Child Protection Policy
July 2010Statement of Responsibility
Be Kids Australia Inc ("BKA") is committed to the safety and well being of the children it works with and their protection from abuse and exploitation, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child. BKA endorses and supports the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (1989). BKA will act without hesitation to ensure a child-‐safe environment is maintained to the best of its ability especially having regard to child abuse and child pornography.
Our in-country partners, whether formal or informal ("Partner Agencies"), are likewise responsible for ensuring that child protection policies and standards are developed in accordance with the laws of the relevant country and implemented.
BKA takes its duty of care seriously and will aim at all times to provide the safest possible programs and environments for children. This will be achieved by identifying and managing risks that may lead to harm.Purpose of the BKA Child Protection Policy
For the purpose of this policy, a child will be considered to be a person under the age of 18 years. The BKA Child Protection Policy (CPP) has been developed to provide a practical guide to prevent child abuse in BKA projects and programs. It will outline a range of risk management strategies that will be implemented which will reduce the risk of children being harmed.
BKA is obliged to adhere to local and international child protection criminal laws, which prohibit the abuse and exploitation of children. These include local laws where BKA programs exist, and international laws and Conventions in relation to all forms of child abuse and child exploitation, including: child sex tourism, child sex trafficking, child labour and child pornography.Awareness Raising
Child abuse is not tolerated by BKA, nor is possession of or access to child pornography. Child abuse consists of anything which directly harms children or damages their prospects of safe and healthy development into adulthood. Child abuse can be physical abuse (purposeful injuries or threat to injure), emotional abuse (chronic attack on child's self esteem), neglect (failure to provide a child with basic necessities of life such as food, clothing, shelter and supervision) or bullying.
The majority of sexual abuse takes place within the family and community. However, persons outside the community may also be a threat. Awareness raising provides education for members of Partner Agencies, volunteers and members as to what constitutes exploitation, abuse and neglect and what are the indicators of paedophilia and sexual abuse in the local context. Partner Agencies and BKA volunteers are to receive instructions on what constitutes abuse and exploitation, to be monitored by the Be Kids Child Protection Officer.
BKA is committed to educating personnel and others in the CPP, in how to reduce risks and create child safe environments. We will promote child safe practices which keep children safe in BKA programs and in their own community, and provide information about child protection to the children and communities in which we work.Scope of the Policy
This CPP applies to all BKA personnel, Partner vAgencies personnel and other key groups. 'Personnel' refers to: full-time, part-time, international and national and also those engaged on short-term contracts such as: consultancies, researchers, photographers, etc and includes volunteers.
BKA Child Protection Policy will be reviewed every two years. BKA Child Protection Officer will manage the review of the CPP and BKA personnel and Partner Agencies will be consulted in this process.Program Planning
BKA recognises that there are a number of potential risks to children in the delivery of our programs. In recognising these risks, assessment of the circumstance of children is incorporated into surveys conducted prior to the initiation of a program. Where relevant, such assessments include plans to work with communities to reduce risks facing vulnerable children and to address the needs of children who are in situations of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
Working with the communities provides BKA the opportunity to develop close links between project Partner Agencies and local law enforcement agencies.
BKA will offer information on community resources and support services to project Partner Agencies.
Recognising the high-risk features of the activities involving working with children who have been abandoned or orphaned and who have been abused, BKA personnel will be trained on local risks to the children.
Programs should be educational and generally explore the cause of child abuse and exploitation and implement responses (including how to report concerns about abuse) to support family and community responsibility for the well being of children.
Children are considered active participants whose hopes and aspirations are respected and whose welfare is of paramount importance. They are involved in programs designed to protect them through mechanisms that give them a voice and provide them with skills for protecting themselves. However, the responsibility for protection of children lies with adults. Children should not be expected to make adult decisions.
Risk management is an ongoing part of every activity and BKA conducts a child protection risk assessment on every new and emerging program and project, included in the project management cycle. A child abuse incident reporting sheet has been developed and BKA personnel and project Partner Agencies are aware of its existence.Screening
BKA is committed to child safe recruitment, selection and screening practices. Volunteers on the field are screened by way of personal interview, targeted reference check and police clearance (to be reviewed every two years). They are made aware of the Child Protection Policy before departure and will be required to sign the CPP.
In the best interests of children, Partner Agencies are encouraged to adhere to the BKA Child Protection Policy and should not work with anyone with a prior conviction for child abuse, paedophilia or related offences.
Volunteers and Partner Agencies must fulfill accountability requirements which are set out in the BKA Child Protection Policy and report regularly to BKA on the activities.,/p>
BKA reserves the right to refuse engagement of the volunteers or terminate any person's engagement that may pose a risk to children.Training of Volunteers & General Membership
BKA is commited to training its volunteer members on child protection. Before departure, an induction session will be presented by the BKA Child Protection Officer to the field volunteer member. During the session, the charter for BKA will be explained and the importance of child protection will be emphasised.
Every field volunteer member will receive a copy of the Child Protection Policy and time will be given during the session for them to read the contents.
BKA will emphasise that the CPP is an important document and underlies the work that we do. After reading the CPP, any questions or issues raised will be discussed. Before the session ends, each field volunteer member must sign the CPP agreeing to abide by the terms of the CPP.
The general membership will be informed by way of the Annual General Meeting that the CPP is an important document and underlies the work that we do. Copies will be made available for the general membership, also in e-copy form.Behaviour Protocols
Behaviour protocols are designed to protect children, but are also intended to protect staff form false accusations of inappropriate behavior or abuse. In addition to reflecting behaviour requirements based on local sensitivities, the basic Behaviour Protocol includes:
Child abusers are not likely to remain in an environment where workers are trained to report suspicious behaviour. Child abusers thrive on secrecy and are more likely to commit an abusive act when they are unnoticed, or when they are in an environment in which others are naïve and insensitive to the possibility of child abusive. A preliminary report on the incident must be prepared by the complainant with assistance, as may be required, from the Be Kids Child Protection Officer. This initial documentation will be used in an investigation of the incidence as outlined in Appendix B.
The preliminary report must include the following:
In the event of an incident of suspected child abuse, BKA will put into effect internal reporting steps outlined above, seek instructions from and report to local authorities as required, having due regard to the appropriateness of informing local law and judicial mechanisms where this is not a requirement.
Any person who has knowledge of a potential child protection issue involving BKA should immediately contact the Be Kids Child Protection Officer.
Under the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth), it is a crime for Australians to engage in, encourage or benefit from sexual activity with persons under the age of 16 while overseas. Persons charged with this criminal offence face penalties of up to 17 years' imprisonment and companies charged with this criminal offence face fines of up to $561,000.
Further, the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) provides for a penalty of 10 years' imprisonment for possession of child pornography depicting persons under the age of 18, and up to 15 years' imprisonment for online grooming of persons under the age of 16.
BKA officers entering into agreements with Partner Agencies which provide services to children should require assurance that child protection policies and procedures are in place, acknowledging that lack of such policies can place children and BKA at risk. To the best of its ability, BKA shall apply the same high standards to its Partner Agencies, subcontractors or associates and other third party volunteers.Involving Children
BKA is committed to child and youth participation. BKA will provide opportunities for children's views to be heard and will incorporate their views into its CPP and programs. They will be consulted n the development and review of the CPP and will be asked to contribute to the child safe code of conduct in regards to what they consider to be appropriate ad inappropriate behaviours. Children will also be informed about BKA child abuse process and who to contact if they are at risk, have been abused or are concerned about another child.Reviewing the CCP
This CPP will be reviewed and updated every 2 years. However, where there is a need to update the policy before 2 years as a result of the experiences BKA face in implementing the CPP, BKA is committed to reviewing the CPP as and when required so that it adapts to the evolving eventualities in all regards.
Joan Peters LLB BA