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Child Safety policy

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Policy is effective from 1 July 2022.

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Section 2 - Purpose

(2) This Policy outlines the University's commitment to promoting the safety and wellbeing of children connected to the University community.

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Section 3 - Scope

(3) This Policy applies to all students, staff and associates of the University.

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Section 4 - Policy

(4) The University acknowledges that children are part of the University community including as students, staff, the dependents of staff and students, visitors to the campuses and through the University’s research projects, community engagement and school outreach activities.

(5) The University is committed to child safety and to promoting children’s best interests. This includes a commitment to the cultural safety of Aboriginal children, the cultural safety of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and the safety of children with a disability.

(6) The University does not tolerate child abuse.

(7) The University aims to prevent child abuse through a range of measures including:

  1. providing regular education, training and communication  
  2. implementing risk assessment, management and mitigation strategies
  3. Child Safety Working Group regularly reviewing risks and improving child safety practices. This group reports to the University’s Health, Wellbeing and Safety Committee and Under 18 Student Support Network
  4. maintaining a network of trained Child Safe Advisors
  5. relevant staff background checks.

(8) The University is committed to promoting the participation and empowerment of children who are students at the University and with whom the University otherwise engages through a range of mechanisms including:

  1. Child Safety Working Group and Under 18 Student Support Network of key staff to address the needs of children studying at the University and promote compliance with relevant legislation and standards.
  2. International Student Support Officers meet regularly with all international students under 18 years of age in accordance with the Underage Student Management policy.
  3. Senior Student Advisers and Accelerate Coordinators communicate regularly with domestic students under 17 years of age to listen to their concerns, provide support and address their needs.
  4. The University will also seek input from school students engaged in outreach programs with the University on any wellbeing or safety concerns or ideas to improve practices.

Recruitment and employment practices

(9) The University is committed to recruitment and employment practices which protect children and promote their safety and wellbeing through appropriate screening processes and staff training.

(10) All new staff (including casual professionals, sessional academics, fixed term and continuing positions) and associates must obtain and maintain a Working with Children Check at their own cost and staff must nominate Deakin as their employer. The University publishes Working with Children Check Guidelines to provide information on obtaining, maintaining and recording information on Working with Children Checks. The University also uses reference checks and police checks as a means of screening staff in accordance with the Recruitment of Staff procedure and Casual Professional and Sessional Academic Staff Employment procedure.

(11) Existing staff who move into roles that involve potential direct contact with children as part of their duties must obtain and maintain a Working with Children Check at their own cost.

(12) Staff who are unable to obtain a Victorian Working with Children’s Check (including because they reside overseas or interstate) must alternatively provide a relevant Police Check, or interstate Working with Children’s Check.

(13) All staff must complete online child safety training. Further training is offered by Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to student-facing staff and others involved in working with children, with specialist training provided to Child Safe Advisers through ChildWise. Child Safe Advisers are trained to provide an initial contact and referral point for those who have child safety concerns, as outlined in the Child Safety and Child Abuse Response and Reporting Procedure.

Responding to and reporting child abuse

(14) All children who disclose child abuse or that they are feeling unsafe will be heard, taken seriously and treated with sensitivity and compassion by the University.

(15) The Child Safety and Child Abuse Response and Reporting procedure sets out the process for responding to and reporting child abuse concerns and complaints.

Child protection in research and externally-funded activities

(16) When undertaking research and externally funded activities staff, students and associates of the University must also comply with all research ethics and compliance obligations for child safety, including those required by funding agencies (for example the DFAT Child Protection Policy 2017).

Child-focused risk management in research

(17) The lead researcher for each research project involving or having contact with children must prepare a child-focused risk assessment and, where the risk assessment indicates a risk of child abuse, the lead researcher must prepare a Risk Management Plan for approval by:

  1. in the case of research undertaken in a faculty, the Associate Dean Research of that faculty; or
  2. in the case of research undertaken in an institute, the Director of that institute.

(18) Risk Management Plans prepared under clause 17 will be reported by the Associate Dean Research or Institute Director to the Pro Vice-Chancellor Research Strategy and Performance.

(19) Each Associate Dean Research and Director of an Institute must review each Risk Management Plan in their Faculty or Institute with the relevant lead researcher on an annual basis throughout the term of the applicable funding agreement and must report any modifications to the Risk Management Plan to the Pro Vice-Chancellor Research Strategy and Performance.

(20) The Pro Vice-Chancellor Research Strategy and Performance will prescribe the form in which and the times at which the reports set out in clauses 18 and 19 must be submitted, and they will be responsible for providing compliance reports as required by the relevant funding body.

(21) The University reserves the right to:

  1. remove a member of staff or a student from a research project; or
  2. terminate the engagement of an Associate
if the individual breaches this Policy or if an allegation of child abuse is raised against that individual.
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Section 5 - Procedure

(22) Refer to the:

  1. Child Safety and Child Abuse Response and Reporting procedure regarding responding to and reporting concerns about child safety
  2. Underage Student Management policy regarding domestic students under 18 years of age
  3. Flexible Working procedure or the OHS Manual regarding supervision of children on campus.
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Section 6 - Definitions

(23) For the purpose of this Policy:

  1. associates: contractors, consultants, volunteers, visiting appointees and visitors to the University.
  2. child: a person under the age of 18 years
  3. child abuse: includes sexual abuse, child exploitation, physical abuse or violence, serious psychological or emotional abuse, serious neglect and grooming
  4. staff: members of the Academic or Professional staff, Executive or Honorary staff
  5. student: as defined in section 3 Deakin University Act 2009 (Vic) means: (a) a person enrolled at the University in a course leading to a degree or other award; or (b) a person designated as a student or who is of a class of persons designated as students by the Council.