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Child Safety and Child Abuse Response and Reporting procedure

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Procedure was approved by the Vice-Chancellor on 9 July 2017.

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Section 2 - Purpose

(2) This Procedure outlines the process that students, staff and associates are required to follow when they have concerns about the safety of a child. 

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Section 3 - Scope

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

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Section 4 - Policy

(4) Refer to the Child Safety policy

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Section 5 - Procedure

Child abuse reporting obligations

(5) All students, staff and associates who believe on reasonable grounds that a child member of the University community is in need of protection from child abuse must report their concerns to the University as soon as possible. In addition, there are external reporting requirements. Failure to report child abuse may amount to a criminal offence under section 49C of the Crimes Act 1958 and/or the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic). This Procedure includes information on how to report child abuse concerns within the University and to external authorities. It does not supersede legislative reporting requirements and is intended to be complementary to those requirements.

Identifying child abuse

(6) Students, staff or associates may have reasonable grounds for believing a child is in need of protection from child abuse if:

  1. a child states that they have been physically or sexually abused;
  2. a child states that they know someone who has been physically or sexually abused (sometimes the child may be talking about themselves);
  3. someone who knows the child states that the child has been physically or sexually abused;
  4. a child shows signs of being physically or sexually abused;
  5. the student, staff member or associate is aware of family violence, parental substance misuse or other adverse circumstances impacting on the child’s safety, stability or development;
  6. the student, staff member or associate observes signs or indicators of abuse, including non-accidental or unexplained injury, persistent neglect, poor care or lack of appropriate supervision; and/or
  7. a child’s actions or behaviours may place them at risk of significant harm.

(7) Students, staff and associates must respect confidentiality and comply with the Privacy policy when dealing with a case of suspected child abuse, and may only discuss details and the identity of the child and their family with those directly involved in the management of the child’s situation and to meet the reporting obligations set out in this Procedure.

How to report child abuse concerns

(8) If a child is at immediate risk of child abuse, a student, staff member or associate is to immediately telephone the police on 000 and then report the matter to a University Child Safe Adviser (these are members of the University’s Safer Community Service, Senior Student Advisers and designated child-safe trained Harassment and Discrimination Contact Officers) as outlined below.

(9) In relation to all child abuse concerns, students, staff and associates must, as soon as practicable:

  1. contact a Child Safe Adviser to discuss their concern in detail to ensure appropriate support is provided to any affected child and to enable the Child Safe Adviser to complete a Child Safe Critical Incident Report;
  2. report their child abuse concerns to external authorities as required. All concerns alleging physical abuse, a sexual offence by an adult against a child under 16 years or serious neglect must be reported to Victoria Police as they may constitute criminal offences (with limited exceptions). The Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Protection must be contacted for all child abuse matters and for reporting by mandated reporters.

Role of Child Safe Advisers

(10) Child Safe Advisers are Safer Community Services team members, Senior Student Advisers and designated child-safe trained Harassment and Discrimination Contact Officers. Contact details for Child Safe Advisers are provided on the University’s Child Safe webpage.

(11) Child Safe Advisers are responsible for providing consultation and advice to staff, students and associates, and for responding appropriately to a child who makes or is affected by an allegation of child abuse.

(12) Upon learning of an allegation or a disclosure of child abuse, a Child Safe Adviser will facilitate an appropriate and timely response by:

  1. providing a safe environment and support for the alleged victim and any other children alleged to be involved or affected as appropriate;
  2. providing clear information to the alleged victim and/or their parent or guardian (where appropriate) of what will be done in response to the allegation or disclosure, including any reporting obligations;
  3. completing a Child Safe Critical Incident Report as soon as possible;
  4. explaining to the informant, as relevant, the informant’s own external reporting obligations;
  5. informing the University Solicitor and Director, Equity and Diversity of the allegation or disclosure and providing them with the Child Safe Critical Incident Report as soon as possible to ensure that the University’s obligations and legislative reporting requirements are met; and
  6. keeping concurrent notes and records of all conversations, disclosures and of all follow-up actions.

(13) If information is received alleging a staff member or associate has abused a child, the Child Safe Critical Incident Report will be provided to the Executive Director, Human Resources by the relevant Child Safe Adviser as soon as practicable, and within 48 hours. Action may be taken against the staff member or associate as appropriate and in accordance with the Staff Discipline policy.

(14) If information is received alleging a student has abused a child, the Child Safe Critical Incident Report will be provided to the Chair, Student Misconduct Committee by the relevant Child Safe Adviser as soon as practicable, and within 48 hours. Action may be taken against the student in accordance with the Student General Misconduct procedure.

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Section 6 - Definitions

(15) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  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, physical abuse or violence, serious psychological or emotional abuse and serious neglect
  4. family violence: violence (either actual or threatened) which occurs within a family including physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial or social abuse.  Family violence is a criminal offence and can be liable to prosecution
  5. mandated reporter: Under section 182 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic) mandated reporters include primary and secondary school teachers and principals, registered medical practitioners, nurses and police officers. Mandated reporters must report child abuse concerns arising from their work to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services
  6. neglect: Neglect in relation to a child includes failure to provide an adequate standard of nutrition, medical care, clothing, shelter or supervision to the extent where their health or development is significantly impaired or placed at serious risk
  7. physical abuse: Consists of any non-accidental form of injury or serious physical harm inflicted on a child. It may result from physical punishment or physically aggressive treatment and/or neglect that exposes a child to physical injury or significant harm
  8. psychological/emotional abuse: Psychological or emotional abuse occurs when a child is repeatedly rejected, isolated, frightened by threats or witnesses family violence.  It also includes hostility, derogatory remarks or persistent coldness from a person, to the extent where the child is disturbed or their emotional development is at serious risk of being impaired
  9. sexual abuse: A child is sexually abused when any person uses authority or power over a child to engage in sexual activity.  It includes sexual offences and involves a wide range of sexual activity, including exposure to pornography
  10. staff: Members of the Academic or Professional staff, Executive or Honorary staff
  11. 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.