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Child Safety and Child Abuse Response and Reporting procedure

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Section 1 - Preamble

(1) This Procedure is effective from 18 October 2018.

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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) This Procedure is pursuant to the Child Safety policy

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Section 5 - Procedure

Child abuse reporting obligations

(5) The University recognises that the safety of children is everyone’s concern. All students, staff and associates who believe on reasonable grounds that a child needs protection from child abuse should report their concerns to external authorities as soon as possible. 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). In addition, the child abuse concern must be reported within the University if the concern relates to a child who is a student, staff member or associate of the University and/or comes to the attention of a staff member, student or associate in the course of their employment, study or other connection to the University.

(6) 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

(7) Students, staff or associates may have reasonable grounds for believing a child is in need of protection in any of the following circumstances:

  1. physical abuse of, or non-accidental or unexplained injury to, a child;
  2. a disclosure of sexual abuse by a child or witness, or a combination of factors suggesting the likelihood of sexual abuse – the child exhibiting concerning behaviours, for example, where a known or suspected perpetrator has unsupervised contact with the child;
  3. emotional or psychological abuse and ill treatment of a child – impacting on the child’s stability and healthy development;
  4. persistent neglect, poor care or lack of appropriate supervision – where there is a likelihood of significant harm to the child, or the child’s stability and development;
  5. persistent family violence or parental substance misuse, psychiatric illness or intellectual disability – where there is a likelihood of significant harm to the child, or the child’s stability and development;
  6. where a child’s actions or behaviour may place them at risk of significant harm and the child’s parents are unwilling, or unable to protect the child;
  7. where a child appears to have been abandoned, or where the child’s parents are dead or incapacitated and no other person is caring properly for the child;
  8. grooming of a child under 16 years of age by a person over 18 years of age.
Child Protection recognises that many cases will not fit neatly into these categories and any other reasonable concerns about significant harm to a child can be reported to and discussed with Child Protection as outlined in the clauses below.

(8) 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

(9) If a child is at risk of life-threatening harm, a student, staff member or associate should telephone the police immediately on 000. If there is a risk to the immediate safety of the child (non-life-threatening) the student, staff member or associate should immediately telephone Child Protection in their local government area (business hours) or the Child Protection Crisis Line after hours on 13 12 78. If the life-threatening or other immediate risk is occurring on campus, they should also telephone Deakin Security on 1800 062 579.

(10) In relation to all child abuse concerns, students, staff and associates must:

  1. report their child abuse concerns to external authorities as soon as possible. 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 (contact your local police station) as they may constitute criminal offences (with limited exceptions). Child Protection must be contacted for all suspected child abuse matters and for reporting by mandated reporters; and
  2. contact a Deakin Child Safe Adviser as soon as possible to report their concern if it relates to a child who is a student, staff member or associate of the University and/or comes to their attention in the course of their employment, study or other connection to the University. Contact details for Child Safe Advisers are provided on the University’s Child Safe Standards staff wiki page and the University’s public Child Safety webpage.

(11) Staff may seek support from their manager or supervisor in reporting their child abuse concern.

(12) Child students, staff or associates who are concerned about their own safety are encouraged to seek help and support by contacting a Deakin Child Safe Adviser or, if there is an immediate risk, by contacting the police, Child Protection and/or Deakin Security first, as outlined in clause 9 above. 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.

(13) A flowchart of the reporting process is available on the Child Safety webpage.

Role of Child Safe Advisers

(14) Child Safe Advisers are responsible for receiving and recording reports of child abuse concerns from students, staff and associates, providing appropriate referrals for external reporting (if not already undertaken) and support, and notifying relevant University staff as outlined below. (Contact details for Child Safe Advisers are provided on the University’s Child Safe Standards staff wiki page and the University’s public Child Safety webpage).

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

  1. checking that an external report has been made as appropriate, and if it has not been made, explaining to and supporting the informant to make an external report, if required;
  2. providing referrals for support for an affected child who is a student, staff member or associate of the University and for the informant and any other impacted students, staff or associates, as required;
  3. 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;
  4. completing a Child Safe Critical Incident Report to record key information in relation to the child abuse concern as soon as possible;
  5. informing the University Solicitor and Director, Diversity and Inclusion 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 relevant conversations, disclosures and of all follow-up actions.

(16) 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 72 hours. Action may be taken against the staff member or associate as appropriate and in accordance with the Staff Discipline policy.

(17) If information is received alleging a student has abused a child, the Child Safe Critical Incident Report will be provided to the Chair of the relevant Student Misconduct Committee by the Child Safe Adviser as soon as practicable, and within 72 hours. Action may be taken against the student in accordance with the Student General Misconduct procedure.

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Section 6 - Definitions

(18) For the purpose of this Procedure:

  1. associates: as defined in the Child Safety policy.
  2. child: as defined in the Child Safety policy.
  3. child abuse: as defined in the Child Safety policy.
  4. Child Safe Adviser: Safer Community Services team members, Senior Student Advisers and other designated and trained staff who are responsible for receiving and recording reports of child abuse concerns from students, staff members and associates, providing referrals for external reporting (as appropriate) and support, and notifying relevant University staff.
  5. 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.
  6. grooming: grooming is an offence under section 49M of the Crimes Act 1958 and occurs when a person over 18 years of age undertakes predatory conduct to prepare a child under 16 years of age for sexual activity at a later time. Grooming occurs where the adult communicates, by words or conduct, with the child under the age of 16 years or with a person who has care, supervision or authority for the child with the intention of facilitating the child’s involvement in sexual conduct, either with the groomer or another adult. Grooming does not necessarily involve any sexual activity or even discussion of sexual activity – for example, it may only involve establishing a relationship with the child, parent or carer for the purpose of facilitating sexual activity at a later time.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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 and grooming.
  12. staff: as defined in the Child Safety policy.
  13. 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.