At St. Peter’s School, Clayton, we hold the care, safety and wellbeing of children and young people as a central and fundamental responsibility of our school. Our commitment is drawn from and inherent in the teaching and mission of Jesus Christ, with love, justice and the sanctity of each human person at the heart of the gospel (CECV Commitment Statement to Child Safety).
The person of each individual human being, in his or her material and spiritual needs, is at the heart of Christ’s teaching: that is why the promotion of the human person is the goal of the Catholic school (Congregation for Catholic Education 1997, n. 9
The purpose of this policy is to provide mechanisms for the selection of suitable volunteers to work with children on site and when away from the school, such as when on school excursions.
Catholic schools have a moral, legal and mission-driven responsibility to create nurturing school environments where children and young people are respected, their voices are heard and they are safe and feel safe (CECV Commitment Statement to Child Safety).
The following principles underpin our commitment to child safety at St. Peter’s School, Clayton:
• All students deserve, as a fundamental right, safety and protection from all forms of abuse and neglect.
• Our school works in partnership with families and the community to ensure that they are engaged in decision-making processes, particularly those that have an impact on child safety and protection.
• All students have the right to a thorough and systematic education in all aspects of personal safety, in partnership with their parents/guardians/caregivers.
All adults in our school, including teaching and non-teaching staff, clergy, volunteers, and contractors, have a responsibility to care for children and young people, to positively promote their wellbeing and to protect them from any kind of harm or abuse.
1. St Peter’s School recruits volunteers on a proactive basis, with the intent of encouraging and broadening volunteer involvement from the local and parish community as well as school families.
2. Volunteers may be recruited either through:
• interest in a specific task or job
• general interest in volunteering which is then matched with a set of
mutually agreeable tasks.
3. St. Peter’s uses a variety of means to recruit volunteers including information in enrolment packages for new students, seeking expressions of interest in the school newsletter or parish bulletin, and word of mouth. Wherever possible, communications seeking volunteers should demonstrate the school’s commitment to safeguarding children.
4. Any written communications will inform potential volunteers of the requirement to hold or be willing to acquire a Working with Children Check together with a statement of the school’s commitment to keep children safe: ‘This school community promotes the safety, wellbeing and inclusion of all children.’
Description of Volunteer
Role and Responsibilities of Volunteer Form
The school must ensure that, where volunteers are involved in child-connected work, a clear statement or description of the role is prepared that sets out:
• the role’s requirements, duties and responsibilities regarding child safety (e.g. if a volunteer is engaged to accompany students on an excursion, the requirements, duties and responsibilities regarding child safety would include monitoring and supervision of children’s lunch);
• essential or relevant qualifications, experience and attributes in relation to child safety (e.g. if a volunteer is engaged for a function, he or she may be required to have gained a Food Handlers’ Certificate dependent on the preparation and handling of food required).
Existing statements or descriptions of the volunteer role should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that it accurately reflects the role in consideration of the ongoing needs of the school.
St. Peter’s will prepare a Description of Volunteer Role for volunteer roles at the
School as these become necessary, including one-off or occasional roles (e.g. school excursion assistant, school fete worker). Volunteers should be briefed about the types of expectations that the school has in relation to this voluntary role.
5. All potential volunteers must complete a Volunteer Application Form (see appendix 1)
6. The School will gather, verify and record references that address the person’s suitability for the job and working with children. For this reason, the Volunteer Application Form will require the potential volunteer to list at least two referees who are capable of
addressing these matters.
7. Referees will be contacted by the Principal, a member of the Leadership Team or a delegated staff member.
8. Interviews with potential volunteers will address the school’s Child Safe Policy and expectations of adults and their behaviour. The Principal or delegate may conduct this interview, seeking to ensure that the applicant’s suitability is assessed. Records of interviews and documentation of applications will be kept in the school’s record system.
9. Volunteers who are deemed suitable will be sent a letter which accepts their offer to volunteer, together with a copy of the Child Safe Policy and the ‘Principles for adults’ behaviour’, within this policy, for their perusal.
10. Unsuccessful applicants will be thanked for their offer and be advised that, at this time, their assistance is not required.
11. Board members who have volunteered will participate in ongoing induction, provided by the Principal, upon commencement in that role, and at least once annually thereafter.
Principles for adults’ behaviour
lt’s behaviour in undertaking child-connected work
Some simple principles should guide an adult’s behaviour when undertaking child-connected work such as:
• the adult/child relationship should be professional at all times
• an adult’s response to a child’s behaviour or circumstance should be commensurate with the child’s age and vulnerability and the adult’s responsibility for the care, safety and welfare of the child
• an adult should not be alone with a child unless there is line of sight to other adults
• an adult should not initiate or seek physical contact or contact with children outside school.
Acceptable and unacceptable behaviours
The followings lists provide examples of statements about acceptable and unacceptable behaviours which could be included in a school’s code of conduct. The lists are not intended to be exhaustive, but may assist schools when customising their codes of conduct to the expectations and needs of their own communities.
All staff, volunteers and board/school council members are responsible for supporting the safety of children by:
• adhering to the school’s child safe policy and upholding the school’s statement of commitment to child safety at all times
• taking all reasonable steps to protect children from abuse
• treating everyone in the school community with respect
• listening and responding to the views and concerns of children, particularly if they are telling you that they or another child has been abused or that they are worried about their safety/the safety of another child
• promoting the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (for example, by never questioning an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child’s self-identification)
• promoting the cultural safety, participation and empowerment of children with culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds (for example, by having a zero tolerance of discrimination)
• promoting the safety, participation and empowerment of children with a disability (for example, during personal care activities)
• ensuring as far as practicable that adults are not alone with a child
• reporting any allegations of child abuse to the school’s leadership (or child safety officer if the school has appointed someone to this role)
• understanding and complying with all reporting obligations as they relate to mandatory reporting and reporting under the Crimes Act 1958
• reporting any child safety concerns to the school’s leadership (or child safety officer if the school has appointed someone to this role)
• if an allegation of child abuse is made, ensuring as quickly as possible that the child(ren) are safe
• reporting to the Victorian Institute of Teaching any charges, committals for trial or convictions in relation to a sexual office by a registered teacher, or certain allegations or concerns about a registered teacher.
Staff and volunteers must not:
• ignore or disregard any suspected or disclosed child abuse
• develop any ‘special’ relationships with children that could be seen as favouritism (for example, the offering of gifts or special treatment for specific children)
• exhibit behaviours with children which may be construed as unnecessarily physical (for example inappropriate sitting on laps)
• put children at risk of abuse (for example, by locking doors)
• initiate unnecessary physical contact which children or do things of a personal nature that a child can do for themselves, such as toileting or changing clothes
• engage in open discussions of a mature or adult nature in the presence of children (for example, personal social activities)
• use inappropriate language in the presence of children
• express personal views on cultures, race or sexuality in the presence of children
• discriminate against any child, including because of age, gender, race, culture, vulnerability, sexuality, ethnicity or disability
• have contact with a child or their family outside of school without the Principal’s knowledge and/or consent (for example, unauthorised after hours tutoring, private instrumental/other lessons or sport coaching). Accidental contact, such as seeing people in the street, is appropriate.
• have any online contact with a child (including by social media, email, instant messaging etc.) or their family (unless necessary e.g. by providing families with e-newsletters or assisting students with their school work)
• use any personal communication channels/device such as a personal email account to communicate with a child or family
• exchange personal contact details such as phone number, social networking sites or email addresses with children
• photograph or video a child without the consent of the parent or guardians
• work with children whilst under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
• consume alcohol or drugs at school or at school events in the presence of children.