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Children's Protection Policy

POLICY NO: C-29.2

DATE OF APPROVAL: 19 April 2007
Council Resolution
2007/1/5

AMENDMENTS: August 2014 University Council 2014/4/7

REFERENCE AUTHORITY: Director: Student and Academic Services; Director: Human Resources
                                  

CROSS REFERENCES:

CONTENTS:
Preamble
Scope
Definition
Policy and Procedures


Preamble

UniSA is committed to providing a child safe environment that protects children from abuse and harm. This policy explains how UniSA demonstrates compliance with the Children's Protection Act 1993 (SA), and the Child Safe Environments: Principles of Good Practice, Standards for dealing with information obtained about the criminal history of employees and volunteers who work with children, and Guidelines for Mandated Notifiers and Information for Organisations.

Scope

This policy applies to UniSA staff, students, and volunteers in physical and online environments.

Definitions

Abuse/neglect refers to sexual, physical or emotional abuse, which causes or puts the child at risk of serious physical, psychological or emotional harm.

Act refers to the Children's Protection Act 1993 (SA).

Child refers to a person aged under 18 years.

Criminal history assessment refers to a decision about whether a person is suitable to work with children based on any relevant criminal history and the assessed risk of harm to children who receive the service.

Direct supervision refers to a supervisor's ongoing physical presence.

Exempt parties or activities refer to exemptions specified in the Act that limit its applicability.

Harm to children is a result of abuse or neglect. It includes serious harm to physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing.

Mandatory notification refers to the process of reporting suspected abuse/neglect of a child, supported by reasonable suspicions.

Natural Justice refers to a set of principles designed to promote fairness. The principles include

Prescribed function refers to:

Prescribed position refers to a position, the duties of which include a prescribed function.

Reasonable suspicion refers to a judgement that a child is being or has been abused or neglected, based on personal observations, information, and opinions formed while carrying out official work duties.

Responsible Officer refers to the Director: Student and Academic Services.

Risk assessment refers to a process of evaluating potential risks of harm to children or an individual child.

Staff refers to a person performing work for UniSA under a contract for services.

Student refers to an enrolled student at UniSA.

Policy and Procedures

1.     Responsibilities

1.1 The Director: Student and Academic Services is the Responsible Officer for ensuring that UniSA complies with the Act. The Responsible Officer provides support and advice to the UniSA community about children's protection issues.

1.2 Central units and local areas are responsible for implementing training and providing relevant resources to staff and students.

1.3 The Director: Human Resources is responsible for overseeing criminal history assessment processes at UniSA.

1.4 The Director: Assurance Services is responsible for conducting risk assessment activities related to the Act, including a yearly audit.

2. Legislative Obligations

2.1 The Act applies to UniSA as an organisation that provides education services. While UniSA does not provide services wholly to children, some of its outreach, research, and teaching activities include interaction with children. A small number of commencing students are children.

2.2 The Act requires UniSA to ensure that a criminal history assessment is undertaken before a person can occupy or be appointed to a prescribed position.

2.3 The Act provides that UniSA may require a criminal history assessment to be undertaken at any time for any person who is occupying a prescribed position or undertaking prescribed functions.

2.4 The Act requires UniSA to implement a procedure for reporting child abuse or neglect.

2.5 The Act requires UniSA to establish and maintain child safe environments.

3. Research activities

3.1 Research activities involving interactions with children must be approved in accordance with the UniSA Framework for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

4. Training and Awareness

4.1 UniSA will provide child protection training and/or information to ensure that the University is a child safe environment. Training may be provided in various ways, including under a general induction program, internal communication, external providers, or within a course curriculum.

4.2 From time to time, staff in prescribed positions may be directed to attend training. This may include Responding to Abuse and Neglect training (RAN-EC).

4.3 All UniSA staff should actively participate in training that is relevant to their role.

4.4 Staff and students who are required to undergo a criminal history assessment as a condition of professional registration must undertake any other training also required by their professional registration body.

5. Notification of abuse or neglect

5.1 While mandatory reporting applies only to parties in prescribed positions, a shared moral responsibility to contribute to a child safe environment applies to all members of the UniSA community.

5.2 If, in the course of carrying out their work or study functions, a UniSA staff member, student, or volunteer forms a reasonable suspicion that a child is being or has been abused or neglected, that person must report their suspicion to the Families SA Child Abuse Report Line as soon as possible by telephoning 13 14 78 or submitting an online report.

5.3 The report must include a statement of observations, information and opinions on which the person's suspicion is based.

5.4 The person must also report their suspicions to the Director: Human Resources and Director: Student and Academic Services if the suspicions relate to another UniSA staff member or student. UniSA may take action in accordance with relevant policies or instruments as applicable.

5.5 UniSA recognises that support may be required for any party when a report is made. As different parties have different needs, UniSA will provide specific information or services to children, students, or staff.

6. Criminal history assessments

6.1 Where UniSA is required to obtain information about a person's criminal history, it will do so by obtaining a criminal history assessment and letter of clearance from the Department of Communities and Social Inclusion screening unit.

6.2 The criminal history assessment may include information about charges or convictions for offences committed in South Australia or elsewhere. The authorised screening unit may use this information to notify UniSA of the relevant person's suitability for child-related employment.

6.3 In lieu of undergoing a criminal history assessment, UniSA may accept a criminal history assessment conducted within the preceding three years by another organisation. The criminal history assessment must have been obtained for the purpose of working with children in a comparable role.


7. Recruitment

7.1 It may be a condition of appointment to a position at UniSA for a person to undergo a criminal history assessment. The requirement to undergo a criminal history assessment will be clearly stated in the position description, advertisement, selection process, or employment contract.

7.2 When deciding whether to appoint a person to an available position, UniSA will determine whether or not a position is prescribed and consider the level of risk of harm to children posed by an adverse criminal history assessment. UniSA will also take into account personal, contextual, and situational factors when determining the risk of harm. The criminal history assessment will be undertaken at the final stage of the recruitment process.

7.3 If a criminal history assessment cannot be obtained prior to making an offer to appoint, the preferred candidate will be required to sign a statutory declaration relating to their suitability to work with children. The candidate may then be appointed, but will be prohibited from carrying out any prescribed functions until the criminal history assessment has been received. If the assessment is adverse to the candidate, the appointment may be terminated immediately without notice on the basis that the candidate provided false or misleading information under his or her statutory declaration.

7.4 At any time before or after appointing a person to a prescribed position, UniSA may request further information about the person's criminal history assessment from the person or the
organisation that provided the assessment. If this further information changes the University's perceptions about risk of harm to children, UniSA may terminate the appointment.

7.5 Any decision based on receipt of an adverse criminal history assessment will be made subject to the principles of natural justice.

7.6 While evidence of criminal history unrelated to a risk of harm to children will not automatically preclude a person from obtaining or maintaining employment at UniSA, UniSA reserves the right to decide whether or not to engage or retain an individual to work with children.


8. Transitional Arrangements

8.1 Where an existing staff member is required to undergo a criminal history assessment and the results of that assessment are adverse to the staff member, the staff member will be provided with an opportunity to respond, in accordance with the principles of natural justice.

8.2 If the Director: Human Resources determines that the adverse assessment means that the staff member is not suited to perform his or her position, the Director: Human Resources will determine the appropriate action to take, in accordance with any applicable procedures under the relevant industrial agreement.

8.3 Existing staff who refuse to undergo a criminal history assessment may not continue in a prescribed position or move to a different prescribed position. The Director: Human Resources will manage refusal to undergo a criminal history assessment in accordance with any applicable procedures under the relevant industrial agreement.

9. Changes to Duties/Functions

9.1 From time to time, a position that is not prescribed may attract new compliance obligations under the Act. Staff should notify their local human resources officer if they are involved in any work that may require proximity to, contact with, or access to information about children, and comply with any directions subsequently given.

9.2 Staff may be required to undertake work in other jurisdictions that involves compliance with the child protection laws of that other state. Staff must adhere to any additional compliance requirements.

10. Costs

10.1 Criminal history assessments remain current for a period of three (3) years. Staff in prescribed positions are required to meet the costs of and undergo further criminal history assessments at intervals no later than three years from the date an assessment was last obtained, to maintain their currency.

10.3 The following criminal history assessment costs must be met by the person concerned, and will not be met by UniSA:

a. assessment required as a condition of a person's professional registration;
b. assessment required for successful appointment to a prescribed position at UniSA;
c. assessment required for participation in a secondment, placement, or training opportunity.

11. Record Keeping

11.1 Criminal history assessment records are stored in a secured location for a maximum period of three months, and can be accessed only by authorised staff. After three months, assessment reports are destroyed.

11.2 UniSA retains confirmation that a criminal history assessment has been obtained for relevant positions, a statement of how an individual's criminal history assessment affected decision-
making about that person's suitability to work with children, and applicable statutory declarations.

11.3 Staff and students must notify UniSA of changes to their criminal history assessment as soon as practicable.

12. International Applicants

12.1 International applicants must comply with any directions given by UniSA for providing evidence that demonstrates suitability to work with children that could be used in lieu of a criminal history assessment.

13. Exempt parties or activities

13.1 The Act exempts certain positions and activities from the requirement to undergo a criminal
history assessment. Queries about whether particular positions or activities are subject to the Act should be directed to the Responsible Officer.

14. Children of staff and students

14.1 UniSA recognises that staff and students may occasionally need to bring their children onto UniSA premises. The following conditions apply:

a. Caregivers are solely responsible for supervising their children while on UniSA premises.
b. Children suffering serious communicable medical conditions are not permitted onto UniSA
premises.
c. Children may enter a learning activity only where the lecturer/tutor consents. In consenting, the lecturer/tutor must take into account whether learning materials discussed in the activity are suitable for children.
d. Children must not enter potentially unsafe premises such as laboratories, workshops, and construction sites.


15. Learning and teaching activities

15.1 Any newly proposed or continuing learning and teaching activities involving children must obtain prior approval from the head of school.

15.2 Written parental consent must be obtained for a child to participate in a UniSA learning and teaching activity. The consent form must include detailed information about the activity, contact details for relevant UniSA staff, and an assurance that the activity has been approved by the head of school.

15.3 UniSA staff conducting or participating in learning and teaching activities that involve children must ensure that any face to face contact with a child is undertaken in the presence of another adult.

15.4 Recordings of learning and teaching activities should ensure that child participants cannot be identified. Recordings of learning and teaching activities must be managed in accordance with privacy requirements.


1See definitions below

2 A relevant body approved to make judgement on a national police check includes:

 

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