One of the strong characteristics of the CGGS community is that it is a welcoming and caring community, and we know that in safe environments students thrive – in their learning and their wellbeing.
It is also not surprising that one of the key compliance requirements of schools is to be a safe environment for young people, and to this effect we adhere to the Child Safe Standards. As we are required to provide updates to parents, I have asked one of our Counsellors, Paula Kolivas to provide an overview of the standards.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact myself, Cathy Poyser (Deputy Principal/Head of Senior school) or Paul Donohue (Head of Junior School).
With best wishes,
Child Safe Standards
In 2016, the Victorian Government introduced Ministerial Order 870 – Child Safe Standards – Managing the risk of child abuse in schools. The Child Safe Standards (CSS) were part of the state government’s response to the 2013 Betrayal of Trust Inquiry which investigated the handling of child abuse in religious and other non-government institutions.
This Order requires all Victorian schools to embed a culture of no tolerance for child abuse and prescribes seven standards related to reducing the risk of abuse and ensuring the appropriate response and reporting of child abuse to authorities. Although it recognises that all children are vulnerable, the Order requests a particular focus on students who are more vulnerable due to their abilities, indigenous, cultural or linguistic background.
One of the most effective strategies in reducing the risk of child abuse, is educating all members of the community. At CGGS biannual training is mandatory for all teaching staff, professional services staff and maintenance staff to ensure that they develop their understanding and confidence to identify and appropriately respond to any suspicions or allegations of abuse, grooming or other misconduct. Also, all senior school and junior school students receive age-appropriate presentations by the School Counsellors regarding how to identify inappropriate behaviour and more importantly where to seek help and support.
The following CGGS staff are the current designated Child Safety Officers:
> Debbie Dunwoody – Principal
> Cathy Poyser – Deputy Principal / Head of Senior School
> Paul Donohue – Head of Junior School
> Kath Woolcock – Deputy Head of Senior School
> Kim Hepworth – Deputy Head of Senior School
> Shane Maycock – Deputy Head of Senior School
> Emma Hinchliffe – Deputy Head of Junior School
> Rev Helen Creed – School Chaplain
> Paula Kolivas – School Counsellor
> Beth Sarlos – School Counsellor
Their responsibilities include training staff and students, offering support to all students, parents/carers and people reporting abuse, clarifying the allegations and suspicions of abuse, and where required, reporting the concerns to the relevant authorities – DHHS Child Protection Services, the Police and/or the Commission for Children and Young People.
Apart from staff and student training and education, CGGS has developed clear procedures for responding to allegations or suspected abuse and we regularly update our school policies, HR procedures and audit the school’s physical environment to ensure that our organisational culture reflects the CGGS commitment to zero tolerance of abuse.
Relevant policies that parents/guardians may access via our school website include the:
> Child Safety Policy
> Child Safety Reporting Policy
> Code of Conduct Policies – staff and students
> Working With Children Check Policy
All our students have a right to feel safe on and off campus. We want our students and parents/carers to feel confident that CGGS is an organisation committed to the physical, emotional and sexual safety of all students. It is the responsibility of all adults on campus to adhere to the legal and moral obligations related to Ministerial Order 870. This includes all employed staff and as well all our students who are over 18 years of age.
If you have any concerns regarding your child’s safety or the safety of any other child in our community, we strongly encourage you to contact the Principal, Heads of School, or the Counsellors to discuss the matter. We promise to respond to any concerns in a sensitive, confidential and respectful manner.
With best wishes,