Child Protection Policy


1. PURPOSE
This policy provides a framework for protecting children from exploitation and abuse of all kinds in ALWS supported programs and within ALWS itself.

2. SCOPE
This policy applies to all ALWS employees, volunteers, study tour participants, members of congregational tours, board members, contractors and consultants (referred to as ‘personnel’). This policy also applies to ALWS implementing partners (referred to as ‘Partners’).

3. RATIONALE
Children throughout the world living in any socio-economic context are at risk of child abuse and exploitation. However, recorded data illustrates that children living in poverty are at the greatest risk of a wide range of forms of child abuse and exploitation. Forty million children below the age of 15 suffer from abuse and neglect and require social assistance and health care; an estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked every year; over one million children enter the commercial child sex trade annually; 250 million children are involved in child labour, more than 180 million are working in hazardous situation or conditions; one in seven girls will experience some form of sexual abuse in their childhood1 and children with disabilities are 1.7 times more likely to suffer from violence
than their non-disabled peers
2.

Added to this is the fact that children in emergency situations are especially susceptible to abuse and exploitation. In an emergency or crisis situation, children are vulnerable when they become part of a displaced or traumatised population. Other factors that increase a child’s vulnerability to abuse and exploitation include disability, or being orphaned, displaced, homeless or abandoned.

Exploitation and abuse adversely affects a child’s development and well-being. Children who are exploited and abused have a greater likelihood of long term consequences such as mental health issues, reduced educational outcomes, drug and alcohol abuse and increased likelihood of coming into contact with the law.

While most child abuse occurs within families and communities, children also experience abuse and exploitation in organisations which are mandated to provide them with support and services. Therefore, Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS) is committed to following Christ’s example to care for children:

“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:14-16.

 

4. CONVENTIONS AND OBLIGATIONS

“Child Safe” Policy and Procedures of the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA)

Situations of sexual abuse and harassment against minors (persons under 18 years of age) are dealt with under the LCA’s Child Safe system.

The Child Safe Safety Management System is designed to promote the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual well being of young people, their families and caregivers. It is a commercial product which had its origins in the Scripture Union Movement. It is a highly regarded programme in the Australian community and has the endorsement of the LCA insurers.

www.childsafe.org.au
DFAT Child Protection PolicyDFAT’s Child Protection Policy provides a framework for protecting children from exploitation and abuse in the delivery of Australia’s overseas aid program. The policy applies to all DFAT staff, including those based overseas, volunteers and to all contractors, civil society organisations, individual contractors and Australian Volunteers for International Development core partners funded by DFAT.
http://www.DFAT.gov.au/aidissues/childprotection/Documents/DFAT-child-protection-policy.pdf
ACFID Code of ConductThe ACFID Code of Conduct is a voluntary, self-regulatory sector code of good practice that aims to improve international development outcomes and increase stakeholder trust by enhancing transparency and accountability of signatory organisations.
http://www.acfid.asn.au/code-of-conduct/files/code-of-conduct
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the ChildThe Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention just for them because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not.
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx

 

ALWS is dedicated to promoting children’s basic rights and ensuring that their welfare and physical security is recognised, safeguarded and protected in accordance with international standards. ALWS implements its work in a way that is consistent with the “Child Safe” Policy and Procedures of the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA), the DFAT Child Protection Policy the ACFID Code of Conduct.


5. DEFINITIONS

ALWS regards children as those who are under the age of 18, in accordance with the DFAT Child Protection Policy and LCA Child Safe Policy. 

Abuse occurs when adults or other children hurt children either physically or in some other way. Abuse comes in many forms:

Emotional abuse refers to a parent or caregiver’s inappropriate verbal or symbolic acts toward a child or a pattern of failure over time to provide a child with adequate non-physical nurture and emotional availability It may include a repeated rejection or belittling of a child, or the making of threats, which has the intent to scare and frighten. It can also result from excessive demands that place expectations on a child beyond their capacity, or by witnessing forms of violence, including domestic violence. 

Neglect the failure by a parent or caregiver to provide a child (where they are in a position to do so) with the conditions that are culturally accepted as being essential for their physical and emotional development and well-being. In a development or emergency context, the risk of this form of abuse can also evident when someone uses their position to withhold assistance in order to gain favours or advantage. 

Physical abuse includes actions that cause harm and injury to a child. Physically abusive behaviour includes shoving, hitting, slapping, shaking, throwing, punching, kicking, biting, burning, strangling and poisoning. This form of abuse may be intentional, the indirect consequence of physical punishment or aggression, or arise from neglect where the child is exposed to physically dangerous and life-threatening situations.

Sexual abuse occurs if a child is pressured or forced to take part in any kind of sexual activity, whether or not the child is aware of, or consents to, what is happening. It is the use of a child for sexual gratification by an adult or significantly older child or adolescent. Sexually abusive behaviours can include fondling genitals, masturbation, oral sex, vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, finger or any other object, fondling breasts, voyeurism, exhibitionism and exposing the child to, or involving the child in, pornography. Sexual abuse may involve siblings or other family members, or persons outside the family.


Exploitation refers to one or more of the following:

  • Committing or coercing another person to commit acts of abuse against a child.
  • Possessing, controlling, producing, distributing, obtaining or transmitting child exploitation material (material that explicitly or implicitly depicts a child as a victim of torture, cruelty or physical abuse or material that represents a child who is engaged in, or appears to be engaged in a sexual pose or activity, or is in the presence of a person who is in engaged in, or appears to be engaged in, a sexual pose or activity)
  • Committing or coercing another person to commit an act of grooming (behaviour that makes it easier for an offender to procure a child for sexual activity), including online grooming.
  • Child labour – work that children should not be doing because they are too young to work, or because it is dangerous or otherwise unsuitable for them.


Contact with children: Working on an activity or in a position that involves or may involve contact with children, either under the position description or due to the nature of the work environment. This includes indirect contact with children in the community.

Working with children:
Being engaged in an activity with a child where the contact would reasonably be expected as a normal part of the activity and contact is not incidental to the activity.

Volunteer refers to unpaid community members who participate in ALWS activities for an extended or repeated period of time.

Casual Helper refers to unpaid community members who assist in ALWS activities in a capacity that:

  • Is for a short period of time (a day or less)
  • Is in an environment that is supervised by ALWS staff and, if at a hosting organisation, also by the staff of the hosting organisation.
  • If the activity involves contact with children, the helper is within sight or hearing of other adults at all times

6. GOAL
To promote the safety and wellbeing of all children accessing programs carried out or supported by ALWS to minimise the risk of abuse and exploitation of children.

7. OBJECTIVES AND IMPLEMENTATION
The objectives reflect ALWS’ practical approach to meeting this goal through and with its partners in overseas projects as well as in its operations within Australia. The objectives, followed by how they will be implemented, are:

7.1 To ensure that ALWS and its partners will not permit a person to have contact with children if they pose an unacceptable risk to children’s safety and well being.

  • By recruitment processes for all staff, contractors, board members and volunteers in contact with children that include requests for disclosure whether they have been charged with child exploitation offences, verbal referee checks and behavioural-based interview questions for candidates that apply for positions that involve working with children.
  • By induction processes for ALWS casual helpers that include signing the ALWS Casual Helper Code of Conduct.
    Criminal record checks before engagement in a position with contact with children for any personnel of ALWS or partners who will be involved in any part of any DFAT funded activity.
  • By induction processes for all personnel that involves signing a Code of Conduct that addresses child protection and by not engaging personnel if they refuse to sign it. ALWS’ Child Protection Code of Conduct and the Child Protection Code of Conduct of any partner involved in DFAT funded activities will meet DFAT minimum standards.
  • By a provision in all employment contracts that the organisation has the right to dismiss, suspend or transfer the employee to other duties if they breach the Child Protection Code of Conduct or fail to disclose a prior conviction or dismissal on child protection-related matters.

7.2 To ensure child safe environments

  • By confirming that partners have adequate child protection policies and procedures in
    place.


In the case that partners do not have adequate child protection policies and procedures, ALWS will provide support in their development and implementation.

An adequate child protection policy will include commitment by partners to:

  • Include recruitment processes for all personnel in contact with children that include criminal record checks before engagement (for all partners involved in DFAT funded activities, and for other partners when this is a realistic and effective way of avoiding child exploitation and abuse), verbal referee checks, requests for disclosure whether they have been charged with child exploitation offences, and behavioural-based interview questions for candidates that apply for positions that involve working with children.
  • Include documented reporting procedures for child exploitation and abuse allegations and policy non-compliance, including available sanctions for breaches.
  • Require all personnel to sign a child protection code of conduct.
  • Commit (through clear grounds in policies, contracts and human resource guidelines) to prevent a person from working with children if they pose an unacceptable risk to children.
  • Be subject to regular review at least every five years or earlier if warranted.


These policies must apply to all personnel, partners and subcontractors who are engaged by a contractor or civil society organisation to perform any part of a DFAT funded activity.

Adequate child protection procedures include:

  • Documented timeframes and materials used for training.
  • Documented and regularly reviewed risk assessments for activities that have contact with children. Risk assessments should identify risks, classify any high risk activities and document steps being taken to reduce or remove these risks.

    1. By all ALWS personnel being aware of and adhering to a documented Child Protection Reporting Procedure.
    2. By providing or supporting child protection training for ALWS personnel that is documented in the ALWS Child Protection Staff Training Register.
    3. By regularly monitoring and reporting on child protection related issues in the field.
    4. By supporting partners to include activities that raise the awareness of children, parents and the wider community on issues including child rights and prevention of child abuse, exploitation and trafficking

7.3 To consider Child Protection as part of risk management procedures

  • By risks to children being identified during initial risk assessments and managed for the duration of projects.
  • By the inclusion of risks to child protection being included in the Program Effectiveness Framework Risk Matrix and the ALWS risk matrix, both completed at least annually.

7.4 To support child friendly programs

  • By providing feedback to, and engaging in, discussion with partners to ensure that:

    1. The child who is capable of forming his or her own views has the right and
    opportunity to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child.3
    2. In actions concerning children, the best interests of the child or children shall be a
    primary consideration.
    3. The responsibilities, rights and duties of parents and guardians to provide for the
    upbringing and development of their children are respected.

  • By ensuring that in child focused projects, indicators and data are disaggregated by age and gender.

7.5 To ensure that protection and support to children does not discriminate

  • By recognising, in program design and implementation, the personal dignity and rights of children towards whom is owed a special responsibility and duty of care, respect, protection and assistance, regardless of their gender, race, colour, language, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, political or other beliefs, family background, economic status, physical or mental health, criminal background, or opinions, or those of their family
    members.

7.6 To incorporate the voices of children in shaping the development programs that affect them

  • By encouraging implementing partners to provide opportunities for children to seek, receive and impart information and ideas and to involve children in the identification, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages of the program cycle. This will include efforts to ensure inclusion of children with disabilities.

7.7 To ensure that the capture and use of children’s images and stories is done in a respectful and appropriate way

  • By ensuring ALWS and partner staff ensure depictions of children are respectful, dignified, truthful, culturally appropriate and do not reveal identifying information by following the processes found in the ALWS Child Protection Code of Conduct and ALWS Code of Conduct.
  • By only collecting stories and photos with the consent of children and their parents/guardians

7.8 A commitment to immediately report any concerns or allegations of child exploitation or abuse or non-compliance with the Child Protection Policy

  • By ensuring staff, volunteers and board members of ALWS and partner organisations are aware of and have access to the Child Protection Reporting Procedure.
  • By immediately notifying DFAT’s Child Protection Compliance Section if any personnel involved in a DFAT funded program are accused of, charged with, arrested for, or convicted of criminal offences relating to child exploitation and abuse.

7.9 Provision for policy review at least every three years

  • By taking into account implementation experience, as well as best practice standards and policies that are available at the time of the reviews and will be presented to the Board for consideration and approval.
  • By consulting with DFAT on Child Protection policy review (and this communication be documented).
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