Never has it been more important for early childhood educators to be aware of their obligation to safeguard children from abuse and neglect. As well as the impact on the child from poor awareness of warning signs, and poor responses, failing to spot the signs of abuse and neglect and respond accordingly can have serious consequences for staff involved, and for the approved provider responsible for the service.
Those who educate and care for children need support to ensure they are looking for the right warning signs, and following the correct procedure when they see warning signs.
Children who experience childhood abuse and neglect are more likely to have poorer long term outcomes across their lifetime, with physical, psychological and behavioural consequences. Abuse affects not only the child, but society as a whole.
Staff who fail to report their suspicions of abuse or neglect, or who fail to comply with Reportable Conduct Schemes, may be held criminally responsible and expose their approved provider to consequences arising from failing to fulfil their duty of care.
Questions for centre leaders and owners
Centre leaders and those who function as approved providers have a pivotal role to play in protecting children from abuse and neglect. While they may not work directly with children each day, they have overall responsibility for ensuring that their staff are suitably trained and aware of their obligations in line with relevant state and territory laws.
The following reflective questions can be a useful litmus test to make sure those tasked with supporting children in education and care settings are familiar with their obligations:
- are you sure your team knows their legal obligations and your organisational expectations to report child abuse and neglect?
- Do your team know the risk factors and early warning signs to look for?
- Do they understand the different obligations required of them between child abuse and neglect perpetrated by parents and perpetrated by staff?
- Do you, as a Centre Director or Centre Owner know about recent changes to Civil Liability legislation in several states that may place you personally at risk if your team fail to respond to child abuse and neglect?
For services who are not familiar with the changes, for those who are working with newly formed teams of educators, or simply for those services who want to ensure they are taking every possible precaution to minimise the risk of harm to children in their care, Poynting Consulting & Advisory (PCA) offer a range of face-to-face training sessions to ensure teams know how:
- to identify child protection risks,
- how to intervene early to prevent abuse, and ;
- how to respond and report if child abuse and neglect has occurred.
These sessions are designed to ensure that teams can meet the needs of children and uphold children’s rights while also meeting their legal, moral and ethical obligations. Participating in these sessions not only protects children, giving them the best possible start in life, it also reduces risk to staff, the organisation and the personal liability of approved providers.
The most popular Poynting Consulting & Advisory session is the 2 Hour Child Protection Training session. This session is also able to be tailored as a longer session to include specific instruction on your existing child protection procedures and the precise needs of your staff. In the standard session, teams will learn about:
- Prevention, including tools and strategies to prevent abuse and neglect
- Recognising early warning signs and indicators of abuse and neglect
- The types of abuse and neglect
- Mandatory reporting and who is a mandatory reporter
- Responding to disclosure or suspicions of abuse and neglect
- Grooming and preventing grooming, and
- Reportable conduct (if applicable to your jurisdiction)
PCA has several ready to deliver face-to-face training sessions which have been designed, developed and are delivered by Poynting Consulting & Advisory Principal Consultant, Brad Poynting.
Brad has worked in frontline child protection in Queensland, has been the most senior child protection officer for multiple early education providers, including the largest in Australia, and has been delivering training on child protection for the better part of a decade.
Recognising that there is more to a robust child protection strategy than just refreshing child protection training every year or two, PCA provides a full, bespoke child protection and child safeguarding consulting service.
Advice, policy framework review or development, in-house training review or development, organisational audits against the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, and critical incident reviews are all available through PCA’s bespoke options.
For more information, or to book a training session, please visit the PCA website, here.