Child Protection Policy and Booklet launched

Placement Solutions Takes The Lead On Child Protection

I have to admit to feeling quite proud on August 9 when we launched our new ChildProtection Policy and accompanying booklet. We are, as far as I am aware, the first agency of our kind in Australia to document such a policy.

Our policy is certainly the first of its kind to be approved by Child Wise, one of Australia’s leading not-for-profit child sexual abuse prevention organisations.

Over 40 people attended our launch and received training in the policy and in child protection more broadly. However, this didn’t happen without a huge amount of work beforehand. We’ve been lucky to have working with us on the policy a lawyer with experience in child protection, who is now working with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Why did we need to go through all this? In our view there is simply not enough child protection provided by the current laws and regulations covering in-home care. For instance, Victorian law does not mandate nannies to report child abuse or the indicators of it. In contrast to some states in the USA, where all adults are mandated to report child abuse, in Victoria this ‘privilege’ is given only to select groups.

Our belief is that adults – parents, carers or otherwise – have a moral and ethical responsibility to keep children safe and protect them from harm including, of course, physical or emotional abuse. We endeavour to always consider and act in ‘the best interests of the child’, as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and it is this principle that has driven, and formed the basis of, our policy.

Of course a policy isn’t much use unless it can be put into practice, so with this in mind we are providing training to all our staff and nannies in its implementation. What this means, first and foremost when it comes to child abuse, is knowing what to look for.

Child abuse is statistically broken up into four areas: sexual abuse, emotional abuse (including bullying), physical abuse and neglect. While sexual and physical abuse tend to get most of the media attention, emotional abuse and neglect can be equally serious. It goes without saying that many instances of abuse involve more than one of these.

In our training we learnt some challenging statistics, including that 94 per cent of allabusers are men. However, when a woman does abuse, the situation tends to be serious.

The vast majority (95 per cent) of abusers are known to and trusted by the child. And, while it may seem obvious, it is worth reminding that abusers don’t look different to anybody else.

Our policy document is comprehensive, outlining everything from child abuseindicators to legislative and legal requirements on those reporting abuse, and what to do, and not do, in response to an allegation. We include a step-by-step guide to reporting and a code of conduct.

This policy will be central to our operation from now on.