Children and Young People's Safety - Everyone’s Business

Group of kids sitting on the floor laughing

Yarra Ranges Council is a Child Safe Organisation and is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all children and young people in our community. We take a zero tolerance approach to child abuse and neglect, particularly in relation to Council services and programs. Staff members, volunteers, business and organisations working with Council all play a part in creating a community where everyone feels confident, empowered and supported to speak up about child safety concerns.

Are you worried about a child or young person?

If you live, work or play across Yarra Ranges, support is available should you have concern for a child or young person’s health or safety. See the Guide to Authorities below for who you need to contact.

If you’d like more information about Child Safety or advice on meeting your organisational obligations, you can email ChildSafe@yarraranges.vic.gov.au or call a Designed Child Safety Officer at Yarra Ranges Council on Tel: 1300 368 333

Why is it important to report child abuse?

  • Reporting child abuse is the important first step in helping children and young people who are experiencing abuse and neglect.
  • Abuse can have a devastating impact on the lives of children and young people. Failure to report means that the child or young person could continue to experience abuse.
  • Taking action ensures that children and families get the help and support they need
  • When concerns, disclosures or allegations are not acted upon, the perpetrator will keep abusing children and may move from organisation to organisation, from community to community or continue to abuse within their own family.
  • Keeping children safe is everyone’s responsibility

Yarra Ranges Council Statement of Commitment

Council recognises that the abuse of children and young people can have lifelong catastrophic consequences and must be actively prevented. Yarra Ranges Council has a zero tolerance approach to the abuse of children and young people, is committed to actively promoting safety and working towards reducing all factors that lead to risk of children and young people being harmed.

Council acknowledges that the abuse of children and young people is unfortunately relatively common and that every child and young person is at risk regardless of their background. Council commits to working with an inclusive and culturally appropriate approach for children and young people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds and children with disabilities, who are known to be at greater risk.

Yarra Ranges Council will ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people by:

  • Providing environments that are safe for all children and young people when delivering services.
  • Embedding organisational processes that safeguard children and young people from abuse across all aspects of its operation.
  • Responding appropriately when harm or the risk of harm is identified and linking to appropriate services that support children and young people, their parents, carers and families.
  • Recognising diversity and working to promote the engagement and cultural safety of children and young people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds, children and young people with a disability, who are living in out of home care, and identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.
  • Empowering and advocating for the best interests of children and young people.
  • Listening to and taking seriously the voices of children and young people, families and communities.
  • Educating Council’s workforce participants, partners and the community about the safety of children and young people.

Child Safety Legislation / Council’s Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy

The 2013 Victorian Betrayal of Trust parliamentary inquiry into child sexual abuse developed a number of recommendations that has since seen the introduction of key reforms including criminal and civil law and child safe organisations.

The criminal and civil laws include:

  • Failure to Protect
  • Failure to Disclose (Report)
  • Grooming offenses
  • Duty of Care Wrongs Amendment
  • Amendments to the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 for Mandatory Reporting and Working with Children Act 2005

The Victorian reforms are reinforced by the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 and are overseen by the Commission for Children and Young People. Strict penalties may apply to organisations or imdividuals who fail to comply.

In 2019 the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, developed by the National Human Rights Commission was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments. View Council’s Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy.

Child Safe Standards

Victorian organisations that provide services or facilities to children, such as Yarra Ranges Council are required by law to implement Child Safe Standards in order to protect children from harm.

The Standards address ways organisations needs to prevent and respond to sexual, physical, emotional, and psychological abuse, as well as serious neglect, of children under the age of 18 years.

The Child Safe Standards are a set of seven standards that aim to create and maintain child safe environments. Council is required to implement and comply with these Standards.

The Child Safe Standards aim to:

  • promote the safety of children
  • prevent child abuse
  • ensure organisations and businesses have effective processes in place to respond to and report all allegations of child abuse.

The Child Safe Standards work by:

  • driving changes in organisational culture – embedding child safety in everyday thinking and practice
  • providing a minimum standard of child safety across all organisations
  • highlighting that we all have a role to keep children safe from abuse.

Although all children are vulnerable, some children face additional vulnerabilities. The standards provide three overarching principles that organisations must consider:

  • the cultural safety of Aboriginal Children
  • the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • the safety of children with a disability.

The organisation overseeing the implementation and compliance with the Child Safe Standards is the Commission for Children and Young People.

Click the links below to find out more about the Child Safe Standards in languages other than English.

Reportable Conduct Scheme

The Reportable Conduct Scheme (established by the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005) aims to improve organisations’ responses to allegations of certain types of misconduct involving children, committed by their workers and volunteers. It imposes legal obligations on heads of organisations to have systems in place to prevent child abuse, and if child abuse is alleged, to ensure allegations are brought to the attention of appropriate persons for investigation and response.

Reportable conduct against a child includes:

  • Sexual offences
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Physical violence
  • Significant emotional or psychological harm
  • Significant neglect

The Reportable Conduct Scheme has been designed to ensure that the Commission for Children and Young People will be aware of every allegation of certain types of employee/volunteer misconduct involving children. The Commission must be informed of all allegations of child abuse involving a worker or volunteer, and independently monitors all investigations undertaken by organisations.

Any complaints about a Yarra Ranges Council staff member, Administrator, volunteer or contractor’s behaviour or conduct towards a child or young person will be treated seriously and in accordance with the Reportable Conduct Scheme.

To notify Council of any concerns, please email Childsafe@yarraranges.vic.gov.au or call 1300 368 333 and ask to speak to a Designated Child Safe Officer. If you speak a language other than English, you can call 131 450.  You can also contact the Commission for Children and Young People at contact@ccyp.vic.gov.au or call 03 8601 5884 (Monday to Friday).

Reporting an Incident

What Is Child Abuse?

  • Physical Abuse – non-accidental infliction of physical violence, which injures or harms a child/ young person
  • Sexual Abuse - when an adult uses force or power to involve a child/young person in sexual activity.
  • Emotional/Psychological Abuse –rejecting, isolating, excluding, threatening, verbal abuse, coldness.
  • Neglect - failing to meet a child/young person’s basic needs; food, drink, clothing, hygiene, medical attention, supervision.
  • Family Violence – any violent, threatening, coercive or controlling behaviour in a domestic setting.
  • Grooming – when an adult communicates and/or attempts to establish a relationship to prepare a child for sexual activity at a later time.

You Must Report.

  • When a child/ young person is in immediate physical danger or the concern relates to sexual abuse – CALL the Police on Tel: 000
  • If there’s a disclosure, allegation or observation made and you have reasonable belief that a child is in need of protection, report to Department of Health and Human Services Child Protection 1300 360 391 or 131 278 (after hrs.)
  • It is important that you record what you observe in relation to your concern including the date, location and description of child/ people involved.
  • Child abuse is upsetting – seek support yourself if this experience triggers strong emotions.

Guide to Authorities / Support Services

Reporting Authorities

Phone

Victoria Police

000

Department of Health and Human Services Child Protection

1300 360 391

131 278 (after hrs.)

Lilydale Police Station

9739 2300

Information and Support Services

Child FIRST

1300 369 146

Child Wise

9998 9906

 

Counselling Support Services

Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (ECASA)

9870 7330

1800 806 292 (24 hrs)

Australian Childhood Foundation

1800 176 453

Children’s Protection Society

9450 0900

Australian Childhood Foundation

9874 3922

Lifeline

 

13 11 14

1800 RESPECT

 

1800 737 732

Beyond Blue

 

1300 224 636

SAMSN (Survivors & Mates Support Network)

1800 472 676

Blue Knot Helpline

 

1300 657 380

National Redress Scheme Helpline

Help for people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse

 

1800 737 377

 

Resources for Children and Young People

Who can I contact for help?

Kids Helpline is a free 24/7, confidential and private counselling service specifically for children and young people aged 5 to 25 years. You can speak to them over the phone, via email, or even on-line live chat.

You can contact Kids Helpline about a wide range of issues; from everyday topics such as family, friends and school to more serious issues of child abuse, bullying, mental health issues, drug and alcohol use, homelessness and suicide.

Kids Helpline

Additional resources

What rights do children have?

Find out how Victoria’s Child Safe Standards are designed to keep you safe

How can I stay safe online?

Information for Organisations

What can organisation do to ensure we meet the legal obligation of our organisation to comply with Victoria’s compulsory Child Safe Standards?

A guide for creating a child safe organisation

How can our organisation create a culturally safe environment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children?

Ensuring cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

What can we do to help keep children with a disability safe in our organisation?

Ensuring the safety of children with a disability

What can we do to promote the cultural safety of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds?

Ensuring the safety of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

How can we encourage the empowerment and participation of children in our organisation?

Empowerment and participation of children