Child Safety Procedure

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Peter Hewitt Care for Africa Foundation Inc (CfA) intends to apply for membership of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID). It is an ACFID requirement for CfA to have a child safety policy in place and CfA endorses the requirement.  This is in keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) is the universal foundation for child protection.

The CfA Child Safety Policy is available on the CfA website.  This Code of Conduct supports the policy and reflects the minimum professional standard expected by CfA staff, volunteers, partners, observers, contractors and associates when dealing with children in the communities within which we work and provides a framework for managing and reducing risks of child abuse or harm in the content of CfA’s clinics held in Tanzania and elsewhere.

When working in a foreign country, all CfA staff volunteers and immediate associates are required to abide by local legislation, including labour laws with regard to child labour.

CfA is committed to the safety, protection and wellbeing of all children to preventing a person from working with children if they pose an unacceptable risk to children.  We support the rights of children and will act without hesitation to ensure a child safe environment is maintained.  All decisions regarding the welfare and protection of children are made based on the “Best Interests of the Child” Principle.  This principle refers to decisions considering that the child receives maximum benefit possible from services provided, and that the positive impacts of any course of action outweigh any negative impacts.

2. Context

Child abuse is a global problem that affects both boys and girls.  It has existed throughout history and is deeply rooted in cultural, economic and social practices.  Children are abused physically, sexually, emotionally and through neglect.  Children living in poverty are more at risk of child abuse and exploitation.

This Code of Conduct provides a practical guide to prevent child abuse in CfA’s programs.  It outlines a range of risk management strategies that will be implemented which will reduce the risk of children being harmed.

3. Code of Conduct

3.1 CfA’s staff, volunteers, associates and contractors operating under the direction of CfA will:
  • treat every child with dignity and respect regardless of differences of ethnicity, religion, age, ability, gender, sexual orientation and economic circumstances;
  • conduct themselves in a manner consistent with their position as a positive role model to children and as a representative of CfA:
  • be aware of cultural differences and sensitivities;
  • immediately raise any concerns for the safety or wellbeing of a child in accordance with CfA’s reporting process;
  • listen to children, take their concerns seriously ad allow them to have a say in the decisions that affect them, as appropriate;
  • be visible when working with children;
  • avoid being alone with a child where practicable; and
  • try to ensure that other adults are present when working with a child.
3.2 CfA staff, volunteers and associates will not:
  • engage in any behavior that is intended to shame, humiliate, belittle or degrade a child;
  • use language, make suggestions or offer advice that is inappropriate offensive or abusive;
  • take a child to one’s hotel or lodgings, nor sleep alone in the same room or share a bed with a child who is not one’s own;
  • smack, hit or physically assault a child;
  • take a child unaccompanied to the toilet or bathe them unsupervised;
  • develop or procure sexual relationships with a child, or relationships that can be reasonable regarded as exploitative;
  • behave physically in a manner that is inappropriate or sexually provocative;
  • condone, or participate in, behavior which is illegal, unsafe or abusive;
  • photograph or video a child without the consent of the child or his or her parent/s or guardian/s;
  • hold, kiss, cuddle or touch a child in an inappropriate, unnecessary or culturally insensitive way;
  • provide gifts to children for any purposes which might involve a breach or potential breach of these procedures; or
  • supply alcohol or illicit drugs.
3.3 Visual Images

When photographing or filming a child for work related purposes, CfA representatives must:

  • before photographing or filming a child, access and endeavour to comply with local traditions or restrictions for reproducing personal images;
  • ensure films, videos, and DVDs are respectful of a child’s dignity and maintain standards of taste and decency;
  • ensure images do not portray a child in a submissive manner and never in poses that could be regarded as sexually suggestive;
  • ensure images are honest representations of the context and facts; and
  • protect the personal identity of a child when sending images electronically.

Guidance notes for visual images are provided in Annexure 1 below

3.4 Sexual Exploitation
  1. Sexual exploitation and abuse by CfA staff, volunteers or associates constitute acts of gross misconduct.  This would be deemed grounds for termination of employment of staff and cause for termination of a volunteer’s engagement with CfA in its Tanzanian operations.  Volunteers or associates would not be invited to participate in further trips where evidence was substantiated.  Reports to Australian authorities upon return from medical trip would be made;
  2. Sexual activity with children under 18 is prohibited regardless of the age of majority locally.  Mistaken belief in the aged of a child is not a defence;
  3. Exchange of money, employment, goods or services for sex including sexual favours or other forms of humiliating, degrading or exploitative behavior is prohibited.  This includes exchange of assistance that is due to other beneficiaries such as parents or guardians as well as direct beneficiaries of the assistance offered by CfA;
  4. Sexual relationships between CfA staff, volunteers or associates and beneficiaries are strongly discouraged, since they are based on inherently unequal power dynamics.  Such relationships undermine the credibility and integrity of humanitarian aid work.
  5. Where an CfA staff member, volunteer or associate develops concerns or suspicions regarding sexual abuse by a fellow worker, whether in the same agency or not, she/he must report such concerns via established agency reporting mechanisms;
  6. CfA staff, volunteers or associates are obliged to create and maintain an environment which prevents sexual exploitation and abuse, and which promotes the implementation of their code of conduct;
  7. Team leaders have a particular responsibility to support and develop systems which maintain a child safe environment.

All personnel who are working with children must sign a CfA Child Safeguarding – Professional Behaviours (Annexure 2).

4. Reporting Procedures

CfA takes all concerns and reports of child abuse seriously and acts on these reports immediately.  These concerns may relate to a child or an CfA representative, or a concern about a child or person/s outside of CfA’s programs.

All concerns should immediately be reported and all relevant information and details regarding the complaint recorded on a child incident report form (Annexure 3).

4.1 Who should report?

All ADF staff, volunteers and representatives should report.  People in the community and representatives of in-country partner organisations may also report their concerns.

4.2 What should be reported?
  • Any disclosure of allegation from a child / community member or CfA representative regarding the safety, abuse or exploitation of a child;
  • Any behavior exhibited by an CfA staff, volunteer or other relevant stakeholder that breaches the CfA code of conduct for working with children;
  • Inappropriate use of visual images, including evidence of child pornography; and 
  • Suspicious behavior that could be associated with sexual exploitation or trafficking.
4.3 How should it be reported to?

Reports should be given verbally and by completing CfA’s child safety incident form (Annexure 3).

4.4 How should it be reported to?

Overseas:  Child abuse reports should be made to the nominated team leader.  If this not possible reports can be made directly to the CEO of CfA or the Chair of the Board of Management.

In Australia:  Child abuse reports should be made to the CEO of CfA or the Chair of the Board of Management.

4.5 Reporting of child abuse in Australia

Reporting child abuse in Australia is a clearer process compared to responding to incidents that occur overseas.  In all Australian States and Territories, sexual and physical abuse of a child is a crime.  The age of consent in most Australian States and Territories is 16, including in Tasmania.  Additionally, in some jurisdictions it is a criminal offence for persons who are in positions of power and trust (eg teacher, parent, carer) to engage in sexual activity with a child under the age of 18.

Reporting child abuse can either be made to the local State Police or the State child safety authorities.  If there is an allegation or suspicion of child abuse by an CfA representative this will be reported to the State Police.

If there are concerns that someone external to the organisation is sexually abusing a child, CfA will contact the State Police and / or child safety authorities.  Concerns about the welfare of the child in relation to neglect and / or emotional abuse will be reported to the Child Safety Services (ph 1300 737 639 fax 6230 7821 email cpaars@dhhs.tas.gov.au) 

Concerns about people engaging in child sex tourism, child sex trafficking and child pornography will be reported to:  Australian Federal Police 

4.6 Reporting of child abuse allegations overseas

The first step is to gather all relevant information.  An initial assessment will be made based on the quality and reliability of the information and a decision will be made on what further steps to take.

A report will be dealt with as an internal disciplinary matter if it is a breach of CfA’s code of conduct.  If the allegation constitutes a criminal offence in the country the matter may be directly referred to the local police or authorities.

If the incident has occurred outside of CfA’s program the matter will be referred to an eternal body or agency dealing with child safety matters in the country.

4.7 What will happen next?

The nominated team leader, in consultation with the CEO and / or Chair of the Board of Management, will discuss the allegations and decide upon the next steps.  This will involve either:

  • interviewing the person/s who made the allegations or other witnesses to gather more information with which to make a decision;
  • reporting to local police and or child safety authority;
  • reporting to the Australian Federal Police;
  • handling internally if it is not a criminal matter; and / or
  • taking no further action.

CfA will treat all concerns seriously, ensure that all parties are treated fairly and the principles of natural justice prevail.  All reports will be handled professionally, confidentially and expediently.

All reports made in good faith will be viewed as being made in the best interests of the child regardless of the outcomes of any investigation.  CfA will ensure that the interests of anyone reporting child abuse are protected.  Any person who intentionally makes false and malicious allegations will face disciplinary action.

The rights and welfare of the child is of prime importance; every effort must be made to protect the rights and safety of the child throughout the investigation.

4.8 Responding to disclosure by a child

When a child reports that he / she has been abused, they may be feeling scared, guilty, ashamed, angry and powerless.  If a child alleges abuse, whatever the outcome, the child must be taken seriously.

It is important to remain calm and in control and to reassure the child that something will be done to keep him / her safe.

When a child or young person discloses they are being harmed you can show your care and concern for the child/young person by:

  • listening carefully;
  • telling the child you believe him or her;
  • telling the child it is not their fault and he / she is not responsible for the abuse; and
  • telling the child you are pleased he / she told you.

 

You will not be helping the child if you:

  • make promises you cannot keep, such as promising that you will not tell anyone;
  • push the child into giving details of the abuse (your role is to listen to what the child wants to tell you and not to conduct an investigation:
  • ask any leading questions, as this may prejudice any subsequent investigation; or
  • indiscriminately discuss the circumstances of the child with others not directly involved.

Try and obtain some details such as where the abuse is taking place (ie school, home, work, etc), whether it is currently occurring or did occur in the past and the name of the perpetrator if possible.

It is possible that some children will make a disclosure and then ask you not to tell anyone.  It is important that you seek guidance from the country team leader to discuss how the child can be supported and the disclosure managed.

4.9 Other Actions to Take
4.9.1 Protect the child

Once an allegation is made there should be an immediate response that protects the child from further potential abuse or victimisation.  The child may require medical assistance or counselling support.  Where possible the child should remain in the place of residence or relevant program.  Exceptions may be made where the child is deemed to be at risk of victimisation by peers as a result of the allegation or because the alleged abuse has occurred in home-based care.  If the child is in immediate danger you should make arrangements for the child to go to a safe place.

4.9.2 Distance the alleged perpetrator

The best interest of the child may warrant the standing down of a volunteer of CfA representative.   The person who has identified the abuse should recommend the appropriate action in writing to the CEO and/ or Chair of the Board of Management.

4.10 Confidentiality

All reports, names of people involved and other details will remain confidential.  Only the team leader in the country, CEO and / or Chair of the Board of Management will be informed of the report.  Details will be released on a need-to-know basis or when required by relevant local or Australian law or a notification to Police or child safety authorities is made.

5. Education

All volunteer medical team specialists who are members of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons should already be aware of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Child Safety Policy.  Any other medical team members should be aware of the relevant Child Safety Policy published by their college and otherwise, any member of a medical team who is not a member of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons will be made aware of CfA’s policy through verbal communication and / or the issuing of a hard copy of the policy and via a referral to the CfA website which houses copies of the Policy and Code of Conduct.  Pamphlets and other information will be provided where available.

Community members and in-country partners with whom CfA works will be provided with information about how to report any child safety or other concerns about CfA volunteers and representatives.

6. Screening and Recruitment

To ensure that no member of CfA will pose a risk, CfA will:

  • Insist on a “Working with Children” certificate from appropriate team members; and
  • Ensure that CfA’s stance on child safety is well promoted in materials sent to volunteer medical team members.

7. References

7.1 Associated Documents

This policy should be read in conjunction with these documents:

  • CfA Child Safeguarding – Professional Behaviours (Annexure 2)
  • CfA Child Safety Incident Form (Annexure 3)
  • CfA Code of Conduct
  • Complaints Handling Policy
7.2 Reference Documents
  • ACFID Code of Conduct (www.acfid.org.au)
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) www.unicef.org/crc;
  • Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child www.unhcr.ch/html/menue3/b/25.htm
7.3 Acknowledgements

Parts of this policy have been adapted from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Child Safety Policy and the policy adopted by the Australian Doctors for Africa.  The Department of Health and Human Services Child Safety websites of the Tasmanian Government

ANNEXURE 1: GUIDANCE NOTES ON VISUAL IMAGES

In our use of visual images, both photographic stills and video, our overriding principle is to maintain respect and dignity in our portrayal of children, families and communities.  Whilst images are an essential means of documenting our work, we strive to maintain the dignity of everyone with whom we work and will not use images that are disrespectful or demeaning.

The following principles serve as guidelines for personnel taking visual images of CfA’s international medical operations:

  • Respect the dignity of the subject.
  • Always seek to ask permission when taking photographs or video footage of individuals.  Consent for taking and using photographs of children will be sought from parents / caregivers or from children directly when they are of sufficient age and understanding.
  • Wherever appropriate, explain to the subject the likely use of the images (ie Annual Report publication or CfA Newsletter).
  • Never take pictures of people who say they don’t want to be photographed.
  • Do not publish images in scientific journals, the internet, newspapers or other sources that identity an individual or place them in a potentially compromising situation without the permission of that individual.  Requirements for verification of permission granted varies from country to country but for images likely to be published we suggest that individuals are either not identified (if the face is included place a bar across the eyes and mid-face) or for images that include surgical pathology of the genitals that permission is confirmed and that the risk of misinterpretation of intent is considered.
  • Use images truthfully and do not exploit the subject.
  • Do not manipulate the subject in any way which distorts the reality of the situation.
  • Be confident that, to the best of your knowledge, the subject would regard the image and its use as truthful if she/he saw it.
  • Maintain standards of taste and decency.
  • Do not use images which are erotic, pornographic or obscene.
  • Images depicting naked bodies may sometimes present in a surgical context, however, avoid portraying children in this manner unless it is necessary for reporting of documentation purposes.
  • When publishing images of a surgical nature where patients appear naked, censor / protect the subject’s identity.
  • Maintain high technical standards – do not crop or digitally enhance an image in a way which misleadingly distorts the reality of the situation and, in video editing do not misleadingly distort the reality of the situation.
  • Be mindful of storing and sharing visual images, particularly when children are depicted in a surgical context.
  • Store your images in a secure file with restricted access.
  • Where possible, avoid distributing (via email) visual images of children that might identify them or expose them.
  • The whole world is on the web including CfA; all data is kept on the web and is in fact accessible.  Ensure the security of all images and avoid public access to compromising or identifying images.
  • Be wary when viewing images on your laptop or digital camera in public that images cannot be misinterpreted.
  • CfA would like to have a CD copy of images taken on team visit.  This acts as a backup but also would help to providing evidence should a complaint be subsequently made.

ANNEXURE 2: CHILD SAFEGUARDING – PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOURS

I,______________________________________________________ engaged by Peter Hewitt Care for Africa Foundation Inc (CfA), agree that while undertaking work with and on behalf of CfA, I will:

General

  • Recognise that risk to the safety of children is inherent in the delivery of CfA programs overseas, due to the nature of programs (delivery of health services) and the vulnerability of the beneficiary population due to poverty, disability and power-inequity.  As such, I will ensure to be mindful of the risk in all that I do, during the course of my involvement with CfA.
  • Treat children with respect regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
  • Not to use language or behaviour towards children that is inappropriate, harassing, abusive, sexually provocative, demeaning or culturally inappropriate.
  • Not engage children in any form of sexual activity or acts, including paying for sexual services or acts.
  • Ensure another adult is present when working in the proximity of children.
  • Not invite unaccompanied children into my home, hotel or a remote or isolated area unless they are at immediate risk of injury or in physical danger.
  • Not use any computers, mobile phones or video and digital cameras inappropriately and never to exploit or harass children or to access child pornography through any medium.
  • Refrain from physical punishment or discipline of children (excluding my own children).
  • Comply with all relevant Australian and local legislation, including labour laws in relation to child labour.
  • Ensure that I immediately report concerns or allegations of child abuse or exploitation in accordance with CfA’s reporting requirements.
  • Immediately disclose all charges, convictions and other outcomes of an offence that relates to child exploitation and abuse, including those under traditional law, which occurred before or occurs during association with DFAT.
  • Be aware of behaviour and avoid actions or behaviours that could be perceived by others as child exploitation and abuse.

Filming and photographing children and use of children’s images for work related purposes

I further agree that, whilst working with CfA or engaged in CfA activities, and when photographing or filming a child or using children’s images for work-related purposes, I must:

  • before photographing or filming a child, assess and endeavour to comply with local traditions or restrictions for reproducing personal images;
  • before photographing or filming a child, obtain informed verbal consent from the child or a parent or guardian of the child;
  • ensure photographs, films, videos and DVDs present children in a dignified and respectful manner and not in a vulnerable or submissive manner.  Children should be adequately clothed and not in poses that could be seen as sexually suggestive;
  • ensure images are honest representations of the context and the facts; and
  • ensure the file labels, meta data or text descriptions do not reveal identifying information about a child when sending images electronically or publishing images in any form.

By signing this declaration, I confirm and accept that:

  • I shall abide by all the standards and guidelines of the CfA Child Safety Policy and Child Safety Code of Conduct.
  • My failure to comply with the standards of the Child Safety Policy and Child Safety Code of Conduct may result in disciplinary action.

 

 

____________________________________ ________________________

Signature Date

_____________________________________

Full Name (Please print)

CFA-P19.V1 Child Safety Procedure – Effective Date: 26 April 2020 Document.    Approved By: Board of Management.

Controlled Document — Printed Versions are not controlled. CFA