FINDING THE PROVIDER WHO WILL PROVIDE A SAFE AND POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUR CHILD.

UNDERSTANDING ABOUT POLICIES, LEGISLATION THAT ENSURE CHILDREN ARE SAFE

Providers’ that endorse safety develop a number of policies and procedures to promote child safety, reduce risk and ensure appropriate actions are taken when concerns are raised. They also provide clear and accessible information about them.
We know that you probably expect that providers do have checks and balances in place and many will but some may not. It is not your role to educate the providers about these policies but it is your right to find out which ones they have and are actively using.
It is also helpful to know what sorts of policies they are required to have.
The minimum required policies include a child safe policy, a code of conduct and complaints/reporting procedures.

In addition all providers need to be aware of their legal obligations in providing the safest environment for children in their care for example the requirements for mandatory reporting.

Mandatory reporting means that some professionals such as doctors, nurses and police and school teachers are legally obliged to report suspected child abuse.

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In addition, any person who believes on reasonable grounds that a child needs protection can make a report to the Victorian Child Protection Service. It is the Child Protection worker’s job to assess and, where necessary, further investigate if a child or young person is at risk of harm. Further information on mandatory reporting can be found on the DHHS website: http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/for-individuals/children,-families-and-young-people/child-protection.

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Failure to disclose and failure to protect are also concepts and practices that organisations should include reference to in their child safe policies.

A Code of Conduct is a document that describes standards of practice that employees and volunteers should follow when working with children.
Another important area to be aware of is about complaints procedures. You have the right to say that you are not happy with any aspect of the services your child receives from your service provider. It is your right and it is important to make a complaint.
All organisations and individual providers will have a procedure to follow if you have any concerns and are required to let you know what their complaint procedure is. If they haven’t done this, ask them to provide you with this information.
A complaints procedure refers to the process to follow if you have a concern, who you should speak to, if you are not satisfied with the outcome of your discussion how to lodge a complaint within the service and if needed, outside the service.

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If you feel uncomfortable to discuss the issue directly with the service provider, or you have not felt satisfied with how they have handled it, there are external bodies that can help you.

Even if you are not sure which body to contact, just call one and they will direct you to the right place. If you are not happy with a disability service provider or need advice regarding a person with disability you can contact the Disability Services Commissioner: 1800 677 342, complaints@odsc.vic.gov.au, www.odsc.vic.gov.au.

If you are not happy with the NDIOA’s actions you can contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman: 1300 362 072, www.ombudsman.gov.au

Other information on complaints can be gained by contacting: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/making-a-complaint-about-disability-services; http://www.odsc.vic.gov.au/making-a-complaint.

Another important policy area is the providers’ views and practices about privacy. This is required by legislation but many organisations also develop their own privacy policy. It will be important to find out what their policy & practices are in relation to using restraints.

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Restraints are a term that refers to the use of ways (physical/chemical) to control another person in order to protect the safety of the child or other people.

Physical restraints involve the sustained or prolonged use of a part of a person’s body to prevent, restrict, or subdue the movement of another person. Chemical restraints means using medication (tablets) to control or subdue someone’s behaviour and seclusion means placing someone in an area away of others. There may be times when these methods are required to protect the safety of the child or any other people however it is important to discuss with the provider when they might use these strategies and what your view is about their use with your child.

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What questions you could ask to find out more about this area include:

  • What policies do you have for example a child safe policy, code of conduct for your staff (and volunteers) and complaints reporting procedures?
  • Could I have a copy of them? Even if someone is an independent contractor they still need to provide you with evidence about how they will demonstrate their child safe policy or statement of commitment and how they follow a code of conduct, address privacy issues and what complaints procedures can be followed.
  • Do you have a process for managing concerns and what is it? If I am not happy with what has happened who else do I contact?
  • What training is provided to staff and volunteers about how to use these policies?
  • How do you address privacy issues? Do you have a specific policy? This is a very important area for children with disability and you may want to pursue questions for example:
    • Are you able to provide a choice of female or male staff regarding the intimate care of children and young people?
    • Are toilet and bathroom facilities fully accessible and do they provide privacy