What Concerns Should Be Reported
According to the Commission for Children & Young People, A Guide for creating a Child Safe Organisation, concerns about the safety and wellbeing of children can range from an uncomfortable feeling through to a direct observation of abuse.
Staff, volunteers, children and families are encouraged to speak to someone if they have concerns and to be proactive. Staff and volunteers in an organisation need to be aware of their duty of care to children and of their other legal responsibilities.
Examples of child safety concerns include:
- Inappropriate or special relationships developing between staff or volunteers and children
- Breaches of the Code of Conduct, particularly if they are persistent
- Feelings of discomfort about interactions between a staff member or volunteer and a child
- Suspicions or beliefs that children are at risk of harm
- Observations of concerning changes in behaviour
- Concerns about a physical environment that may pose a risk to children (this includes health and hygiene issues)
- Children’s disclosures of abuse or harm, which must be reported to the police, DHHS, the Commission and, where appropriate, any other regulator.
When Should Concerns be Reported to the Police
Physical or sexual abuse of children is a crime and must be reported to the police. Family violence, whether or not a child has been physically or sexually abused, is serious, affects children in the family and often involves criminal behaviour. If a concern relates to family violence it should be reported to the police.
Reporting & Responding
According to the Commission for Children & Young People, A Guide for creating a Child Safe Organisation, having clear and well communicated procedures for raising a concern or allegation significantly increases the likelihood of concerns being reported.
Reporting can be difficult, so these procedures need to be child friendly and accessible to everyone in the organisation. The safety of the child and the risk of harm must always be an organisation’s primary consideration, with due regard for confidentiality and procedural fairness to the person against whom any allegation is made.
Organisations have a responsibility to encourage staff, volunteers and children to speak up when they are uncomfortable or concerned. When an organisation has a well-publicised reporting process that staff and volunteers are trained to use, it increases the likelihood that people will raise relevant and important issues about child safety. This process also encourages people to give helpful and important information that reduces the risk of all forms of harm to children, staff and volunteers.
How to Report or Resolve a Complaint
NV and its Affiliates encourages everyone who is involved in netball activities to voice their concerns regarding the safety and wellbeing of Members, particularly Children and Young People.
This complaint procedure sets out the steps involved to address Complaints, whether they relate to Children and Young People, Members, Participants or Persons in Positions of Responsibility and Authority. It also aims to provide advice and guidance to potential Complainants and Members and Persons in Positions in Responsibility and Authority when dealing with complaints.
This procedure can be found in the Netball Victoria Child Safety in Netball Policy – Section 3. The complaint procedure is broken down into two sections:
- Steps to Resolve Complaints – Involving Child Abuse and Sexual Misconduct or Serious Criminal Conduct.
- Steps to Resolve Complaints – NOT Involving Child Abuse and Sexual Misconduct or Serious Criminal Conduct.
The following links will take you to a flow chart that summarizes the step by step process according to the respective complaint type. Comprehensive guidelines for each step can be found in the Child Safety in Netball Policy in Part 3 – Complaints Procedure. Click here for more information.
Education and Awareness about Responding & Reporting
A child safe organisation encourages and welcomes the reporting of concerns, responds to complaints promptly, thoroughly and fairly, and immediately protects children at risk. When an organisation has a well-publicised reporting process that staff and volunteers are trained to use, it increases the likelihood that people will raise relevant and important issues about child safety. Education and awareness is key, here are some ideas to implement in your Netball Community.
- Ensure Posters are located in prominent areas indicating who in your organisation they can talk to if they have any concerns. – Click here for Posters (this will be available to add on Thursday I haven’t created them)
- Those in a position of responsibility should familiarize themselves with the complaint procedure. We have also created a “Tips and Scripts for complaint Conversations – click here to download a copy.
- Ensure the Netball Victoria Child Safety in Netball Policy is on your website and make sure your netball community knows it exists and where to find it
- Ensure those is a position of responsibility attend NV Child Safe Training which if offered at various times throughout the year
- Have people in position of responsibility complete the Play by the Rules Child Protection Free Online Training. Click here to learn more.
- Appoint a dedicated Child Safety Officer who can manage complaints of this nature. People like lawyers, police officers, teachers etc in your netball families are often comfortable taking on a role like this