Elements

Sydney Catholic Schools (‘SCS’) is a Child Safe Institution and is committed to ensuring the following elements form the foundation of its operations.  As an integral and integrated part of its mission and vision, SCS commits to ensuring that:
1. Child safety is embedded in SCS leadership, governance and culture.

DESCRIPTION

The Executive Director of Sydney Catholic Schools and the Senior Leadership Team consistently emphasise the importance of Child Safe communities. Operating in an open and transparent way SCS has incorporated internal and external audits of its system and processes. In addition, there is regular review of issues and reports to ensure that a culture of child safety is embedded across SCS.

INDICATORS

  • SCS publicly commits to child safety and leaders champion a child safe culture.
  • Child safety is a shared responsibility at all levels of SCS.
  • Governance arrangements facilitate the implementation of the child safe elements and accountabilities are set by SCS leaders, at all levels of SCS’ governance structures.
  • Risk management strategies focus on preventing, identifying and mitigating risks to children.
  • Staff and volunteers comply with a code of conduct that sets clear behavioural standards towards children.
  • Staff and volunteers understand their obligations on information sharing and record keeping.

SYDNEY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS:

1.1

commits to child safety as a core component of its vision and mission. In New Horizons, the strategic Plan for 2016-2018

1.2

publicly promotes child safety continuously throughout school communities and includes relevant resources across all SCS policies, procedures and guidelines outlined in Annexure A: Resources

1.3

promotes as paramount a commitment to the safety and wellbeing of students in the way SCS responds to concerns and complaints

1.4

integrates child safety into the SCS Safety Management System, Child Safe Schools resources and daily operational policies and procedures of SCS.

1.5

requires Leaders at all levels of SCS to undertake governance training and clearly defining responsibilities pertaining to child safety.

1.6

requires all new SCS staff to undertake specifically developed online training modules in child protection and mandatory on commencement of employment and existing staff undertake refresher training.

1.7

requires all SCS staff to undertake annual updates in the Code of Professional Conduct.

2. Children participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.

DESCRIPTION

SCS acknowledges the significance of student voice in school communities for the development of young people. SCS provides opportunities for students to participate in decision-making in their schools and the SCS community and to incorporate student voice in processes. Staff encourage students to feel comfortable coming forward with any concerns around their safety and know they will be taken seriously.

INDICATORS

  • Children are able to express their views and opportunities are provided for students to participate in decisions that affect their lives.
  • The importance of friendships is recognised and support from peers is encouraged, in helping children feel safe and be less isolated.
  • Children can access sexual abuse prevention programs and information.
  • Staff and volunteers are attuned to signs of harm and facilitate child friendly ways for children to communicate and raise their concerns.

SYDNEY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS:

2.1

uses student surveys which facilitate student voice. The data flowing from this engagement is analysed at a school level.

2.2

provides a large selection of pastoral programs using and promoting the Student Wellbeing and Pastoral Care Policy.

2.3

promotes Evangelisation Days and Religious Education programs incorporating elements of positive relationships.

2.4

implements Anti-bullying policies and procedures which contain relevant and clear information relating to the management of aspects to child safety.

2.5

provides School Counsellors within schools and regions accessible to children within SCS.

2.6

fosters strong relationships with external agencies, for example, Police Youth Liaison Officers to deliver direct programs to students across SCS.

2.7

organises regional Youth Forums to ensure genuine representative student voice is promoted and responded to.

2.8

encourages students to participate in the creation of materials and programs relevant to them and their peers.

2.9

promotes student leadership programs that provide student voice.

2.10

provides access to and implementation of the NESA PDHPE curriculum, syllabus and resources which incorporate units on education in respect to protective behaviours.

2.11

develops and distributes resources to and inducts volunteers and parents through utilisation of SCS Volunteer Resource Kit and Parent Helper Workshop.

3. Families and communities are informed and involved.

DESCRIPTION

SCS families and communities have a critical role to play in the education of students. SCS works in partnership with parents to keep them informed and involved in matters relating to their child’s safety, learning and wellbeing.

INDICATORS

  • Families have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of their child and participate in decisions affecting their child.
  • SCS engages in open, two- way communication with families and communities about its child safety approach and relevant information is accessible.
  • Families and communities have a say in SCS policies and practices.
  • Families and communities are informed about SCS’ operations and governance.

SYDNEY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS:

3.1

 promotes and incorporates the commitment in the Archbishop’s Charter for Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Sydney which articulates that SCS will “work in partnership with and support parents as the primary educators of their children”

3.2

offers, in keeping with the SCS Parent Charter, a range of opportunities for parents to engage in the services and supports provided to their children

3.3

provides opportunities for parents to work in partnership with schools via the various forums, information evenings and meetings that schools provide throughout each year.

3.4

provides forums for engagement with the clergy and members of congregations and religious through regional forums and in schools through regular contact with parish priests, religious brothers and sisters

3.5

makes available and promotes a number of resources and materials to parents and communities, which support the child safety culture.

4. Equity is promoted and diversity respected.

DESCRIPTION

SCS is committed to ensuring a fair and equitable environment for all where the individual needs of students are respected and addressed. Staff encourage students to be aware of the diverse needs of those around them.

Indicators

  • SCS actively anticipates children’s diverse circumstances and respond effectively to those with additional vulnerabilities.
  • All children have access to information, support and complaints processes.
  • Particular attention is paid to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children with disability, and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

SYDNEY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS:

4.1

ensures that it delivers its services in education and evangelisation in a manner that recognises and supports the diverse needs of its multicultural students who present with a range of abilities and needs.  In particular, SCS ensures its practices are underpinned and supported by a range of policies, procedures and guidelines which are embedded in those practices including, but not limited to:-

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy
  • Deradicalisation of Students Policy
  • Students with Complex Care Needs (Medical Assistance)
  • Students with Disability and Additional Learning Needs e-Handbook
  • Supporting Students with Complex Social and Emotional Needs Policy and Guidelines
  • Resolution of Complaints Policy
4.2

appoints and supports Regional Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers and employs Aboriginal Education Workers within schools with significant numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to act as a link between community and to support the needs of students from these cultural backgrounds.

4.3

implements a range of learning programs pertinent to the particular needs of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds and students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

4.4

employs a range of specialist staff to implement programs with particular emphasis to the diverse learning needs of students including but not limited to EAL/D, sight and hearing impaired and gifted and talented students.

4.5

offers a range of wellbeing services through its Regional Wellbeing teams.

5. People working with children are suitable and supported.

DESCRIPTION

It is a priority of SCS to follow stringent screening processes, to ensure that the best possible candidates are employed to work with children across the Archdiocese, in teaching and support roles. Induction at central office, regional office and school levels ensure, that staff are aware of their duty of care in relation to child safety issues.

INDICATORS

  • recruitment, including advertising and screening, emphasises child safety.
  • relevant staff and volunteers have Working with Children Checks.
  • all staff and volunteers receive an appropriate induction and are aware of their child safety responsibilities, including reporting obligations.
  • supervision and people management has a child safety focus.

SYDNEY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS:

5.1

implements, reviews and monitors rigorous recruitment and screening processes.

5.2

requires all staff to hold an active working with children check number.

5.3

incorporates child protection screening questions and checks into the selection and recruitment process.

5.4

provides schools with regular updates on child safety including a training presentation workshopped with staff at the commencement of each year.

5.5

requires all staff to verify that they have read, understood and been onboarded into relevant child protection policies and guidelines.

5.6

 requires volunteers and contractors to verify that they have read, understood and are aware of the expectations of providing services in a child-related environment, and are required to execute a Form of  Undertaking, agreeing to appropriate behaviours in schools when engaging and/or being in contact with children and young people.

6. Processes to respond to complaints of child sexual abuse are child focused.

DESCRIPTION

SCS is committed in ensuring complaints of child sexual abuse are responded to appropriately. Through clear and specific processes relating to complaints and allegations, SCS staff ensures a response which is child focused, independent and includes consultation and/or investigative partnership with external stakeholders.

INDICATORS

  • SCS has a child focused complaint handling policy which clearly outlines roles and responsibilities, approaches to dealing with different types of complaints and obligations to act and report.
  • Effective complaint handling processes are understood by children, staff, families and volunteers.
  • Complaints are taken seriously, responded to promptly and thoroughly, and reporting, privacy and employment law obligations are met.

SYDNEY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS:

6.1

 develops child-friendly resources and ensures that students are aware of and provided pathways to bring forward in a safe manner any concerns, questions or issues relating to their personal safety or to the safety of their peers.  SCS ensures that there are mechanisms to adequately respond when matters are raised.

6.2

 reviews complaints as part of SCS’ quality assurance processes to monitor compliance, determine any trends which require response, and to update practices, policies and procedures as part of a continual improvement process in the area of child safety.

6.3

employs a Child Protection team to respond to any complaints or allegations raised.

6.4

fosters strong relationships with external agencies and proactively networks with the Office of the Children’s Guardian, NSW Ombudsman, Family and Community Services and the NSW Police to ensure quality and regular review of SCS policy and procedures.

7. Staff are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children safe through continual education and training.

DESCRIPTION

SCS is committed to the ongoing professional development of staff on child safety matters. Interactive training modules for staff, contractors and volunteers have been developed and regularly reviewed and updated.

Indicators

  • Relevant staff and volunteers receive training on the nature and indicators of child maltreatment, particularly institutional child sexual abuse.
  • Staff and volunteers receive training on SCS’ child safe practices and child protection.
  • Relevant staff and volunteers are supported to develop practical skills in protecting children and responding to disclosures.

SYDNEY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS:

7.1

 provides training materials in Risk Of Significant Harm (ROSH) reporting and reporting requirements in relation to the Ombudsman legislation for staff available on SCS’ Child Safe Communities Site.

7.2

provides staff with training and inservicing regarding SCS policies and guidelines for responding to child safety incidents.

7.3

have a range of policies, procedures and guidelines available for staff on the SCS intranet as outlined in Appendix A: Resources for staff, volunteers and contractors.

7.4

ensures that all staff possess the necessary skills required to investigate matters raised.

8. Physical and online environments minimise the opportunity for abuse to occur.

DESCRIPTION

SCS is proactive in keeping current with the online environment and providing systems to ensure that the infrastructure in schools support a safe learning environment. Policies surrounding the use of ICT for staff and students in schools are clearly articulated and reviewed annually.

INDICATORS

  • Risks in the online and physical environment are identified and mitigated without compromising a child’s right to privacy and healthy child development.
  • The online environment is used in accordance with the institution’s code of conduct and relevant policies.

SYDNEY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS:

8.1

inducts and regularly updates staff on appropriate behaviours to encourage and to avoid when interacting and engaging with students and young persons.

8.2

 has clear ICT Processes in relation to search filters/firewalls and blocks on accessing certain websites in schools and these are regularly reviewed.

8.3

 develops, implements and adopts into school environment, relevant policies and procedures.

8.4

reviews annually, policies and procedures pertaining to the use of ICT.

8.5

ensures that appropriate procedures are in place for staff and student engagement to occur.

9.  Implementation of child safe standards is continuously reviewed and improved.

DESCRIPTIONS

SCS is involved in a variety of internal and external review processes which ensure that child safety policies and processes remain current and effective. SCS has a number of compliance mechanisms in schools including all child safety cases reviewed by SCS child safety experts and the NSW Ombudsman’s office ensuring internal and external compliance with relevant legislation.

INDICATORS

  • SCS regularly reviews and improves child safe practices.
  • Complaints and concerns are analysed to identify causes and systemic failures to inform continuous improvement.

SYDNEY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS:

9.1

reviews policies within SCS on a three yearly review cycle, with amendments during that period as the need arises.

9.2

analyses statistics on a quarterly basis for the purpose of providing information to the leadership team and SACS board.

9.3

distributes monthly reports to the Chancery office of the Sydney Archdiocese, for analysis of trends and patterns at a statewide level.

9.4

creates new policies and procedures to respond to changing needs in the area of child safety, with reference to data from a range of sources, including:

  • information and trend data arising from SCS internal and external audits in child safety
  • information and trend data relating to reportable conduct matters and ROSH reports
9.5

meets quarterly with the NSW Ombudsman’s office which informs direction in policy, procedure development and makes recommendations.

9.6

sets clear expectations for Principals to review Child Protection procedures annually with all staff.

10. Policies and procedures document how the institution is child safe.

DESCRIPTION

SCS has comprehensive child safety and child protection policies and procedures which govern all SCS schools and staff. These policies and procedures address the elements of child safety in a clear manner. Compliance with SCS policies and procedures is enforced across the system. Staff and volunteers are regularly inducted into policies and procedures to ensure understanding.

INDICATORS

  • Policies and procedures address all child safe organisation elements.
  • Policies and procedures are accessible and easy to understand.
  • Stakeholder consultation informs the development of policies and procedures.
  • SCS leaders champion and model compliance with policies and procedures.
  • Staff and volunteers understand and implement the policies and procedures.

SYDNEY CATHOLIC SCHOOLS:

10.1

has readily available child safety policies listed in Annexure A: Child Safety Resources.

10.2

acts on feedback provided by NSW Ombudsman Office after each investigation and ensures  any recommended changes are implemented.

10.3

facilitates a series of regular consultation and review processes with the SCS leadership team and representative primary and secondary Principal committees.

10.4

systems are in place to ensure accountability and compliance of leaders who are required to model and monitor compliance with policies and procedures.

10.5

incorporates into system-wide processes (i.e. contract renewal, cyclic review and other audits), mechanisms which give feedback and information on the child safety framework and adopt mechanisms for follow up at the local level.

10.6

monitors and acts on effectiveness of policy and procedures through risk management registers.

SCS Child safe communities framework-print out