EHDVSI is a Child Safe Organisation committed to the safety, wellbeing, participation and empowerment of children and young people who come into contact with our service. We have a zero tolerance for the abuse and neglect of children and young people. For the purposes of this policy the terms ‘child’, ‘children’ and ‘young people’ refer to persons under the age 18 years.
As an organisation, EHDVSI is committed to the 11 Child Safe Standards which are reflected in all levels of service from governance through to clinical decision making, codes of conduct and human resources policy and practices. EHDVSI is committed to the safety, participation and empowerment of all children.
As the primary specialist domestic and family violence service in South West Victoria, EHDVSI is committed to the implementation of the recommendations made by the 2016 Royal Commission into Family Violence. These recommendations aim to ensure that funding for therapeutic interventions and counselling for children and young people are prioritised, that crisis accommodation services meet the needs of children and services develop a broader range of supported accommodation options for young people and that children are included in an applicant’s family violence intervention order.
EHDVSI is committed to ensuring all reasonable precautions are taken to prevent the abuse of a child by an individual associated with the organisation while the child is under the care, supervision or authority of the organisation.
The Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic), defines child abuse as:
- a sexual offence committed against a child
- grooming for sexual conduct with a child under the age of 16 under section 49M(1) of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)
- physical violence against a child
- causing serious emotional or psychological harm to a child
- serious neglect of a child
The experience of domestic and family violence in childhood can be particularly devastating to overall childhood development, physically, emotionally and psychologically. As such, children are a primary target group in the delivery of family violence services.
Given the vulnerability of children and young people, their safety and wellbeing is considered paramount and our clinical decision making processes reflect this. Where any conflict between the interests of the parent and child exists, then the safety and wellbeing of children will take precedence.
EHDVSI is committed to including the voices of children and young people in everything we do and in doing so acknowledges that ways must be found to address the power imbalance between adults and children to ensure their voices are heard.
Children are able to access EHDVSI in their own right if they meet the criteria for being assessed as a mature minor. While this is the case, EHDVSI has a commitment to providing services to children in the context of their family, therefore parental consent is always preferred and encouraged where it is safe to do so.
In order to manage risks to children and young people engaged in our service EHDVSI has robust recruitment and screening processes in place to ensure the suitability of all workers, volunteers, students and board members. We also have processes in place to ensure that our workforce undertakes regular professional development in relation to recognising and responding to child abuse and neglect and reporting obligations.
Our commitment extends to the cultural safety of Aboriginal children, the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, providing a safe environment for children and young people with a disability and to providing a welcome and inclusive environment for children who identify as LGBTIQA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or questioning, intersex and asexual).