability of school staff to work with children, including regular reviews of the status of Working with Children Checks and staff professional registration requirements such as Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) registration.


At St Luke’s all new staff are inducted into our school community as stated in the policy, Induction Policy.




  1. Child Safety – Education and Training for School Staff


St Luke’s Primary School provides employees, volunteers and clergy with regular and appropriate opportunities to develop their knowledge of, openness to and ability to address child safety matters. This includes induction, ongoing training and professional learning to ensure that everyone understands their professional and legal obligations and responsibilities and the procedures for reporting suspicion of child abuse and neglect.


  1. Risk Management


At St Luke’s Primary School we are committed to proactively and systematically identifying and assessing risks to student safety across our whole school environment, and reducing or eliminating (where possible) all potential sources of harm.

We document, implement, monitor and periodically review our risk management strategies for child safety and ensure

that the strategies change as needed and as new risks arise.


At St Luke’s we have a senior leadership team which consists of highly experienced staff who have worked within the school for many years. Any concerns of a student’s safety and/or well being are directed to the Leadership Team and dealt with accordingly. The circumstances may require the team to contact:

  • The child’s parents,

  • the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Child Protection

  • Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams (SOCIT), or

  • Child FIRST


  1. Relevant Legislation

  • Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.)

  • Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic.)

  • Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic.)

  • Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic.)

  • Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)

  • Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.) – Three new criminal offences have been introduced under this Act:

    1. Failure to disclose offence: Any adult who forms a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child under 16 has an obligation to report that information to police. Failure to disclose the information to the police is a criminal offence.

    2. Failure to protect offence: The offence will apply where there is a substantial risk that a child under the age of 16 under the care, supervision or authority of a relevant organisation will become a victim of a sexual offence committed by an adult associated with that organisation. A person in a position of authority in the organisation will commit the offence if they know of the risk of abuse and have the power or responsibility to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently fail to do so.

      1. Grooming offence: This offence targets predatory conduct designed to facilitate later sexual activity with a child. Grooming can be conducted in person or online, for example via interaction through social media, web forums and emails.


  1. Related Policies

14.1 Catholic Education Melbourne Policies


14.2 School Policies


  1. Breach of Policy


Where an employee is suspected of breaching any obligation, duty or responsibility within this Policy, St Luke’s Primary School may start the process under clause 13 of the Victorian Catholic Education Multi-Enterprise Agreement 2013 (VCEMEA) for managing employment concerns. This may result in disciplinary consequences.  


Where the principal is suspected of breaching any obligation, duty or responsibility within this policy, the concerned party is advised to contact the parish priest or the employer. Relevant notification should also be made to Catholic Education Melbourne (Office of Professional Conduct, Ethics and Investigation).

Where any other member of the school community is suspected of breaching any obligation, duty or responsibility within this policy, the school is to take appropriate action, including in accordance with: Grievance Policy, Child Protection – Reporting Obligations  and/or contact Catholic Education Melbourne (Office of Professional Conduct, Ethics and Investigation).

  1. Review of this Child Safety Policy

At St Luke’s Primary School we are committed to the continuous improvement of our child safety systems and practices. We intend this policy to be a dynamic document that will be regularly reviewed to ensure it is working in practice and updated to accommodate changes in legislation or circumstance.


We will maintain a history of updates to the policy.


History of Updates to Policy

Date

Comment (e.g. major review, minor review)

As listed on index

Policy Review Index


  1. References


Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd (CECV) 2016, Commitment Statement to Child Safety: A safe and nurturing culture for all children and young people in Catholic schools.


Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd (CECV) 2013, Victorian Catholic Education Multi Enterprise Agreement 2013, CECV.


Congregation for Catholic Education 1997, The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium, Vatican.


Safe Schools Hub 2014, National Safe Schools Framework Glossary, Australian Government Department of Education and Training.


State of Victoria 2016, Child Safe Standards – Managing the Risk of Child Abuse in Schools: Ministerial Order No. 870, Education & Training Reform Act 2006, Victorian Government Gazette No. S2.


Victorian Government Department of Justice 2016, Betrayal of Trust Implementation.

Department of Training and Learning- e-learning Mandatory Reporting http://elearn.com.au/det/protectingchildren/