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Child Safety Standards



DGA and DC CHILD SAFETY AND WELLBEING POLICY


This Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy was implemented with effect from1 July 2022. It sets out the commitment of management and staff to child safety and wellbeing. It describes how our organisation keeps children safe from harm and child abuse in accordance with the Victorian Child Safe Standards.

If there is concern for the immediate safety of a child, immediately call 000.

Purpose

This Policy outlines how this organisation prioritises the safety and wellbeing of children and what steps we will take to do this.

Statement of commitment to child safety

All children have a right to be and feel safe. The welfare of the children we convey will always be a high priority and we do not tolerate child abuse and harm. We aim to create an environment where children feel safe being transported in our fleet.

Definitions

child/ children means a person who is under the age of 18 years.

child abuse means:

  • a sexual offence committed against a child
  • an offence committed against a child under section 49M(1) of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), such as grooming
  • physical violence against a child
  • causing serious emotional or psychological harm to a child
  • serious neglect of a child.

complaint

A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction related to one or more of the following:

  • our services or dealings with individuals
  • allegations of abuse or misconduct by a staff member or other individual associated with our organisation
  • disclosures of abuse or harm made by a child or young person
  • the conduct of a child or young person
  • the inadequate handling of a prior concern
  • general concerns about the safety of a group of children or activity.

concern

A concern refers to any potential issue that could impact negatively on the safety and wellbeing of children.

harm is damage to the health, safety or wellbeing of a child, including as a result of child abuse by adults or the conduct of other children. It includes physical, emotional, sexual and psychological harm. Harm can arise from a single act or event and can also be cumulative, that is, arising as a result of a series of acts or events over a period of time.


The role of management

Management will ensure that children’s safety is prioritised and that action is taken when anyone raises concerns about children’s safety.

Management will champion and model a child safe culture in this organisation. We encourage anyone involved with the organisation to report a child safety concern. Management will work to create a positive culture around reporting so that people feel comfortable to raise concerns.

Everyone involved in the organisation has a role in identifying and managing risks of child abuse and harm. Management will support staff to take action to manage risks, in accordance with this policy. We will also ensure that appropriate child safety training for staff is identified and completed.

All our child safe policies and practices will be reviewed.


Children’s empowerment and participation

We respect the rights of children including the right to be safe on our services

We do not tolerate bullying or abusive or racist behaviour between children and take action if this occurs.

We seek to understand what makes children feel safe on our services by valuing children’s’ opinions. We will act on safety concerns raised by children or their families either directly or via the school. Children are encouraged to tell their teacher, their principal or report to directly to the business about any complaints or safety concerns they have in relation to their bus service.


Families and communities

Parents and others are invited to provide feedback with us at any time via the school or directly.

We provide information to families and serviced schools upon request about our child safe policies and practices by providing this Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy and Code of Conduct to our serviced school.


Creating culturally safe environments for Aboriginal children and their families

  • We are committed to creating an environment where Aboriginal children and families are welcomed and included. Strategies to embed cultural safety for Aboriginal children include providing training for staff.
  • receiving feedback from Aboriginal children and families on their experience of our service, particularly how safe they feel expressing their identity including their culture.

Valuing diversity

We value diversity and equity for all children. To achieve this we:

  • provide training for staff;
  • welcome and support participation of children;
  • have zero tolerance of racism and other forms of discrimination and take action when discrimination or exclusion is identified.

Code of Conduct

This organisation has a Child Safe Code of Conduct. Its requirements will be communicated to all staff, and they must comply with it. Breaches of the Code of Conduct may result in disciplinary action including termination of employment.


Employee recruitment

Child safety and wellbeing is central to recruitment and screening processes for staff as outlined in the recruitment and screening policy. We only recruit staff who are appropriate to engage with children.

We require a Working with Children Check, Police Checks and referee checks for all staff who have a role with children or have access to children’s personal information. We require staff to have appropriate qualifications for their roles and check to make sure these qualifications are valid. Regular checks are made during a person’s employment to ensure they remain valid.


Employee support

All management and staff receive training on induction and as needed to ensure they understand their responsibilities in relation to child safety, including information and record keeping obligations, and to support their engagement with children.


Concerns, complaints and reporting

If a staff member has any concerns, the staff member will record the reason and report the information promptly and confidentially to the operator, who will notify the relevant person (for example, the school Principal). Should a driver believe that a matter requires police attention they will advise the operator (and if school services, the Principal) and the operator or school will report the matter to the police.

All reports of child abuse and child safety concerns will be treated seriously, whether they are made by an adult or a child and whether they are about the conduct of an adult or a child. All complaints and child safety concerns will be responded to promptly and thoroughly.

Our Complaint Handling Policy includes information about how a complaint or child safety concern will be responded to and the process to make a complaint, as well as the support available to those making a complaint and those involved in the complaint process.

If a complaint includes an allegation or incident of child abuse or harm, including racism, it must be reported in accordance with the complaint handling policy. All management and staff are required to prioritise children’s safety in any response and to report all potentially criminal conduct to Victoria Police. Staff may be subject to actions to support child safety including:

  • being stood down during an investigation or terminated following an investigation
  • having their duties altered so they do not engage with children while at work
  • not allowing unsupervised contact with children while at work
  • removing their access to our IT system and facilities.

Complaints or concerns about child safety can be made at any time via the school or directly.


Record keeping

This organisation will make and keep full and accurate records about all child-related complaints or safety concerns which will be recorded in our incident reporting system.

Records which may assist with the investigation of a complaint or safety concern will be identified and kept as part of the record of an investigation. Records will be kept even if an investigation does not substantiate a complaint.

We will record and keep the outcome of any investigations, and the resolution of any complaints. This includes findings made, reasons for decisions and actions taken.

Records will be stored securely and kept for a minimum of 6 years.


Information sharing

This organisation may share relevant information to promote the safety and wellbeing of children, where it is lawful, appropriate and in their best interests. We will keep information about complaints confidential, except where it is necessary to share information to respond properly to a complaint or to prioritise child safety. We may also need to share information about incidents or complaints with external authorities to comply with the law or to prioritise safety.


Risk management

We recognise the importance of identifying, preventing, and reducing risks of child harm and abuse in this organisation. We conduct regular risk assessments and have a risk register (risk management plan) to address the risk of child abuse and harm. We will ensure that any risk controls put in place balance the need to manage harm with the requirements of contracted student transport. Management is responsible for approving the risk management plan. Staff are to comply with the risk management plan.


Non-compliance with this policy and the Code of Conduct

We will enforce this policy, the Code of Conduct and related child safety and wellbeing policies (see policies and procedures listed below). Alleged breaches by anyone will be investigated and may result in restriction of duties, suspension or termination of employment or engagement or other corrective action.


Review

We will review all child safe policies and practices at least annually as part of the annual internal audit required under our MIS, and if risks or circumstances change, and each policy will reflect that. We will also review relevant practices and policies in response to concerns, complaints, a child safety incident or ‘near miss’, and alleged significant breaches of policies or practices.

Findings from reviews will inform our approach to identifying/addressing flaws or failings in our policies and practices and the continuous improvement of our child safe practices.


Supporting documents – child safety and wellbeing system

The following policies and procedures work together to support child safety and wellbeing across our operations:

  • Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy
  • Code of Conduct
  • Complaint handling policy
  • Recruitment and screening policy
  • Risk management plan
  • Compliance Review checklist
  • Child Safe Standards training plan
  • DET School Bus Program, Policy and Procedures
  • DET Students with Disabilities Transport Program, Policy and Procedures

Supporting legislation

  • Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic) (including Child Safe Standards)
  • Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic) (including reporting to Child Protection)
  • Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) (including Failure to Protect and Failure to Disclose offences)
  • Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) (including Part XIII – Organisational liability for child abuse)
  • Bus Safety Act 2009
  • Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983





Driver Bus Lines Code Of Conduct

Date 30/6/2022


We are committed to having an organisation that is safe for all children where child abuse and harm are not tolerated. Child safety is a priority under our Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy, and the prevention and reporting of abuse is supported and encouraged. All staff and contractors involved with our business are responsible for promoting the safety, wellbeing and empowerment of children. We recognise that discrimination can harm children and we treat all children with dignity and respect.

This Code of Conduct sets expectations about how staff and contractors should behave around children. This helps children engage safely with our organisation.

Not following standards of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour is a breach of this Code of Conduct and may result in disciplinary or corrective action. The standards of behaviour to be followed at all times are attached in the table below.

Any breach of this Code of Conduct must be reported to the Managing Director or General Manager. If a complainant can’t utilise this process, then they can contact the Risk and Administration Manager.

Some breaches of this Code of Conduct may by law need to be reported to Victoria Police, or to the Commission for Children and Young People. Our Complaint Handling Policy provides more information about obligations to report matters to external authorities as well as describing protections and confidentiality provisions for anyone making a report. The Complaint Handling Policy can be obtained from Compliance.

Staff who breach our Code of Conduct may be subject to disciplinary action. This can include increased supervision, appointment to an alternative role, or suspension/termination from the organisation.


PLEASE NOTE:

If any person in a position of authority within our organisation becomes aware of a substantial risk that a child may become the victim of a sexual offence committed by an adult associated with the organisation (for example, an employee or contractor), and they have the power or responsibility to reduce or remove the risk, then they must take all reasonable steps to do so. A person in authority who negligently fails to take appropriate action to address the risk may be charged with the criminal offence of ‘failing to protect’ and may face a term of imprisonment.

If an adult reasonably believes a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child under the age of 16, they must report it to Victoria Police by calling 000 or going to their local police station. Failure to disclose such information may be a criminal offence.

This document will be reviewed during the annual MIS internal audit.



All staff must follow these standards of behaviour at all times.

  • take all reasonable steps to protect children from abuse
  • take disclosures of harm or abuse made by a child seriously and report to management immediately
  • raise concerns with management if risks to child safety are identified
  • report and act on any concerns or observed breaches of this Code of Conduct to management
  • participate in training on child safety and wellbeing
  • treat all children and young people with respect, regardless of race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality, cultural background, financial situation, disability or other characteristics
  • consider the different needs of all children
  • make Aboriginal children and families feel included and welcome
  • never be racist towards anyone and report any instances of racism I become aware of
  • report any conflicts of interest I have (such as an outside relationship with a child) that may affect my ability to perform my role
  • respect the privacy of children and their families
  • comply with all relevant Australian and Victorian legislation and our child safe policies and procedures
  • report any inappropriate behaviour of a contractor to management
  • report breaches of this Code immediately


Staff must not do the following things.

  • condone or participate in illegal, unsafe, abusive or harmful behaviour towards children – this includes physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, grooming, neglect or sexual misconduct
  • ignore or disregard any concerns, suspicions or disclosures of child abuse or harm
  • exaggerate or trivialise child abuse issues
  • use hurtful or offensive behaviour or language with children
  • fail to report information to police if I know a child has been abused
  • touch children in a way that is unnecessary or unsuitable and falls outside what is reasonable to assist a student with a temporary or permanent disability to board, travel or alight from the bus service
  • persistently criticise and/or denigrate a child
  • verbally assault a child or create a climate of fear
  • offer children and young people alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs
  • show children pornographic images
  • share details of sexual experiences with a child
  • use sexual language or gestures in the presence of children
  • initiate unnecessary physical contact with children or do things of a personal nature that children can do for themselves
  • develop ‘special’ relationships with specific children or show favouritism through the provision of gifts or unnecessary or unsuitable attention
  • have unauthorised contact with children online, on social media or by phone
  • take photographs, screenshots or share images of children that are not authorised by the school Principal or the Principal’s representative (not related to CCTV)
  • be alone with a child when there is no professional reason for doing so
  • engage in babysitting, mentoring and/or tutoring a child out of work hours (without managerial approval for this kind of secondary employment)
  • enter changing facilities
  • fail to report breaches of this Code immediately





Child Safety Standards Complaint Handling Policy and Procedure

DGA and DC MIS CSS 2022 Complaints Policy – July 2022


This organisation has developed a Complaint Handling Policy and Procedure to receive and manage complaints and safety concerns from stakeholders including schools, children and their families. This document is a supporting document to our Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy and, with it and other related documents, forms part of our child safety and wellbeing system. These documents can be accessed on DGA Compliance.

The objective of this policy and procedure is to ensure that:

  • stakeholders are aware of and understand our complaint handling process;
  • complaints are considered on their merits and investigated promptly and impartially with a balanced view of all information or evidence; and
  • steps are taken to actively protect personal information.

This policy is referenced for attention in our Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy and Code of Conduct.

In this policy, a complaint means any written or verbal expression of dissatisfaction about the actions of managers or staff in this organisation in respect of children, including alleged breaches of the organisation’s Code of Conduct.

All allegations of child abuse and harm/child safety concerns will be treated seriously, whether they are made by an adult or a child and whether they are about the conduct of an adult or a child.

If a complaint includes an allegation or incident of child abuse or harm, it must be reported in accordance with this complaint handling policy.

If an allegation involves a criminal offense, it must be reported to Victoria Police. Criminal offences include grooming for sexual conduct with a child under the age of 16 years and failure to disclose a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child under 16 years of age unless they have a reasonable excuse for not disclosing or exemptions apply.

If any person in a position of authority within our organisation becomes aware of a substantial risk that a child may become the victim of a sexual offence committed by an adult associated with the organisation (for example, an employee or contractor), and they have the power or responsibility to reduce or remove the risk, then they must take all reasonable steps to do so. A person in authority who negligently fails to take appropriate action to address the risk may be charged with the criminal offence of ‘failing to protect’ and may face a term of imprisonment.

If an adult reasonably believes a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child under the age of 16, they must report it to Victoria Police by calling 000 or going to their local police station. Failure to disclose the information may be a criminal offence.

All staff are required to cooperate with law enforcement in their investigation of any complaint.

If there is concern for the immediate safety of a child, immediately call 000.


How to make a complaint

Any complaints or concerns about child safety should be made to the School Principal or their authorised representative, and/or to the bus operator Managing Director or General Manager.

A complaint should include the name and contact number of the person making the complaint, and a clear statement of what the complaint is about.

If children make complaints or report any concerns to staff or drivers, these should be listened to and brought to the attention of senior management.


How a complaint or child safety concern will be responded to and investigated

All complaints and child safety concerns will be responded to promptly by an authorised person.

We will investigate all complaints thoroughly by finding out the facts, speaking with the relevant people and verifying explanations where possible.

We will:

  • acknowledge and address the complaint as soon as possible;
  • ensure that complaints are handled confidentially in accordance with privacy and employment law obligations;
  • take appropriate action to ensure the child is safe and cared for during the complaint procedure; and
  • ensure that any action required to adequately address the complaint is taken promptly.

If you are not satisfied with our response, you may escalate the complaint to the Commission for Children and Young People
[telephone 1300 782 978; https://ccyp.vic.gov.au/contact/] for further consideration.


Outcomes

Under disciplinary policies, staff may be subject to actions to support child safety including:

  • being stood down with pay during an investigation or terminated following an investigation
  • having their duties altered so they do not engage with children while at work
  • not allowing unsupervised contact with children while at work
  • removing access to our IT system and facilities.

Contractors will be dealt with by corrective action on a case by case basis.


Support and assistance available to those making a complaint

Anyone seeking to make a complaint will be supported to do so.

Any child making a complaint will be given time and space to do so, so that their issue can be heard, and they will be asked if they wish to have another child or person with them at that time for support.

Any adult making a complaint may have a support person with them. Support persons can provide moral support for the complainant but must not involve themselves in the complaint by acting as advocates for the complainant.


Support for those involved in the complaint process.

We will treat anyone subject to the investigation of a complaint objectively, and:

  • inform them of any complaint about their actions;
  • provide them with an opportunity to explain the circumstances;
  • provide them with appropriate support; and
  • update them on the complaint investigation and the result.

Record keeping

Records will be created and kept in accordance with our Child and Safety and Wellbeing Policy policy.


Review process

This Complaint Handling Policy and Procedure will be reviewed in accordance with our Child and Safety and Wellbeing Policy, along with our other related documents which form part of our child safety and wellbeing system.