Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy

  1. Definitions of Abuse

In particular, the Gold Coast Hebrew Congregation (GCHC) is committed to safeguarding the children in our care from the following:

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any act in which a person with power or authority over a child (female or male) uses a child for sexual gratification. An abuser can be an adult, adolescent or older child.

Sexual abuse spans a range of contact and non-contact behaviour.

Non-contact behaviour includes:

  • making sexual comments (in person, through letters, by telephone, text messages or email).
  • voyeurism – including commenting on physical attractiveness.
  • exposing a child to pornography.
  • nudity – an abuser exposing parts of his/her body or the child’s body.

Contact behaviour includes:

  • fondling or kissing.
  • sexual penetration.
  • exploiting a child through prostitution.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse occurs when a parent or caregiver subjects a child to non-accidental physically aggressive acts. The abuser may inflict an injury intentionally or inadvertently as a result of physical punishment or the aggressive treatment of a child. Physically abusive behaviour includes (but is not limited to) shoving, hitting, slapping, shaking, throwing, punching, biting, burning and kicking.

Emotional or Psychological Abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse occurs when a caregiver or parent repeatedly rejects or threatens a child. Often there is a pattern of emotional or psychological abuse, rather than a single incident. Such abuse may involve humiliating, terrorising, name-calling, belittlement, inappropriate symbolic acts or continual coldness from the caregiver or parent, to an extent that results in significant damage to the child’s physical, intellectual or emotional wellbeing and development.

Neglect

Neglect occurs when a parent or caregiver fails to provide a child with the basic necessities of life. Such neglect includes the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical attention or supervision to the extent that the child’s health and development is, or is likely to be, significantly harmed.

Witnessing Family Violence

Witnessing family violence is a specific form of emotional or psychological abuse. Family violence is defined as violence between members of a family or extended family or those fulfilling the role of family in a child or young person’s life. Exposure to family violence places children and young people at increased risk of physical injury and harm and has a significant impact on their wellbeing and development.

  1. Position Descriptions

The GCHC requires all of our youth to maintain a complete set of position descriptions for all roles that leaders and Shlichim undertake. We require our youth group to maintain these descriptions so that every leader and Shaliach understands his or her responsibilities, the boundaries of his or her role and the expectations of him or her with regard to safeguarding children. As a minimum, the position description must outline the leader’s specific duties, as well as any specific safeguarding children requirements.

  1. Practice and Behaviour Guidelines

 Commitment

As part of your commitment to observing these practice and behaviour guidelines you will be required to sign an GCHC formal statement of commitment. Every youth group considers a failure to observe these guidelines as misconduct, and will take appropriate disciplinary action. Such disciplinary action may, depending on the seriousness of the misconduct, include suspension while matters are investigated and/or expulsion from the youth group. In addition to any internal disciplinary action, we will report to the police all instances in which a breach of the law has or may have occurred.

Exceptions

There may be exceptional situations where these guidelines do not apply, for example, in an emergency situation where the compliance of these guidelines would place another individual’s life in danger. However, it is crucial that, where possible, you seek authorisation from your Shaliach (or, if unavailable, from a member of your committee) prior to taking action that contravenes these guidelines and that you advise the Shaliach and the Committee as soon possible after any incident in which these guidelines are breached.

Breaches

Any breaches of the Practice and Behaviour Guidelines will be reviewed by the GCHC in conjunction with the youth group and depending upon the nature and seriousness of the breach, will be reported to the authorities (child protection and/or Police) as the GCHC is obliged to do by law.

The Guidelines

Our practice and behaviour guidelines address the major areas where you interact with the children who attend youth activities. We have developed these practice and behaviour guidelines to help you to safeguard participants from abuse or neglect.

Sexual Misconduct

The GCHC does not condone sexual conduct relating to any circumstances within an organised youth group activity. Sexual conduct, involving a person placed in a position of authority, whether consensual or not, may constitute sexual abuse. The GCHC recognises that consensual sexual conduct can still lead to sexual abuse and that consent does not necessarily obviate the definition of abuse.

Positive Guidance (Discipline)

 We strive to ensure that children participating in our activities are aware of the acceptable

limits of their behaviour so that we can provide a positive experience for all participants. However, there are times when leaders may be required to use appropriate techniques and behaviour management strategies to ensure:

  • an effective and positive environment.
  • the safety and/or wellbeing of children or leaders participating in our activities.

We require leaders to use strategies that are fair, respectful and appropriate to the developmental stage of the children or young people involved. The child or young person needs to be provided with clear directions and given an opportunity to redirect their misbehaviour in a positive manner.

Under no circumstances are leaders to take disciplinary action involving physical punishment or any form of treatment that could reasonably be considered as degrading, cruel, frightening or humiliating.

Adhering to Role Boundaries

Leaders must avoid acting outside the confines of their role as specified in their position description while running our youth group activities.

As a result all leaders:

  • must not provide unauthorised transportation to children (see below).
  • must not communicate with a child, whether by telephone, text message, email or over the Internet, in an improper manner (see below).
  • generally must not organise or agree to any contact with children outside of authorised youth group activities (see below).

If any leader becomes aware of a situation in which a young person requires assistance that is beyond the confines of that leader’s role, or beyond the scope of the youth group’s usual activities, they should at the earliest opportunity:

  • refer the matter to an appropriate support agency or
  • refer the child or young person to an appropriate support agency or
  • contact the child or young person’s parent or guardian and
  • notify the Management Committee of the GCHC.

Use of Language and Tone of Voice

Language and tone of voice used in the presence of children and young people should:

  • provide clear direction, boost their confidence, encourage and affirm them.
  • not be harmful to children – in this respect, avoiding language that is:
  • discriminatory, racist or sexist.
  • derogatory, belittling or negative, for example, by calling a child a ‘loser’ or telling them they are ‘too fat.’
  • intended to threaten or frighten a child.
  • profane or sexual.

Supervision

Leaders are responsible for supervising the young people who come to our youth group to ensure that those participants:

  • engage positively with our activities.
  • behave appropriately toward one another.
  • are in a safe environment and are protected from external threats.

Leaders are required to avoid one-to-one unsupervised situations with children and young people to whom we provide services, and (where possible) to conduct all activities and/or discussions with participants in view of other leaders. This is to better ensure the protection of the child and also protect leaders from any possible false allegation against them.

Photographs of Children and Young people

Under these guidelines participants are to be photographed by a leader while involved in our activities only if:

  • a member of the Committee or the Shaliach has granted prior and specific approval.
  • the context is directly related to participation in our activities.
  • the child is appropriately dressed and posed.
  • the image is taken in the presence of other leaders.
  • the participants parent(s)/guardian sanctions this.

Images are not to be distributed (including as an attachment to an email) to anyone outside the youth group other than the child photographed or their parent, without the parent’s and Committee’s knowledge and approval.

Images (digital or hard copy) are to be stored in a manner that prevents unauthorised access by others.

Images (digital or hard copy) are to be destroyed or deleted as soon as they are no longer required.

Images are not to be exhibited on any website without parental knowledge and approval, or such images must be presented in a manner that de-identifies the child or young person. Any caption or accompanying text may need to be checked so that it does not identify a child or young person if such identification is potentially detrimental.

Specific approval for photographs is to be determined on the release and disclaimer form that must be signed by parents/guardians prior to the start of any activity.

Physical Contact with Children and Young People

Any physical contact with children and young people must be appropriate to the delivery of

our activities, for example helping children put on life vests before going canoeing on summer camp, and based on the needs of the child or young person (such as to assist or comfort a distressed young person) rather than on the needs of leaders.

Under no circumstances should any leader have contact with children or young people participating in our activities that:

  • involves touching:
  • of genitals,
  • of buttocks,
  • of the breast area (female children),
  • that is other than as part of delivering medical or allied health services.
  • would appear to a reasonable observer to have a sexual connotation.
  • is intended to cause pain or distress to the child or young person, such as corporal.
  • is overly physical – as is, for example, wrestling, horseplay, tickling or other roughhousing.
  • is unnecessary – for example, assisting with toileting when a child does not require assistance.
  • is initiated against the wishes of the child or young person, except if such contact may be necessary to prevent injury to the child/young person or to others, in which case:
  • physical restraint should be a last resort.
  • the level of force used must be appropriate to the specific circumstances, and aimed solely at restraining the child or young person to prevent them causing harm to themselves or others.
  • the incident must be reported to the Committee (and where applicable, the Shaliach) as soon as possible.

Leaders are required to report to the Committee and the Shaliach any physical contact initiated by a child or young person that is sexual and/or inappropriate – for example, acts of physical or sexual aggression – as soon as possible to enable the situation to be managed in the interests of the safety of the child or young person, leaders and any other participants.

Transporting Children

Children and young people are to be transported only in circumstances that are directly related to the delivery of youth group activities – for example, driving the children to the ice-skating rink for an excursion.

Children are to be transported only with prior authorisation from the Shaliach or a member of the Committee and from the child’s parent/guardian. The only exception to the requirement to gain permission is where the leader and the participant are siblings. Gaining approval involves providing information about the proposed journey, including:

  • the form of transport proposed, such as private car, taxi, self-driven bus, bus with driver, train, plane or boat.
  • the reason for the journey.
  • the route to be followed, including any stops or side trips.
  • details of anyone who will be present during the journey other than our leaders who are involved in the activity.

Verbal permission (with a witness) is acceptable but written authorisation is preferred and encouraged. A sample transport authorisation form is included below.

A member of the Committee must sight the applicable ‘working with children’ check documentation and record relevant details using the GCHC’s ‘working with children check’ form prior to a leader running any activities for children or young people or having any contact with any children or young people. The record must be sent to the GCHC.

Each youth group is responsible for confirming the validity of WWCC and at the beginning of each year any pending renewals should be organised well in advance to ensure that no leader is working with children or young people with an expired WWCC.

Further information regarding the operation of ‘working with children’ checks can be obtained from:

Queensland Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian

Telephone: 07 3247 5145

Web: www.ccypcg.qld.gov.au/index.html

  1. Children’s’ Rights Statement

The GCHC believe that children who come to our youth group activities and camps should:

  • feel comfortable.
  • be cared for.
  • feel safe and be safe.

All leaders will do their best to make sure children in our care are protected from any harm:

  • It is not okay for anyone to hurt your feelings or your body.
  • It is okay for you to say NO to a leader if they ask you to do something that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • If you ever feel unsafe or uncomfortable we will listen to you and act to help you. It is always okay to tell someone if you are not feeling comfortable or safe or if you have been hurt.
  • If you are unhappy with the way you are being treated please tell a leader or a parent.
  1. Parent Guidelines

The GCHC is committed to creating a positive and safe environment during activities, camps and seminars so that all children can learn and develop.

We take the safety of your children very seriously, and have put in place guidelines to improve protection from child abuse and in the event of an incident make a timely and targeted response.

In consideration of this, we invite you as parents to be vigilant, talk to your child, hear what they say, make your own observations, and if you have concerns to bring them to our youth group or other place you may feel appropriate. Our contact details and the contact details of relevant state and federal government and NGO authorities are at the back of this document.

We call on parents/guardians whose children attend our youth group to please:

  • observe our guidelines for parents (see below).
  • read and understand the GCHC Safety Guidelines.
  • in the event of serious or ongoing breaches of these guidelines by any person, report the matter to the Shaliach or the leader in charge so that appropriate action can be taken.

Our Guidelines for Parents

Your participation and your children’s participation in our youth group is for their education and enjoyment. We believe that your role as parents is to support the movement by:

  • encouraging your child’s participation in a positive and respectful manner.
  • advising your child’s leader of any special needs that they may have, or develop during the course of the program (for example, they may suffer from asthma or allergies, or have hearing difficulties), so that we can safely allow them to take part in activities.
  • engaging with the leaders positively; not criticising leaders in the presence of your child     and reporting any concerns you have to our Shaliach or to the leader in charge.
  • ensuring that your child is picked up on time at the conclusion of an activity.
  • arranging with the Shaliach or leader in charge prior to an activity if your child is to be picked up by a person unknown to any of the leaders, and completing an transport authorisation form.
  • engaging with children other than your own in a positive and respectful manner and not engaging in behaviour designed to belittle, insult or intimidate them.
  • not engaging in, or threatening to engage in, violent or physical confrontations with any other person involved in our youth group.
  • not encouraging or inciting your child to commit violent acts or to breach youth group rules.
  • advising our Shaliach or leader in charge of any changes in contact information for use in the event of an emergency.

Serious or ongoing breaches of these guidelines are not tolerated. Parents who breach our guidelines may have their children asked to leave the youth group. The safety of your children is of our highest priority.

We seek to create an open environment between parents and the Committee of the Movement to ensure the safety of your children at all times.

  1. Responding to Child Abuse Reports and Allegations

 Introduction

The GCHC is committed to protecting all children and young people who attend youth activities. Accordingly we have developed this policy on how to respond to child abuse reports and allegations as a guide to all leaders in meeting their responsibilities in this area. Our leaders are required to identify, report and respond to any concerns about, or incidents of, child abuse or neglect towards children or young people who attend our youth group. Leaders are required to respond to abuse or neglect perpetrated by any personnel within a youth group or by other persons outside the youth group.

Endorsement

We take seriously our responsibility to deliver an educational and social environment that is caring, nurturing and safe. The GCHC is committed to ensuring the safety of all children and young people who attend our youth activities.

Scope

All leaders within a youth group are required to meet the requirements of our policy on responding to child abuse reports and allegations. No one within a youth group is exempt from meeting the standards and requirements set out in this policy.

Defining Abuse and Neglect

The GCHC is committed to safeguarding the children and young people in our care from abuse in any form, as defined above in section 1.

Child abuse is an act by an adult that places a child in danger or causes significant harm to a child’s wellbeing. A person committing child abuse may act intentionally to cause harm to a child or may fail to act to prevent harm.

Child abuse can be emotional/psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect and a child may experience one or more forms of abuse.

Many factors influence our beliefs about what behaviour constitutes child abuse and neglect the appropriate treatment of children.

For example:

  • experiences during childhood.
  • social and cultural expectations about raising children.
  • our experience as parents.
  • cultural and religious beliefs.
  • personal ethics and values.
  • education, training and work experience.
  • knowledge of laws and regulations.

While the definition of child abuse helps to recognise abusive or neglectful behaviour, the abusive treatment of a child or young person commonly occurs in secret.

Children and young people are unlikely to tell you that they are experiencing abuse. They are more likely to express their distress via behaviour and physical signs. Therefore we recognise that it is important to be aware of the signs or indicators of abuse. Some signs of abuse are obvious and some are subtle and hard to detect. We recognise that one may need to observe and identify patterns of behaviour over a period of time.

Responsibilities

Our leaders are required to report any instance of serious abuse or neglect (cases in which a child or young person has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm from abuse or neglect) immediately or, if that is not possible, no later than before the end of the activity that the leader is currently running.

In taking a report of concern, or of an incident from others within the youth group, our leaders are:

  • not to assess the validity of such allegations or concerns, but to report all allegations or concerns to the Shaliach (or where there is no Shaliach, to the Head of the Committee) as described in this policy). The validity of an allegation will then be assessed in the manner described in this policy.
  • to disregard factors such as the authority or position of the persons involved and any pre-existing views about the good character, or otherwise, of any person involved or under investigation.

Similarly, our leaders are obliged to raise any concerns they might have in relation to:

  • the GCHC policies designed to safeguard children and young people, as outlined in our ‘Practice and Behaviour Guidelines’.
  • actions of other leaders within the youth movement that contravene our policies, or that may otherwise have the potential to harm a child or young person.

Some leaders may also be subject to mandatory reporting requirements by the law of Qld. State.

Consequences of Breaching Policy

If a leader fails to report instances, allegations, disclosures or concerns in relation to abuse or neglect of a child or young person – by leader within the youth group or by others – we view such failure as a serious matter that, depending on the circumstances, may result in disciplinary action or expulsion from the youth movement. Police and/or other authorities may be notified.

As reporting differs across Australia’s States and Territories, in the interests of avoiding confusion, the GCHC has determined a standard policy of reporting in all States and Territories. Mandatory reporting should not be confused with the right, or obligation of any citizen, employee or volunteer to report suspected child abuse.

Concerns or Allegations Regarding Abuse or Neglect by Family or Other External Sources

All leaders are required to report any instance of child abuse or neglect that has resulted in, or is likely to result in, significant harm to a child or young person, to statutory child protection authorities and to the Shaliach (if there is one) and to the Head of the Committee.

While leaders retain the right to report any concern or allegation directly to the relevant Authorities, we ask that they also inform the Shaliach (if there is one) and the Head of the Committee of any report they make to the relevant authorities, to enable the youth movement to best provide support to the child or young person and his/her family, where appropriate.

If a child or young person is at imminent risk of harm or in immediate danger, our leaders are required to report the situation directly to the state child protection authority or the police.

In situations where a child or young person is making an allegation, leaders are required to:

  • listen to the allegation or disclosure supportively, without dispute.
  • clarify the basic details, without seeking detailed information or asking suggestive or leading questions, using the GCHC’s ‘Record of a Child Abuse Allegation, Disclosure or   Concern’ form as a guide.
  • take notes as best as you can aiming to record the child’s words, descriptions, terms etc.,   as accurately as possible.
  • transcribe notes to record (keep original notes) on the form of what was said (where     possible, noting the exact words used by the person making the allegation) any of the   particulars relating to the abuse, e.g., place, time, any physical features that stand out, any other persons or pets, any special terms the perpetrator used, anything they can recall is all of importance.
  •    date and sign the record.
  •   explain to the child that other people may need to be told, in order to stop what is happening.
  •    provide reassurance that the youth group will take immediate action in response to the allegation.

In situations where leaders become aware of abuse through observation of potential indicators, such as bruises or cuts, or by directly observing potentially abusive behaviour towards a child or young person, leaders are required to use the GCHC’s ‘Record of a Child Abuse Allegation, Disclosure or Concern’ form to record their observations and concerns as accurately as possible.

The Shaliach or (where there is none) the Head of the Committee will oversee creation of a file to contain the completed ‘Record of a Child Abuse Allegation, Disclosure or Concern’ form, and any other documentation relating to the allegation and subsequent action.

So as to prevent access by unauthorised persons, the youth group must store any documentation associated with an allegation of abuse, or neglect of a child or young person by having:

  • hard-copy documentation stored in a locked filing cabinet (or similar).
  • electronic documentation stored in a password-protected folder (or similar).

Concerns or Allegations of Abuse or Neglect on the Part of our Employees or Volunteers

All personnel must report, immediately, to the Shaliach (if there is one) and the Head of the Committee any instance, allegation, disclosure or reasonable concern of abuse or neglect of a child or young person arising from an action by a leader.

If a child or young person is at imminent risk of harm or in immediate danger, leaders are required to report the situation directly to the state child protection authority or the police.

In situations where a child or young person is making an allegation, leaders are required to:

  • listen to the allegation or disclosure supportively, without dispute.
  • clarify the basic details, without seeking detailed information or asking suggestive or leading questions, using the GCHC’s ‘Record Of A Child Abuse Allegation, Disclosure or Concern’ form as a guide.
  • record on the form what was said (where possible, noting the exact words used by the person making the allegation).
  • date and sign the record.
  • explain to the child (if present) that other people may need to be told, in order to stop what is happening.
  • provide reassurance that the youth group will take immediate action in response to the allegation. In response to any instance of ‘serious’ abuse or neglect (‘serious’ being cases in which the abuse or neglect has resulted in, or is likely to result in, significant harm to a child or young person), our Shaliach or the Head of our Committee will ensure that the incident is reported to:
  • the police and/or the state child protection authority, immediately.
  • the GCHC and the Australian Childhood Foundation, within 28 days, in accordance with the requirements of the GCHC’s Safeguarding Children Program. Leaders should note that any internal reporting itself should not delay, adversely influence or reinterpret the first witnesses account, or decision to make the report, in any way. Mandatory reporting laws are unequivocal in making the first witness legally responsible for making the report, and assumes no interference from employees or colleagues etc.

Queensland Child Safety Services

Telephone (business hours – Brisbane): 1300 682 254

Telephone (after hours): 1800 177 135 or 3235 9999

Commission for Children and Young Guardian

Telephone: 07 3247 5145

Web: wwwccypcg.qld.gov.au/index.html

Our Shaliach and/or the Head of our Committee will investigate and take reasonable steps to deal with allegations of ‘less serious’ instances of abuse or neglect.

If an allegation has been made against a leader, the Shaliach (if present) or the Head of the Committee will:

  • take any action necessary to safeguard the child or young person (or other children or young people in our care) from additional harm through options such as:
  • putting that leader in a position where they do not work with children.
  • additional supervision of that leader.
  • removing/suspending that leader until the validity of the allegations is determined.
  • address the support needs of the leader against whom the complaint is made by, for example, offering professional counselling.
  • make clear to all other leaders who are aware of the allegation that:
  • the allegation does not mean the person is guilty, and that the allegation will be properly investigated.
  • they are not to discuss the matter with any person, except as directed by police, child protection authorities and/or our Shaliach or the Head of the Committee and only in direct relation to investigation of the allegation.

Our Shaliach or (if no Shaliach is present) the Head of the Committee will oversee creation of a file to contain the completed ‘Record of a child abuse allegation, disclosure or concern’ form, and any other documentation relating to the allegation and subsequent action.

So as to prevent access by unauthorised persons, the GCHC Committee will store any documentation associated with an allegation of abuse or neglect of a child or young person by having:

  • hard-copy documentation stored in a locked filing cabinet (or similar).
  • electronic documentation stored in a password-protected folder (or similar).

Confidentiality and Privacy

The GCHC and the youth group under it will maintain the confidentiality and privacy of all concerned (including the alleged perpetrator), except if doing so would compromise the welfare of the child or young person and/or investigation of the allegation.

Documentation

As part of our policy for responding to reports or allegations of child abuse, we have developed a ‘Record of Child Abuse Allegation, Disclosure or Concern’ form, which is to be used by any of our people to document any allegation, disclosure, incident or concern regarding child abuse.

(Subject to correction if necessary and or advised by the QJBD or legal representative).