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Child Safe Sport Framework Toolkit

The Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF) has been working with the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) since 2014 to help improve the safety of children and young people in Australian sport from child abuse. This work is part of the overall aim of the ‘Australian Sport: A Shared Responsibility for Protecting Children and Young People’ Program which provides all staff and volunteers in the Australian Sporting community with:

  • an awareness and knowledge of child abuse and child protection;
  • an understanding of the specific obligations and expected behaviours towards children under the ASC's Member Protection Policy; and,
  • the confidence to be able to take appropriate action when staff become concerned for the safety of a child.

This Toolkit is designed for National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) to develop a set of policies and procedures to keep children and young people in their sport safe from abuse. This Toolkit will focus on developing the specific obligations, expected behaviours and building the confidence of staff and volunteers in sport to take appropriate action. This Toolkit will need to be accompanied by an appropriate training package to ensure there is an awareness and knowledge of child abuse and child protection .

It is critical as part of this approach all levels of your sport are included from your grassroots at a club level through to member associations and state or territory sporting associations and at every part of the process to ensure your sport’s approach incorporates the current strengths as well as acknowledges the differences when operating across Australia.

The ASC have a steadfast commitment to ensuring a clear understanding exists of child safety in Australian sport, with a plan building on where the industry is right now and where it will be in the future. This approach is at the core of the ASC being a visionary leader in child safe practices. All Australian sporting organisations are part of this journey.

In order to take child safety in Australian sport to the next level, the ASC commissioned the ACF to develop a Toolkit and process to help implement child safe approaches across all Australian sport. This Toolkit is part of a step by step guide or process to creating or strengthening the child safe policy framework for your sport.

It is important to reference and ensure compliance with the relevant jurisdictional legislation. This at a minimum will need to include references to the relevant child protection legislation which differs depending on the jurisdiction(s) in which your organisation operates (see Jurisdictional Screening and Mandatory Reporting Requirements download).

To improve the safety of children and young people in sport there are two distinct components to this work:

  1. Child Safe Sport Toolkit (Toolkit); and
  2. Child Safe Sport Process

These two separate components are distinct and complementary to one another. The two parts will be explored in the following sections.

Child Safe Sport Toolkit

A Toolkit is important to build the suite of child safe policies for your sport. It sets out clearly what everyone in your sport needs to know to keep children safe.

The Toolkit includes seven different components and provides a suite of policy documents to protect children and young people in your sport and at the very minimum needs to include the following elements:

  • A code of behaviour or behavioural guidelines which guides the expected behaviours of everyone in your sport towards children and young people;
  • A recruitment policy to ensure everyone (staff or volunteers) involved in your sport are safe to children and young people;
  • An induction and training policy that ensures staff and volunteers continuously apply child safe best practice in your sport;
  • A reporting policy and incident report forms to ensure staff and volunteers are confident in knowing what to report and who to report it to. For the senior management and board the responsibility is to apply a risk   management approach to ensure the appropriate risk controls are in place;
  • A series of posters, website or social media   references, brochures, or other advertising materials to communicate with  everyone in the sport the suite of child safe policies; and
  • A procedure for regular review and improvement of your suite of child safe policies to ensure that everyone in the can provide feedback and improve the sport’s child safe policies and procedures;

The Toolkit provides the basis for standardised documents to include and the process allows for the development of a NSO's Child Safe Sport Framework.

Child Safe Sport Process

ASC recognised NSO's will already have a Member Protection Policy document in place. This document covers off a range of topics for sports, including the protection of children and young people in sport. The Toolkit is about building on this foundation and highlighting the importance of protecting children and young people in sport.

A Child Safe Sport Process needs to be followed to ensure unique risks to your sport are addressed in your suite of child safe policies. The steps to this process are outlined later in this section.

To adopt the Toolkit and ensure the policy and procedures meet your sport’s needs it is important that you identify a key contact in your sporting organisation that works throughout the process. This contact will also oversee project management and the development of child safe policies and procedures.

Adopting the Toolkit in your sport needs to include input from a consultation process involving the various groups involved in your sport. Consultation is important as the Toolkit represents the minimum required to ensure safety of children in sport but will not necessarily cover off all the risks in your sport. It is important that your staff, volunteers, parents and children and young people (where possible) contribute to ensuring that risks specific to your sport are addressed. It is also important that you include your clubs, member associations, state sporting associations as relevant to your sport.

Given the jurisdictional differences between Australian states and territories it will also be important to leverage the knowledge and experience in your state sporting organisations  as well as state and territory departments of sport and recreation to ensure the policies comply with the relevant legislation requirements.

You will also need to review the existing governance structure of your sport. This can be constitutional or contractual and may be different for different governance structures. This will affect how your sport consults and validates your suite of child safe policies prior to implementation.

In order to complete this process, you will need to establish a working group or committee that oversees the development, consultation and implementation of these policies and procedures. This committee necessarily involves senior management from your organisation to ensure oversight and authority for your child safe policies. It will also need to ensure that this group includes representation from everyone involved in your sport including your state sporting organisations,  member associations and clubs as relevant. Your nominated key contact would need to be a member of the working group.

Templates and/or guidance are provided in the Toolkit. It is the expectation that where your sport has an existing document that you update/review that document to reflect the minimum standards available for each of the documents in the toolkit.

Sporting organisations can demonstrate commitment to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all children and young people who are involved by developing policies and procedures which seek to address risks to child safety and to establish child safe culture and practices. The commitment statement should include the following elements:
  • a simple and clear commitment to keeping children & young people safe
  • behavioural expectations of staff and volunteers
  • recruiting processes to ensure people who are unsuitable are not engaged
  • induction and training supporting this commitment
  • children, young people and their parents engaged in policy development
  • staff and volunteers understand their responsibility for reporting child abuse
  • policies and practices are maintained.

The Code of Behaviour template is an essential part of the Toolkit. A Code of Behaviour is an important part of the Member Protection Policy and a Child Safe Sport Framework to keep sport safe for children and young people.

The recruitment and screening templates have been developed to provide a fair, consistent and comprehensive recruitment process across a sporting organisation. The requirements help ensure the organisation recruits staff and volunteers who are suitably qualified and committed to providing professional, safe and enjoyable programs and services to children and young people.

The template induction and training requirements have been developed to ensure staff, volunteers, contractors and consultants are provided with the information they need to undertake their duties in accordance with the organisation’s policies, guidelines and procedures, in particular that they:

  • are aware of and remain alert to the risk of child abuse
  • understand our commitment to preventing and responding to child abuse
  • understand how they are expected to behaviour towards children and young people
  • know how to identify and respond to child abuse, and
  • understand their responsibility in relation to identifying and responding to child abuse.

As part of the commitment to Child Safe Sport your organisation will have developed policies and processes detailing how to respond to child abuse reports and allegations.

The details surrounding reporting do change as legislation in jurisdictions change.

It is important to develop a strategy to ensure everyone in your sport knows and understands your Child Safe Sport Framework.

There is not one approach to communicating the framework, rather a range of complementary communication tools. This can include:

  • Regular staff meetings – should be a standing item at regular meetings, use the time to go through the relevant policies one at a time. The focus should be on the Code of Behaviour and reporting policy in addition to the overarching commitment (Child Safe Sport Commitment).
  • Specific training times – arrange meetings across geographical areas or online to talk through the key points of the child safe methodology.
  • Club meetings – where you have local club meetings ensure the topic is discussed at the regular meetings with staff and volunteers.
  • Online resources – like an intranet or internal web page can be used for staff to reference the new policies and procedures.
  • Posters, brochures and advertising material - simple, digestible information that children and parents can access.
  • Website and social media - use these online resources to communicate with everyone in the sport.

Regular reviews are important in keeping children and young people in your sport safe.  These review processes should cover all parts of the suite of child safe  sport policies with a focus on the Child Safe Sport Code of Behaviour, recruitment procedures and child abuse reporting policy.

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