Commitment to Child Safety

Make-A-Wish Australia is committed to safeguarding children and young people, always acting in their best interests to keep them safe.

We actively work to provide an environment where all children/young people, regardless of race, culture, religion, or ability, feel empowered to unlock their imaginations to discover their own unique wish in a world free from limitations and judgement.

We have zero tolerance for child abuse, and consider any form, inclusive of emotional, physical, sexual abuse or neglect, as intolerable under any circumstances.

Make-A-Wish Australia has a legal and moral responsibility to protect children and young people from harm and to ensure that any incidents of suspected child abuse are promptly and appropriately dealt with.

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • affirm Make-A-Wish Australia’s commitment to the safety and protection of children and young people.
  • facilitate the prevention of child abuse occurring within Make-A-Wish Australia, ensuring a zero tolerance policy.
  • work towards an organisation culture of child safety.
  • prevent child abuse within Make-A-Wish Australia.
  • ensure that all parties are aware of their responsibilities for identifying possible occasions for child abuse and for establishing controls and procedures for preventing such abuse and/or detecting such abuse when it occurs.
  • provide guidance to all Make-A-Wish Australia representatives as to action that should be taken where they suspect any abuse within or outside of the organisation.
  • provide a clear statement to staff/volunteers/contractors and all other representatives forbidding such abuse.
  • provide assurance that any and all suspected abuse will be reported and fully investigated.

Scope

This policy applies to anyone who represents Make-A-Wish Australia, such as staff, contractors, volunteers, board members, business partners, suppliers and ambassadors. This policy applies to all Make-A-Wish Australia representatives.

Policy

Make-A-Wish Australia is committed to promoting and protecting at all times the best interests of children and young people involved in its programs.

All children, regardless of their gender, race, religious beliefs, age, disability, sexual orientation, or family or social background, have equal rights to protection from abuse.

Make-A-Wish Australia has zero tolerance for child abuse.

Everyone working at Make-A-Wish is responsible for the care and protection of children within our care and reporting information about suspected abuse.

Child protection is a shared responsibility between Make-A-Wish Australia, all employees, workers, contractors, associates, members and all other representatives of the Make-A-Wish Australia community.

Make-A-Wish Australia will consider the opinions of children and young people and use their opinions to develop child protection policies.

Make-A-Wish Australia supports and respects all children, staff and volunteers. Make-A-Wish Australia is committed to the cultural safety of Aboriginal children, and those from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, and to provide a safe environment for children living with disability.

If any person believes a child is at immediate risk of abuse, telephone 000.

Procedures

Responsibilities

Board

The Board of Make-A-Wish Australia has ultimate responsibility for the detection and prevention of child abuse and is responsible for ensuring appropriate and effective internal control systems are in place.

The Board is also responsible for ensuring that appropriate policies and procedures and a Child Protection Code of Conduct are in place.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

The CEO of Make-A-Wish Australia is responsible for:

  • Dealing with and investigating reports of child abuse;
  • Ensuring that all staff, contractors and volunteers are aware of relevant laws, organisational policies and procedures, and the organisation’s Code of Conduct;
  • Ensuring that all adults within the Make-A-Wish Australia community are aware of their obligation to report suspected sexual abuse of a child in accordance with these policies and procedures;
  • Ensuring that all staff, contractors and volunteers are aware of their obligation to observe the Code of Conduct (particularly as it relates to child safety);
  • Providing support for staff, contractors and volunteers in undertaking their child protection responsibilities;
  • Ensuring that access to training and development and emotional support (access to an independent counsellor) is provided to employees and volunteers; and
  • Manage enquiries, including from the media, relating to suspected child abuse.

Managers

  • Promote child safety at all times, in particular to employees within their team;
  • Assess the risk of child abuse within their area of control and eradicate or minimise any risk to the extent possible;
  • Educate employees about the prevention and detection of child abuse and ensure that they have completed the mandatory training;
  • Facilitate the reporting of any inappropriate behaviour or suspected abusive activities; and
  • Ensure that new employees in their team receive the required staff induction as it relates to child safety.

Management should be familiar with the types of abuse that might occur within their area of responsibility and be alert for any indications of such conduct.

Child Protection Officers

The following persons are nominated Child Protection Officers at Make-A-Wish Australia:

  • CEO
  • Head of Wishes
  • Head of Volunteer Programmes

Child Protection Officers must:

  • Understand and comply with Make-A-Wish Australia’s Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy and Code of Conduct, including the requirement for reporting any suspected child abuse to the relevant state and territory child protection authority or police department;
  • Fully cooperate with relevant state and territory child protection authority or police department in their investigation of suspected child abuse;
  • Report any suspicions or complaints of child abuse immediately to the CEO and to any external regulatory body such as the police;
  • Provide advice and support to fellow Make-A-Wish representatives to assist them to comply with the Child Safe Standards and related policies and procedures;
  • Respond to any changes in legislation and promptly advise the CEO who will in turn advise the Board;
  • Act as a key contact for wish families on any safeguarding children matter; and
  • Ensure complaints are accurately and confidentially recorded within the Salesforce Database, and Incident Register.

Make-A-Wish Representatives:

Share the responsibility for the prevention and detection of child abuse, and must:

  • Familiarise themselves with the relevant laws, the Code of Conduct, and Make-A-Wish Australia’s policy and procedures in relation to child protection, and comply with all requirements;
  • Report any reasonable belief that a child’s safety is at risk to the relevant authorities (such as the police and/or the state-based child protection service) and fulfil their obligations as mandatory reporters;
  • Report any suspicion that a child’s safety may be at risk immediately to a Child Protection Officer (or, if a Child Protection Officer is involved in the suspicion, to the CEO. If the CEO is involved in the suspicion, to a member of the Board);
  • Provide an environment that is supportive of all children/young people’s emotional and physical safety;
  • Complete all compulsory training and development;
  • Hold a valid Working With Children Check (WWC) as in accordance with their relevant state legislation.
  • Ensure that Make-A-Wish Australia is linked to their WWC, so that the organisation is notified if there are any changes to their WWC (e.g. it expires); and
  • Immediately notify their supervisor or one of the Child Protection Officers should their WWC expire, be revoked, or they believe it is at risk of being revoked.
  • Notify a Child Protection Officer if they identify a risk to child safety or, procedures they believe should be put into practice to ensure risks are minimised

Employment of New Personnel

Make-A-Wish Australia undertakes a comprehensive recruitment and screening process for all new representatives (e.g. staff, volunteers, board members) which aims to:

  • Promote and protect the safety of all children under the care of the organisation;
  • Identify the safest and most suitable people who share the values of Make-A-Wish Australia and its commitment to protect children; and
  • Prevent a person from working/volunteering at Make-A-Wish Australia if they pose a risk to children.

Make-A-Wish Australia requires all representatives to pass through the organisation’s recruitment and screening processes prior to commencing their engagement with Make-A-Wish. This includes:

  • Obtaining a clear National Police Check as conducted by Make-A-Wish Australia at commencement of employment and at regular intervals throughout their engagement;
  • Holding a valid Working With Children Check as per relevant state legislation (paid or volunteer work as directed by Make-A-Wish Australia);
  • Successfully passing such interviews as required by internal procedures, including relevant questions about their suitability to work with children;
  • Successfully passing thorough reference checks as required under Make-A-Wish Australia’s procedures, which includes relevant questions about the candidate’s suitability to work with children;
  • Adhering to Make-A-Wish Australia’s Values, Code of Conduct and Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy and procedures; and
  • Conducting online searches (e.g. Google, LinkedIn) to identify other important sources of referees.

Risk Management

Make-A-Wish Australia will ensure that child safety is part of its overall risk management approach. This includes a child safety committee, with representatives from management who meet regularly and as required to review and discuss matters.

Make-A-Wish Australia will have a risk and compliance framework to identify and mitigate risks which will be reviewed by the Finance & Audit committee as required. Finance Committee members will receive regular training sessions in relation to child safety.

Reporting

Any Make-A-Wish representative who has reasonable grounds to suspect abusive activity must immediately notify the appropriate child protection service or the police. They must also, immediately advise one of the nominated Make-A-Wish Australia Child Protection Officers about their concern. This is outlined in the Child Safety Reporting Flowchart.

In situations where the Child Protection Officer is suspected of involvement in the activity, or if the person having the suspicion does not believe the matter is being appropriately addressed or dealt with, the matter should be reported to an alternative Child Protection Officer, or to the next highest level of supervision (i.e. CEO, then Board)

Make-A-Wish Australia maintains a confidential reporting culture which respects the privacy of individuals while maintaining adequate record keeping of child safety issues. All Make-A-Wish representatives have a right to report any concerns that they have of inappropriate behaviour toward children and will not suffer any professional or legal consequences provided they report in ‘good faith’.

These protections ensure that the report:

  • Cannot result in the reporter being seen as unprofessional, or having breached professional ethics
  • Does not make the reporter liable for any disciplinary or legal action (including in cases that are not proven).

Mandated reporting

  • a) Select classes of people in the community (including teachers, nurses and doctors) are required by law to report to the Child Protection Unit of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in Victoria or relevant state based authority where they have formed a belief, on reasonable grounds, that a child is in need of protection because they have suffered (or are likely to suffer) significant harm due to physical or sexual abuse.
  • b) This report must be made as soon as practicable, and after each occasion where he or she becomes aware of a further reasonable grounds for the belief.

Voluntary reporters

In addition to the mandatory reporting obligations above, any person who believes on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection from any form of child abuse, may disclose that information to the Police or the Department of Health and Human Services or relevant state authority.

Reporting child sexual abuse

If a person receives information that leads them to form a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed against a child (under the age of 16 years) by another person (of or over the age of 18 years), the person has a legal obligation to disclose that information to the Police as soon as it is practicable. Individuals who fail to comply with this obligation under the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) or relevant state lehislation may be subject to a penalty of three (3) years imprisonment.

Investigating

If the appropriate child protection service or the police decide to conduct an investigation of a report made, Make-A-Wish representatives must cooperate fully with the investigation.

Make-A-Wish Australia considers that it is not acceptable to delay taking action against an alleged perpetrator unless (or until) they have been charged with a criminal offence. Make-A-Wish Australia commits to taking action immediately following the receipt of a complaint and will ensure to actively participate in the investigation process and follow up with the regulatory bodies to ensure that the issue has been appropriately dealt with.

Whether or not the authorities decide to conduct an investigation, the CEO will consult with the authorities to determine whether an internal investigation is appropriate. If it is decided that such an investigation will not conflict with any proceeding of the authorities, the CEO may decide to conduct such an investigation. All representatives must cooperate fully with the investigation.

Any such investigation will be conducted according to the rules of natural justice.

The CEO will make every effort to keep any such investigation confidential, however from time to time other Make-A-Wish Australia representatives may need to be consulted in conjunction with the investigation.

After an initial review and a determination the suspected abuse warrants additional investigation, the CEO shall coordinate the investigation with the appropriate investigators and/or law enforcement officials. Internal or external legal representatives will be involved in the process, as deemed appropriate.

Responding

If it is alleged that a Make-A-Wish Australia representative may have committed an offence or have breached the organisation’s policies or its Code of Conduct, the person concerned may be stood down (with pay, where applicable) while the investigation is conducted. Volunteers who are the subject of an investigation will need to surrender their identification badge to the Volunteer Services Team until such time as they are cleared of the allegations.

If the investigation concludes that on the balance of probabilities an offence (or a breach of the organisation’s policies or Code of Conduct) has occurred then disciplinary action may follow, up to and including dismissal or cessation of involvement with the organisation. The findings of the investigation will also be reported to any external body as required.

Record Keeping and Privacy

All personal information considered or recorded will respect the privacy of the individuals involved unless there is a risk to someone’s safety. Make-A-Wish Australia will have safeguards and practices in place to ensure any personal information is protected. Make-A-Wish Australia will only inform third parties as required by law, including the relevant state/territory child protection authority and police department.

Everyone is entitled to know how the personal information is recorded, what will be done with it, and who will be able to access it.

Reviewing

The Board will conduct a review of Make-A-Wish Australia’s child protection policies and Code of Conduct, biennially and following every reportable incident. The review will seek to determine whether the organisation’s child protection policies or procedures require modification to better protect children under the organisation’s care. The annual review will also ensure the policies and Code of Conduct meet any new legislative requirements.

Related Material

  1. Code of Conduct
  2. Incident Register
  3. Child Safety Report form
  4. Child Safety Reporting Flowchart
  5. HR policies manual
  6. Australian Childhood Foundation E-learning modules

Definitions

Child means a person below the age of 18 years unless otherwise stated under the law applicable to the child.

Child Abuse means all forms of physical abuse, emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse and exploitation, neglect or negligent treatment, commercial (e.g. for financial gain) or other exploitation of a child and includes any action that results in actual or potential harm to a child.

Child Protection means any responsibility, measure, activity or initiative undertaken to safeguard children and young people from any form of harm.

Child sexual assault is any act which exposes a child to, or involves a child in, sexual processes beyond his or her understanding or contrary to accepted community standards. Sexually abusive behaviours can include the fondling of genitals, masturbation, oral sex, vaginal or anal penetration by a penis, finger or any other object, fondling of breasts, voyeurism, exhibitionism, and exposing the child to or involving the child in pornography. It includes child grooming, which refers to actions deliberately undertaken with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child to lower the child’s inhibitions in preparation for sexual activity with the child.

Make-A-Wish Australia Representative means any person who is acting on behalf of Make-A-Wish Australia and includes staff, volunteers, contractors, suppliers, business partners, board members, and ambassadors.

Reasonable grounds for belief is a belief based on reasonable grounds (see below) that child abuse has occurred when all known considerations or facts relevant to the formation of a belief are taken into account and these are objectively assessed. Circumstances or considerations may include the source of the allegation and how it was communicated, the nature of and details of the allegation, and whether there are any other related matters known regarding the alleged perpetrator.

A reasonable belief is formed if a reasonable person believes that:

  • The child is in need of protection,
  • The child has suffered or is likely to suffer “significant harm as a result of physical injury”, or
  • The parents are unable or unwilling to protect the child.

A ‘reasonable belief’ or a ‘belief on reasonable grounds’ is not the same as having proof, but is more than mere rumour or speculation.

A ‘reasonable belief’ is formed if a reasonable person in the same position would have formed the belief on the same grounds. For example a ‘reason belief’ might be formed if:

  • A child states they have been physically or sexually abused
  • A child states that they know someone who has been physically or sexually abused (sometimes the child may be talking about themselves)
  • Someone who knows a child states that the child has been physically or sexually abused
  • Professional observations of the child’s behaviour or development leads a professional to form a belief that the child has been physically or sexually abused; and/or
  • Signs of abuse lead to a belief that the child has been physically or sexually abused

Reporting in ‘good faith’ means that a reporter has a valid and reasonable concern and is acting without malice or retaliation towards the alleged offender.

Questions or concerns?

If you have any questions or concerns about our Child Safeguarding practices, please contact us on 1800 032 260 and ask to speak to a Child Protection Officer. After hours? See more ways to contact us below.