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Child Safe Standards

Child Safe Standards Update

At the start of the 2016 school year we communicated with all families, the introduction of the Victorian Government’s Ministerial Order No. 870 – Child Safe Standards – Managing the risk of child abuse in schools.

Our Camberwell Girls Child Safe policies promote child safety, reduce risk and develop and improve procedures for responding to allegations of abuse or suspected abuse.

Each year we will remind our community of the standards and give an update on our implementation of the standards at Camberwell Girls.  Our Heads of School, Cathy Poyser and Paul Donohue, work closely with the Student Counsellors, Paula Kolivas and Beth Sarlos, in implementing the standards.  They have provided an update below.

Debbie Dunwoody
Principal

 

Educating and empowering students is another requirement of the Child Safe Standards and one that we have been actively working on since the Order’s inception. Organisations where children and young people feel free to question and speak up about both child abuse and behaviour that may lead to it, are organisations that are the most child safe.

As a consequence of our commitment and work in this area, Camberwell Girls has become a leading School in the Department of Education and Training’s Respectful Relationships initiative.  We have most recently held the inaugural meeting of the Inner East group of over 200 partner schools at Camberwell Girls and we are pleased to be working directly with ten partner schools as their Leading School.   The initiative addresses issues of Family and Domestic Violence and Child Safety, with the aim of educating and equipping young people with a clear understanding of what constitutes a respectful relationship and empowering them to have positive expectations for their own future relationships.  In this regard we are pleased to say that a number of independent boys’ schools are part of our cluster, as we feel that the education of young men is critical for this initiative to succeed.

The Year Level Coordinators, Health Teachers and Form Teachers have worked with the students on positive relationships, including discussion around positive communication, respectful behaviour, rights and responsibilities within relationships.  All students have taken part in discussions, scenarios and case studies around appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.

Throughout Semester One the School Counsellors presented to each Year Level in both Junior School and Senior School, addressing the following topics and affirming our commitment to our students’ education and wellbeing:

– Camberwell Girls cares about our students’ feelings and safety;
– We reminded students of our policy on child safety and provided examples of when it is necessary to disclose issues of concern;
– Encouraged discussion about experiences and feelings, with an aim to building student confidence and communication skills;
– Provided education on appropriate and inappropriate adult behaviour and how to respond to the signs of inappropriate behaviour; and
– Reminded students who to go for help if they have a question or concern and that there are a number of nominated staff (Child Protection Officers) they can go to.

The overall message delivered to students was that it is ok to speak up, with the Counsellors reinforcing to students that they will never get into trouble for speaking to trusted adults, they will be believed, they will be assisted and that nothing is ever too bad to talk about.

The information was presented in a sensitive and age appropriate manner, being mindful of the cognitive level of each age group.  If you have not already discussed this as a family, it may be worth asking your daughter what she learnt in the sessions.

The Child Safe Standards also require that organisations (staff, volunteers and contractors) have the skills and capability to follow the appropriate policies and procedures of the School.  Over the course of this year our Counsellors have provided further training to all our ELC, Junior School and Senior School staff to enhance staff confidence in identifying and responding to matters regarding suspicion or allegation of abuse.  For those of you who have volunteered at a function at Camberwell Girls, you will have been asked to complete your Working with Children’s Check, which forms part of our compliance with the Child Safe Standards and our commitment to Child Safety at Camberwell Girls.

In further engaging with our parents, our current Head of Health and Physical Education, Ms Kath Woolcock, has been instrumental in the establishment of our Parent Wellbeing Focus Group.  The aim of this group is to work collaboratively and to discuss and think creatively about how we can best work to promote positive wellbeing for the Camberwell Girls community. Our focus is always on the ongoing physical and emotional wellbeing of all our students.

If you have any concerns regarding your child’s safety or the safety of any other child in our community, please feel free to contact the Principal, Heads of School, or the Counsellors.

You can obtain further information regarding these matters via the following sites:

PROTECT Child Safe Standards

Ministerial Order No 870 – Child Safe Standards

You can also access the CGGS Child Safety Policy and Child Safety Code of Conduct Policy on our website.

 

Cathy Poyser                                                             Paul Donohue                             Beth Sarlos & Paula Kolivas
Deputy Principal / Head of Senior School                Head of Junior School                    Counsellors

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