Procedures for Responding to and Reporting Child Safety Incidents or Concerns
Ministerial Order 1359 requires the College to have a clear procedure or set of procedures for responding to complaints or concerns relating to child abuse, as defined in the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic) (CWS Act), in accordance with the Order and other legal obligations.
The College’s Child Safety Program includes work systems, practices, policies and procedures for responding to and reporting all child safety incidents or concerns, including but not limited to incidents, concerns, complaints, allegations or disclosures of “child abuse” as defined in Ministerial Order 1359 and the CWS Act.
Key Definition: Child Safety Incident or Concern
At Wesley College, and in our Child Safety Program, a “child safety incident or concern” means an incident of or a concern about:
- “child abuse” as defined in Ministerial Order 1359 and the CWS Act. These define “child abuse” as:
- any act committed against a child involving:
- a sexual offence against a child
- the criminal offence of grooming (which includes grooming of a child or of a person with care, supervision or responsibility for the child with the intention of facilitating the child being engaged or involved in the commission of a sexual offence)
- the infliction, on a child, of physical violence or “serious” emotional or psychological harm*
- the “serious” neglect of a child including exposure to family violence and its effects*
- any act committed against a child involving:
- a child being “in need of protection” as defined in the Child, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic) (CYF Act), which includes:
- abandonment of the child by their parents and no other suitable person can be found who is willing and able to care for the child
- the child’s parents are dead or incapacitated and no other suitable person can be found who is willing and able to care for the child
- “significant” harm as a result of physical injury, from which the child’s parents have not or are not likely to protect the child*
- “significant” harm as a result of sexual abuse (including likely future sexual abuse as a result of grooming), from which the child’s parents have not or are not likely to protect the child*
- “significant” emotional or psychological harm, from which the child’s parents have not or are not likely to protect the child*
- “significant” neglect by the child’s parents*
- “reportable conduct” as defined in the CWS Act, which means conduct by an employee of the College (whether in the course of their employment or not) involving:
- a sexual offence committed against or in the presence of a child
- sexual misconduct committed against or in the presence of a child
- physical violence committed against or in the presence of a child
- any behaviour that causes “significant” emotional or psychological harm to a child*
- “significant” neglect of a child*
- a criminal offence against a child, or a student aged 18 or over, as set out in the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), such as:
- sexual penetration or sexual assault of, or sexual activity in the presence of, a child aged under 16 or a child aged 16 or 17 under the care, supervision or authority of the offender
- grooming a child aged under 16 or a child aged 16 or 17 under the care, supervision or authority of the offender
- grooming an adult who has a child under their care, supervision or authority
- encouraging a child aged under 16 or a child aged 16 or 17 under the offender’s care, supervision or authority to be involved in sexual activity
- a practice to change or suppress a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity, which is prohibited under the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act 2021 (Vic)
- a breach of our Child Safety Codes of Conduct, such as:
- a teacher engaging in undisclosed private meetings with a student who is not their own child
- a Volunteer sports coach engaging in inappropriate online personal communications with a student
- a Contractor music tutor publishing online photos, movies or recordings of a student without parental/carer consent.
* NOTE: “Serious” emotional or psychological harm and “serious” neglect involve harm that has a lasting permanent effect. “Significant” emotional or psychological harm and “significant” neglect involve harm that is more than trivial or insignificant, but need not be as high as “serious” and need not have a lasting permanent effect.
Overview of Procedures for Responding to and Reporting Child Safety Incidents or Concerns
Child safety incidents or concerns can take many forms. Unfortunately, the nature of child abuse and other harm is complex. Child abuse or other harm may occur over time and potential indicators of abuse or harm are often difficult to detect. The perpetrator may be a parent, carer, other family member, staff member, Volunteer, Contractor, another adult or even another child. The legal obligations for reporting allegations of child abuse or other harm can vary depending on the circumstances of the child safety incident or concern.
All of the College’s procedures for reporting and responding to child safety incidents or concerns are designed and implemented taking into account the diverse characteristics of the College community.
Specifically, parents/carers, family members and other community members who have child safety concerns about a student at the College are asked to follow the procedures set out in the summary of our Child Safety Program available on our public website.
The College’s Response to Internal Reports
The College will take appropriate, prompt action in response to all child safety incidents or concerns, including all allegations or disclosures of abuse or other harm, that are reported to the College, including by:
- externally reporting all matters that meet the required relevant thresholds to Child Protection, the Police, the Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP), and/or the Victorian Institute of Teaching, depending on the issues raised
- fully cooperating with any resulting investigation by an external agency
- protecting any student connected to the incident or concern until it is resolved and providing ongoing support to those affected
- taking particular measures in response to child safety incidents or concerns about an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student, a student from a culturally and linguistically diverse background or a student with disability, and other vulnerable students (such as students who are unable to live at home or students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex)
- sharing information with, or requesting information from, external people or agencies as permitted or required under the Child Information Sharing Scheme and/or the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme
- securing and retaining records of the child safety incident or concern and the College’s response to it
- taking broader actions to improve child safety at the College (including systemic reviews and resulting improvements).