Child Safe organisation

Moreland City Council Child Safe Standards

Moreland City Council is committed to being a Child Safe organisation and has zero tolerance for child abuse. We recognise our legal and moral responsibilities in keeping children and young people safe from harm and promoting their best interests. 

We will develop and maintain targeted policies, procedures and training to support employees, volunteers and contractors to achieve these commitments. We create environments where all children and young people have a voice and are listened to, their views are respected and they contribute to how we plan for, design and develop our services and activities.

All Council employees, volunteers and contractors have an obligation to report suspected cases of child abuse in accordance with Council Policies, Procedures and Guidelines.

Background

Victorian organisations that provide services or facilities for children are required by law to implement Child Safe Standards to protect children from harm. 

In 2012 and 2013 the Betrayal of Trust inquiry looked into the handling of child abuse by religious and non-government organisations. Its report highlighted poor and inconsistent practices for keeping children safe. It found some organisations’ cultures did not focus on children’s safety and many failed to report or act on child abuse allegations. 

The focus of the Child Safe Standards is helping organisations drive cultural change so that protecting children from abuse is embedded in everyday thinking and practice. See Victoria Government Child Safe Standards for further information.

What is child abuse?

The Child Safe Standards aim to protect children from abuse in organisations. Under the Act, child abuse includes the following categories of abuse:

  • Physical violence
  • Sexual offences
  • Serious emotional or psychological abuse
  • Serious neglect

What should be reported?

Any child safety concerns, such as:

  • disclosure of abuse or harm
  • allegation of suspicion or observation
  • breach of Code of Conduct relating to child safety
  • environmental safety issues

Our approach

We want to protect all of the children in our workplaces and those involved with our services, programs and activities, and do what we can to keep children safe.

Council has established a Child Safe Policy. The purpose of this policy is to:

  • Outline Council’s commitment to child safety
  • Identify what we can do in our workplace, services, programs and activities to create an environment where children are safe and protected from abuse; and
  • Communicate the process and expectation for reporting any allegations or reasonable suspicions of child abuse to the appropriate authorities.

While all children are vulnerable, it has been identified through legislation that those more vulnerable include:

  • Children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • Aboriginal children
  • Children with disabilities

Council undertook consultation with children, young people and parents in the development of this policy.

The consultation process identified a category of children considered to be more vulnerable in Moreland, which is in addition to those prescribed in legislation. 

Recognising the definition of child for these purposes as including children and young people under the age of 18, Council incorporated an additional commitment: Ensuring the inclusion, participation and empowerment of children who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer.

Council has adopted a model of support, whereby our Contact Officer roles have been expanded to incorporate Child Safe responsibilities, to provide guidance on our Child Safe processes as required. 

This network is further supported by three designated Child Safe Officers, who have expertise and experience in dealing with child abuse and the associated reporting protocols.

Offences include:

  • Failure to disclose: Reporting child sexual abuse is a community-wide responsibility. All adults in Victoria who have a reasonable belief that an adult has committed a sexual offence against a child under 16 have an obligation to report that information to the police.
  • Failure to protect: People of authority are committing an offence if they know of a substantial risk of child sexual abuse, have the power or responsibility to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently fail to do so.
  • Grooming: Grooming offence targets communication – including online communication – with a child under the age of 16 or their parents with the intent of committing child sexual abuse. This offence targets predatory conduct undertaken to prepare a child for sexual abuse at a later time with the groomer (aged 18 years old or over) or another adult.
  • Mandatory reporting: Any personnel who are mandatory reporters (doctors, nurses, midwives, teachers – including early childhood teachers, principals and police) must report to child protection if they believe on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection from physical injury or sexual abuse.