Child Safe Statement of Commitment

By adopting this statement, Guardian Community Services affirms that it is committed to keeping children safe and takes child protection seriously.

In handing down its findings in 2017, The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that, in some cases, organizational culture, systems, and processes had resulted in children being exposed to harm and that organizations had failed to respond appropriately when that occurred. To protect children in the future, the Royal Commission recommended that organizations be required to implement ten Child Safe Standards, which were developed drawing on the evidence presented to the Commission, its findings, and other research.

The ten Child Safe Standards are:

1. Child safety is embedded in organizational leadership, governance, and culture.

2. Children participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.

3. Families and communities are informed and involved.

4. Equity is upheld, and diverse needs are taken into account.

5. People working with children are suitable and supported.

6. Processes to respond to complaints of child abuse are child-focused.

7. Staff are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and awareness to keep children safe through continual education and training.

8. Physical and online environments minimize the opportunity for abuse to occur.

9. Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is continuously reviewed and improved.

10. Policies and procedures document how the organization is child safe.

The Standards provide a framework for organizations to create a culture of safety and inclusion and develop strategies to keep children safe from harm.

The Children’s Guardian Amendment (Child Safe Scheme) 2021 came into force in November 2021 to “embed the Safe Child Standards as the primary framework that guides child safe practice in organizations in NSW.” The legislation enables the Office of Children’s Guardian (OCG) to proactively address identified gaps in an organization’s systems and processes to implement the Child Safe Standards.

Under the Children’s Guardian Amendment (Child Safe Scheme) 2021, the head of a child-safe organization must ensure that the organization implements the Child Safe Standards through systems, policies, and processes, including:

  • a statement of the organization’s commitment to child safety
  • a child-safe policy
  • a code of conduct applying to employees, management, contractors, and volunteers
  • a complaint management policy and procedure
  • a human resources policy
  • a risk management plan
  • a training plan for relevant staff

Guardian Community Services proposes to implement the Child Safe Standards using a staged approach with existing resources and via existing projects. The management team includes representatives from Strategy & Performance, Communications & Marketing, Human Resources, Community Development, Risk & Internal Audit, and Governance, and is working together to progress the implementation of the Standards across the organization over the next few months. This will entail writing or re-writing policies to reflect the Standards, assessing and amending processes, considering how we engage with children as part of service delivery, and training for staff, councillors, contractors, students, and volunteers.

Our Child Safe Statement of Commitment applies to all employees, volunteers, work experience students, contractors, contract employees, and councillors. Everyone will be provided with appropriate training and support to comply with the Child Safe Standards and understand their responsibilities regarding keeping children safe from harm. We will also work towards integrating the perspectives of children and young people in Guardian Community Services’s decision-making and delivery of services.

Guardian Community Services has zero tolerance for violence and abuse towards children and young people and supports measures that reduce opportunities for harm. All children have the right to grow up feeling loved, nurtured, and protected and with opportunities to reach their full potential.

Guardian Community Services is committed to providing a child-safe environment where children and young people are safe and feel safe, and their voices are heard about decisions that affect their lives. We value and support inclusion, diversity, and equality. We support the empowerment and participation of children and young people. We take them seriously when they raise concerns regarding their well-being or when we see that they are being harmed in any way.

Particular attention will be paid to the cultural safety of First Nations children and children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, as well as the safety of children with a disability or long-term illness and those who are caring for others. Whilst recognizing that some of these children will have additional vulnerabilities or challenges, we also acknowledge their resilience, strength, and resourcefulness.

Child protection is everyone’s responsibility in the community, not just the families and carers of children and young people. It includes the broader community that children grow up in, their neighbours and friends, but also the institutions like schools, churches, and community organizations, as well as Council. Everyone has a role to play in keeping children safe. In the coming months and years, we will look to strengthen our policies and procedures in all areas in our journey to becoming a child-safe organization.

The Statement of Commitment will be followed by the development of a Child Safe Policy. This Policy will further outline how Guardian Community Services will embed child safety in its culture, policies, and practices, including the Code of Conduct, employment practices, governance and risk management, and complaints handling procedures.