The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all staff and members of our school community understand the various legal and other reporting obligations related to child safety that apply to Chum Creek Primary School. The specific procedures that are applicable at our school are contained at Appendix A.
This policy applies to all school staff, volunteers and school community members. It also applies to all staff and students engaged in any school and school council-run events, activities and services such as Outside School Hours Care.
All children and young people have the right to protection in their best interests.
Chum Creek Primary School understands the important role our school plays in protecting children from abuse including:
The staff at Chum Creek Primary School are required by law to comply with various child safety reporting obligations. For detailed information about each obligation, please refer to Identifying and Responding to All Forms of Abuse in Victorian Schools.
At Chum Creek Primary School we also recognise the diversity of the children and young people at our school and take account of their individual needs and backgrounds when considering child safety.
The following individuals are mandatory reporters under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic):
All mandatory reporters must make a report to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Child Protection as soon as practicable if, during the course of carrying out their professional roles and responsibilities, they form a belief on reasonable grounds that:
A mandatory reporter who fails to comply with this legal obligation may be committing a criminal offence. It is important for all staff at Chum Creek Primary School to be aware that they are legally obliged to make a mandatory report on each occasion that they form a reasonable belief that a child is in need of protection and they must make a mandatory report even if the principal does not share their belief that a report is necessary.
At our school, all mandated school staff must undertake the Mandatory Reporting and Other Obligations eLearning Module annually. [OPTIONAL: We also require/encourage all other staff to undertake this module, even where they are not mandatory reporters].
For more information about Mandatory Reporting see the Department’s Policy and Advisory Library: Protecting Children — Reporting and Other Legal Obligations.
Any person can make a report to DHHS Child Protection (131 278 – 24 hour service) if they believe on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection.
The policy of the Department of Education and Training (DET) requires all staff who form a reasonable belief that a child is in need of protection to report their concerns to DHHS or Victoria Police, and discuss their concerns with the school leadership team.
For more information about making a report to DHHS Child Protection, see the Department’s Policy and Advisory Library: Protecting Children — Reporting and Other Legal Obligations and Four Critical Actions for Schools: Responding to Incidents, Disclosures and Suspicions of Child Abuse.
At Chum Creek Primary School we also encourage all staff to make a referral to Child FIRST when they have significant concern for a child’s wellbeing. For more information about making a referral to Child FIRST see the Policy and Advisory Library: Protecting Children – Reporting and Other Legal Obligations .
Our school must notify the Department’s Employee Conduct Branch (9637 2594) if we become aware of an allegation of ‘reportable conduct’.
There is an allegation of reportable conduct where a person has formed a reasonable belief that there has been:
The Department, through the Employee Conduct Branch, has a legal obligation to inform the Commission for Children and Young People when an allegation of reportable conduct is made.
Our principal must notify the Department’s Employee Conduct Branch of any reportable conduct allegations involving current or former teachers, contractors, volunteers (including parents), allied health staff and school council employees.
If school staff become aware of reportable conduct by any person in the above positions, they should notify the school principal immediately. If the allegation relates to the principal, they should notify the Regional Director.
For more information about Reportable Conduct see the Department’s Policy and Advisory Library: Reportable Conduct.
Reporting child sexual abuse is a community-wide responsibility. All adults (ie persons aged 18 years and over), not just professionals who work with children, have a legal obligation to report to Victoria Police, as soon as practicable, where they form a ‘reasonable belief’ that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child under the age of 16 by another person aged 18 years or over.
Failure to disclose information to Victoria Police (by calling 000 or local police station) as soon as practicable may amount to a criminal offence unless a person has a ‘reasonable excuse’ or exemption from doing so.
“Reasonable belief” is not the same as having proof. A ‘reasonable belief’ is formed if a reasonable person in the same position would have formed the belief on the same grounds.
For example, a ‘reasonable belief’ might be formed when:
“Reasonable excuse” is defined by law and includes:
This reporting obligation applies to school staff in a position of authority. This can include principals, assistant principals and campus principals. Any staff member in a position of authority who becomes aware that an adult associated with their school (such as an employee, contractor, volunteer or visitor) poses a risk of sexual abuse to a child under the age of 16 under their care, authority or supervision, must take all reasonable steps to remove or reduce that risk.
This may include removing the adult (ie persons aged 18 years and over) from working with children pending an investigation and reporting your concerns to Victoria Police.
If a school staff member in a position of authority fails to take reasonable steps in these circumstances, this may amount to a criminal offence.
Grooming is a criminal offence under the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic). This offence targets predatory conduct undertaken by an adult to prepare a child, under the age of 16, to engage in sexual activity at a later time. Grooming can include communicating and/or attempting to befriend or establish a relationship or other emotional connection with the child or their parent/carer.
For more information about these offences and reporting obligations see: Protecting Children — Reporting and Other Legal Obligations.
Statement of Commitment to Child Safety, Child Safety Policy etc]
This policy was last updated in June 2021 and is scheduled for review in June 2025.
When managing a disclosure you should:
When managing a disclosure you should AVOID:
Our school will follow the Four Critical Actions for Schools: Responding to Incidents, Disclosures and Suspicions of Child Abuse (Four Critical Actions) when responding to incidents, disclosures and suspicions of child abuse.
All staff at our school who believe that a child is in need of protection, even if it doesn’t meet the threshold required for mandatory reporting or the staff member is not a mandatory reporter, should in the first instance, speak to the Principal or should make the required reports to DHHS Child Protection and/or Victoria Police as necessary.
At our school the Principal will be responsible for monitoring overall school compliance with this procedure.
Nothing in this procedure prevents a staff member or any other person from reporting to the relevant authorities if they form a reasonable belief that a child is at risk of abuse.
Responsibilities of all school staff
If a school staff member reasonably suspects or witnesses an incident of child abuse or receives a disclosure of child abuse, they must:
If the staff member has formed a ‘reasonable belief’ that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child, they must ensure that a report to Victoria Police has been made by the Principal. If the report has not been made by another staff member, the staff member must make the report.
In circumstances where a member of the leadership team disagrees that a report needs to be made, but the staff member has formed a ‘reasonable belief’ that the child is in need of protection and/or has been the victim of sexual abuse, the staff member must still contact DHHS Child Protection and/or Victoria Police to make the report.
Responsibilities of the principal.
The principal is responsible for promptly managing the school’s response to an incident, suspicion or disclosure of child abuse, and ensuring that the incident, suspicion or disclosure is taken seriously. The principal is also responsible for responding appropriately to a child who makes or is affected by an allegation of child abuse.
If the principal receives a report from a school staff member or member of the school community of a suspicion, disclosure or incident of child abuse, they must:
o Responding to an emergency
o Reporting to authorities/referring to services
o Contacting parents/carers and
o Providing ongoing support.
If the principal/other nominated staff member responsible above is unavailable, the most senior remaining staff member will take on the role and responsibilities described in this section.
Fulfilling the requirements in this procedure does not displace or discharge any other obligations that arise if a person reasonably believes that a child is at risk of abuse.
All staff have a duty of care to take reasonable steps to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to students. All staff must ensure that the principal or other appropriate staff member is aware of any incidents, suspicions or disclosures of child abuse as soon as possible after they occur. This will allow appropriate supports to be put in place for the student affected.
All community members aged 18 years or over should be aware of their legal obligations – see Failure to disclose offence above, in this Policy.
Any person can make a report to DHHS Child Protection if they believe on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection. For contact details see the Four Critical Actions – https://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/about/programs/health/protect/FourCriticalActions_ChildAbuse.pdf
[Optional: There is no requirement for community members to inform the school if they are making a disclosure to DHHS Child Protection or the Victoria Police. However, where a community member is concerned about the safety of a child or children at the school, and where disclosure of that concern will not compromise any potential police investigation, the community member should report this concern to the principal so that appropriate steps to support the student can be taken.]