Ensuring an organisation meets Child Protection Standards requires a process of culture change encompassing the whole organisation.
Since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, organisations have been implementing the recommendations to meet Child Safe standards. This includes many faith based organisations we work with from our personal understanding of the importance of faith as a guide in meeting Child Protection standards.
What is important about the Church’s National Child Safety Office report in December 2020 is the recognition of the ongoing nature of the process. They say they are “constantly learning from experts [to] improve our practices, protocols and …. change the culture”.
Why changing culture is important
Effective child protection relies on actions not just words. Having words in a policy does not go far enough to protecting children. Staff who live and breathe the details of those policies in every interaction with children will protect children. That’s about culture.
Setting the culture of your organisation involves having the right policies in place which then create effective processes. It also means that everyone champions child safe behaviours. Management, team members, casual staff, cooks and cleaners all have their eyes and ears open whenever they are with children. They see, hear and understand what they are seeing, noticing any possible concerns. It means all staff are empowered and able to take action on those concerns. They know who to report to and what to do.
It means parents and anyone else entering your buildings or spaces know that child protection is important. They can see and feel assured that everything you are doing is protecting their children. We can further encourage this assurance by encouraging parents and volunteers to complete our New South Wales or Queensland Community Child Protection course to be informed themselves.
Culture change is about living and breathing your policies, not just having them on a shelf. It’s like a sausage at Bunnings on a Saturday or rain in England – where there is one there is the other.
Culture Does Not Stop at the Door
Church reports to the National Office for Child Safety recognise the importance of the whole community working towards safe environments. There is a link between organisations and the communities they operate in. These links are fundamental to our wide range of training. We aim to guide not just staff but parents and the communities they live in. Doing this means a holistic child protection approach.
What does a holistic approach look like?
CarersEd consult with services to ensure their Child Protection policies and procedures meet Child Safe and legislative requirements because they are forever changing . We train staff so they know and are able to action what is in policy. Carers Ed make sure with that knowledge they also have skills and confidence to report
We then go further through additional training in Safety Networks, and Responding to Disclosure for NSW and Queensland. Our responding to disclosure course does not shy away from talking about tough subjects with staff. In a safe and empowering way, we talk about how children may disclose, what staff should and should not do. We look at how to make children feel safe in that moment of trust with a staff member. We connect staff back to their leaders and directors, so they also feel safe. This is not just a theoretical exercise where staff sit and listen; it is a discussion of real life possibilities so they are prepared and confident. This is about empowerment to look after children and for children to recognise their own need for safety, Most importantly children are empowered to know what to do if they are not feeling safe.
We offer training for the parent community so that they can recognise practices that make their children safe, as well as those that may create risk. Empowered parents can then protect their children, as well as be the eyes and ears in the community. Empowered parents can suggest changes to practices if they see something that makes them worry.
CarersEd is never satisfied that professional standards are a ‘ticking a box’ exercise. We believe that standards need to impact the whole of the organisation. Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, a former auxiliary bishop of Sydney insisted that in the “Professional Standards” area we can never “tick the box”. Instead he states we must always be vigilant and improving our systems. We ensure we remain up to date with the ever changing child protection landscape and bring this understanding to the organisations we work with.
Carers Ed has designed a multi layer training program for our local Dance school. We train = staff with our New South Wales and Queensland Child Protection Mandatory Reporter Training which encompasses child protection reporting responsibilities and safe practices with students. We extended this by offering New South Wales and Queensland Safe Help for Dance Training to all parent volunteers and provided the general parent community Safety Networks training so that they could work with their children to create their own safety network. This multi-level approach ensured the whole of the Dance School was involved in the change of culture to ensure children were protected.
How CarersEd Helps
Carers Ed partners with organisations to provide guidance in developing Child Protection procedures and changing culture.
We have multiple engagement strategies like training for:
- parents and carers.
We also offer ongoing consultancy for continual improvement or for those situations when organisations find themselves in a crisis with one of their organisational standards challenged. Contact us for this personalised consultancy or to book our training online to ensure your organisational culture is one that protects children.