January 11, 2016

Safeguarding Children – What is the program all about?

Many of you will know about the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF), Safeguarding Children Program. The ACF took on the Safeguarding Children Program (SCP) in 2009 from the Australian Council for Children and Youth Organisations ( ACCYO).

The Safeguarding Children Program helps organisations to implement best practice policies and standards to protect children and young people in their care. The Program also helps organisations promote a culture that protects children and young people from abuse and exploitation.

This Program is a unique voluntary accreditation scheme for organisations, who take seriously their duty of care to children and young people; as well as their families. The Safeguarding Program assists organisations to systematically increase their capacity to keep children and young people safe from abuse and exploitation while they participate in services and activities.

The Program personnel support organisations in an ongoing way to:

  • enhance and maintain a collective culture that promotes the safety of children and young people;
  • review, design and execute specific policies and procedures to protect children and young people;
  • provide relevant training to management, staff and volunteers;
  • engage the involvement of children, young people and their families in safeguarding practices;
  • implement a consistent set of endorsed operational standards at every level; and,
  • respond effectively to situations in which a child is abused or exploited by an individual involved in the management or delivery of a service or activity.

The Safeguarding Program staff will work alongside organisations to implement the Seven Safeguarding Standards of Accreditation. The end result of this successful process is a 3 year Safeguarding Children Program Accreditation.

When implemented as a whole, the Safeguarding Children Accreditation Program provides a best practice approach to creating child safe organisations. The standards have been used as the basis to develop compliance resources for volunteers, host organisations and core partner organisations involved in the AVID program funded by AusAID, as well forming a foundation for the child protection framework used by the Australian Defence Force for its Cadet Programs.

The Australian Childhood Foundation has conducted a factor analysis of the contributing factors within organisations that lead to children and young people not being adequately protected from abuse and exploitation. This research has identified four key organisational vulnerabilities as described below:

  1. Lack of awareness
  2. Lack of knowledge
  3. Lack of confidence
  4. Lack of processes and support

Typically, abuse by volunteers or employees of organisations involves the presence of at least two of the identified risk factors. In these circumstances, the whole of the organisation is exposed for not adequately exercising its duty of care to the children and young people it services or supports.

The Safeguarding Children Program is underpinned by the application of seven key standards. These standards are represented in the diagram below.