Child Safe Organisation Project
The Child Safe Organisation Project (CSOP) is aiming to make systemic change in the approach to promoting children and young people’s rights, safety and wellbeing across all areas of the Department.
Working alongside families and caregivers to make a difference in the lives of children and young people is a privilege; ensuring they remain safe from harm is our duty.
While we each have a personal responsibility to uphold the rights of children and young people, it cannot be done alone. That is why the Department of Health is taking a systemic approach to enhance the way we work with children and young people.
Protecting children is everyone’s business
The CSOP project is currently underway as part of the Tasmanian Government’s response to the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations and associated child safe standards endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments in February 2019. The project will include systemic change to enhance the way we work with vulnerable people, with a specific focus on children and young people.
The National Principles for Child Safe Organisations include:
- Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance, and culture.
- Children and young people are informed about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.
- Families and communities are informed and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing.
- Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice.
- People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice.
- Processes to respond to complaints and concerns are child focused.
- Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training.
- Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed.
- Implementation of the national child safe principles is regularly reviewed and improved.
- Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.
The objective of the CSOP is to ensure that we all have a strong, common understanding of child safety and wellbeing, that children’s voices are heard, and that they and their families are involved in decisions affecting them. Implementing the National Principles and standards through this project will give us the tools to contribute to the safety and wellbeing of all children, meeting their specific needs, rights, and interests within a child safe culture.
The Project will first look at how patient safety processes can be adapted and enhanced to address the specific safety needs of children including processes for raising and recording child safety concerns. It will then consider aspects such as consumer engagement and experience, communication, monitoring and continuous quality improvement and preventative measures before moving into identifying risks and strategies to promote child safety and wellbeing.
The Project will seek to build on existing patient quality and safety approaches and incorporate a definition of a child safeguarding, a process for recording safeguarding concerns and for assessment of severity and risk.
A Child Safety and Wellbeing Framework will be developed including how we will address the National Principles. It will include rights of children and young people, a definition of safeguarding in the Department of Health, governance arrangements, education and training approaches, and responding to safeguarding concerns.
Work will include an approach to safeguarding investigations, ensuring safeguarding concerns are properly analysed and understood so that effective strategies to eliminate or reduce risk, reoccurrence or harm can be implemented, and that instances of deliberate harm are addressed accordingly.
There will also be a focus on supporting children to raise safety concerns, mandatory reporting awareness and training, and ensuring feedback is provided to people who raise concerns. Existing open disclosure policies will continue to apply. Using the rights of children and young people as a base, the Project will develop a list of agreed behaviours to support those rights to provide to children, families, carers and staff.
The second stage of the Project will look at consumer experience processes, and any opportunities to consider the specific needs of children, with a focus on safety and wellbeing. Existing consumer engagement processes will be reviewed to identify ways to increase children’s participation, with consideration of a protocol to support age‑appropriate engagement with children.
Communicating with children (and families) on what to expect, how they should feel safe, and what to do if they do not feel safe is a key element of the second Project stage. Resources will be developed to support communicating with children around safety and wellbeing. While this is focused on the experiences of children, the Project will also look at supporting staff to communicate with children when a safety concern is raised with a staff member.
Continuous improvement is an important element of the National Principles and the Project will look at monitoring tools, including auditing and KPIs, and processes for regular reporting regarding the child safety and wellbeing.
National Principles for Child Safe Organisations include specific preventative measures around physical and online environments. The third stage of the Project will look at information management and privacy, and tools for evaluating risks in the physical environments where we provide care.
The final stage of the Project will work with individual areas to assess risks and consider strategies that promote child safety and wellbeing, taking into consideration the specific aspects that apply to each area, the care provided and the environment relevant to that area.
Staff and volunteers will be supported through ongoing education and awareness, training, and functional systems to know, understand, and practice child safe behaviours and boundaries with confidence and competence. This training will take a two-phased approach, with general awareness training and accessible resources being rolled out in 2022, and specific training packages being finalised towards the later stages of the project.
The CSOP involves a consultative and co-design component with a variety of key stakeholders, including consumers, families and carers, clinicians, volunteers, and other staff.
There will be a focus on ensuring that children, families, carers, providers, communities, staff, and volunteers are involved in the development and review of the Department’s approach to child safety and wellbeing throughout each stage of the project. The Department will also work in partnership with other agencies. The expertise, experience and understanding of what happens on the ground in delivering quality care from our stakeholders will shape an effective approach to child safety and wellbeing that is workable for everyone.
The project is scheduled to be completed by December 2022.
Looking for more information?
- Find out more about the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations.
- Find out more about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Contact the project team at [email protected]th.tas.gov.au.