"The support, advice and training provided by Child Wise has been pivotal in our organisation implementing a 'Child Protection Policies and Procedures' framework that specifically meets the needs of the context within which we work. Even more importantly, our partnership with Child Wise enabled UCC to professionally provide a higher standard of care and protection to young people and our staff." - Uniting Church Camping
Child Wise’s approach to building 'Child Safe Organisations’ recognises that efforts to prevent child abuse will only be effective when considering a child’s safety and wellbeing holistically. Our Certification Program looks not only at the risks of abuse, but how children’s voices are heard. By undertaking the Child Safe Certification program, your organisation can be recognised as a leader in child safety and wellbeing, and be confident that children will be better protected.
Standards for a Child Safe Organisation
Child Wise established the ‘12 Standards for a Child Safe Organisation’ (the Standards) to create a framework for building open, transparent, and accountable organisations.
These Standards form the overall requirements that will ensure organisations are safer for children . There can be many barriers to becoming a child safe organisation - fear, denial, a lack of resources, lack of knowledge, complacency, group think and entrenched and/or closed cultures. If fully adopted, the Standards act to combat those barriers to establishing a child safe organisation.
Child Wise’s Standards encompass prevention measures that target specific environmental and situational factors within each organisation. They consider the primary, secondary and tertiary aspects of the public health model, from prevention of abuse, to identifying and intervening with vulnerable children, right through to responding to allegations and instances of abuse. We do so by applying a risk management framework informed by situational crime prevention, and by using a continuous improvement framework to build sustainable organisational change .
The Standards are deliberately broad, allowing them to be refined and tailored when applied across sectors or organisations with varying and specific need and requirements.
The process of implementing the Standards is not intended to be a challenge for organisations, nor is it designed to impose burdensome requirements and regulations on the daily work of the organisation. Instead, the Standards are intended to simplify and guide the process of improving the safety and protection of children and young people, and to provide education and clarity to staff and volunteers. They also help our clients to develop clear and simple compliance mechanisms, and to become child safer in terms of their activities and practices.
A child safe organisation is founded and sustained on a commitment and set of values that have the child’s wellbeing at its core. We know that there are sometimes characteristics that organisations have that may directly enable and facilitate unsafe situations or behaviours such as grooming of children, and abuse of children by both adult offenders and other children who abuse children. Without the education that the Standards enable, organisations may have these characteristics without being aware they exist.
Child Safety and Wellbeing
There are various types of child abuse: sexual, physical, emotional , neglect and exposure to family violence . Child sexual abuse is rarely isolated. Child abuse can be multi-dimensional and incorporate multiple abuses. The research shows that children who have been exposed to other forms of abuse become far more vulnerable to sexual abuse. Child Wise’s standards for creating child safe organisations focus on all aspects of child safety and wellbeing across an organisation. All forms of abuse have terrible impacts upon children; all forms of abuse must be prevented
The risk of unsafe situations or behaviours being present in organisations can be mitigated by the, implementation of strong systems and policies to create a child safe organisation. Essential is the connection and implementation between policy and practice. This does not only mean that a child is protected from harm, but where a child is able to develop in a safe and child friendly environment.
The Child Safe Organisation Certification is a holistic approach that considers our clients policies, practices, activities, culture and awareness of child abuse and preventative approaches, and how they are implemented. The Certification process allows our clients to demonstrate that they have achieved and maintained best practice standards for protecting children and young people from abuse and exploitation, and to create spaces where children are safe and feel empowered to speak up.
Child Wise’s Certification program provides a flexible approach for organisations to ensure the safety of children by building tailored and sustainable Child Safety policies, practices and procedures.
Child Wise recognises that there is variability across and within sectors in organisations level of child safety. Child Wise also recognises that while the Standards must be met for Certification, each organisation needs an individualised approach to build child safe cultures, and robust systems and processes to protect children in their specialised area of service delivery. Acknowledging that variability, and the diverse requirements, resource capabilities, and risk profiles of organisations, the Child Wise Certification process is tailored to each organisations size, business type, existing policies, practices and culture.
The process of Child Wise Certification against the Standards commences with a Needs Assessment, an analysis of organisational child safety, and identification of gaps in the organisational child safety governance and culture. This process is essentially a diagnostic, aimed at establishing where an organisation is currently at in terms of its consistency against the Standards.
Child Safety in organisations is a continuum. While there are many similarities for children’s services, each sector and industry engages with children in different places and settings, which will present different types of risk, and require differentiated approaches to prevention within those organisations. There are organisations that are far more advanced in relation to Child Safety governance and culture than their counterparts.
Child Wise, together with our clients, will also assess if the client organisation needs to commence the Certification project with initial tailored Child Safety Education Program so the organisation’s Leadership team can be trained in child safety and complete a SWOT analysis that will form the basis for commencing the Needs Assessment. Many of our client’s leadership teams find the Child Safety Education Program is what they need to help them understand child safety within their organisation.
The Certification Needs Assessment process includes:
A site visit and interviews with a range of representatives across all levels of the organisation including management, frontline staff and clients/children (where appropriate).
An in depth desktop review of all current and relevant policies, practices and procedures.
The completion of child safety questionnaires and/or interviews with a range of representatives across the organisation including management, frontline staff and clients and children (where appropriate).
At the conclusion of the Needs Assessment, Child Wise compiles a detailed report for the CEO and/or organisational leaders. This report, written with the specific organisation’s circumstances in mind, will include advice and recommendations for building transparent and comprehensive preventative child safe systems and cultures to enable Certification.
Once the Needs Assessment has been completed the report is provided to the organisation for consideration of the next steps. The report clearly sets out the identified gaps and provides specific recommendations for Certification.
After receiving our client’s feedback Child Wise will then provide a Child Safe Organisation Proposal with a broad project plan and indicative costs, for the organisation to consideration.
The Certification process is often a culture change process for organisations, and like any organisational change it can take time . The organisation may decide to adopt some or all of Child Wise's Needs Assessment recommendations and stage their approach over time.
Given the extent of variability across organisations it is difficult to estimate exactly how long the Certification process will take, but we usually recommend a maximum of 12 months to gain Certification. Child Wise works with our clients on an approach to becoming Certified so the timing suits the organisation.
Certification is a formalised contractual agreement for a period of three years. Sustainability of the standards is vital in a child safe organisation and there are three steps during the Certification period that are undertaken:
Year 1 - Organisation completes a Child Safe Organisation Self Audit (against the Standards) and provides it to Child Wise for verification.
Year 2 - Includes a Self Assessment and a meeting with Child Wise to look at any new Certification requirements. Upon self assessment verification Child Wise will consult with the organisation to establish ongoing requirements.
Year 3 - Child Wise will undertake an analysis – similar to that outlined in the Needs Assessment stage - to ensure the organisation is building on and maintaining child safety standards, governance and culture for continuous improvement.
By seeking Child Safe Organisation Certification, you will be demonstrating your organisation’s commitment to child safety and wellbeing to the entire community .