PART A: TERM PAPER QUESTIONS & ANSWERS – LEGAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES IN CHILDCARE
1)Record the relevant government agency that deals with child protection in your state – South Australia. The South Australia Department for Families and Communities (DFC) is responsible for child protection among other things. (COAG) Families SA runs the Child Abuse Report Line on 131 478. The Report Line is the focal point where all child protection concerns are to be reported. There are three teams in operation during these times.
1)The standard Child Abuse Report Line team is made up of social workers. For the sake of integrity all mandatory notifications are reviewed on the day by senior social workers.
2)Aboriginal Family Practitioners man the Yaitya Tirramangkotti Line.
3)A special team was created called DART (The Diversionary Assessment Response Team) to provide help to notifiers to assess whether their concern needs to be reported. It also refers people to other resources they can use to assist the child and their family.
2)A] What are the legal requirements for ‘Mandatory Reporting’ in South Australia for staff working in a children’s service? B] Who is legally obligated to make a notification when they have grounds to believe that a child is at risk of harm? A] The legal requirements for “Mandatory Reporting’ in South Australia are that if a person reasonably suspects that a child has previously been, or is still being abused or neglected from observations during the course of their work (whether paid or voluntary) or in the process of carrying out their official duties, then the person must notify the Department of that suspicion as soon as possible after they suspect abuse is occurring. B] As outlined under the Children’s Protection Act 1993 – S.A., the people legally obligated to make a notification when they have grounds to believe that a child is at risk of harm are: (a) a medical practitioner;
(b) a pharmacist;
(c) a registered or enrolled nurse;
(d) a dentist;
(e) a psychologist;
(f) a police officer;
(g) a community corrections officer (an officer or employee of an administrative unit of the Public Service whose duties include the supervision of young or adult offenders in the community); (h) a social worker;
(i) a minister of religion;
(j) a person who is an employee of, or volunteer in, an organisation formed for religious or spiritual purposes; (k) a teacher in an educational institution (including a kindergarten); (l) an approved family day care provider;
(m) any other person who is an employee of, or volunteer in, a Government department, agency or instrumentality, or a local government or non-government organisation, that provides health, welfare, education, sporting or recreational, child care or residential services wholly or partly for children, being a person who—(i) is engaged in the actual delivery of those services to children; or (ii) holds a management position in the relevant organisation the duties of which include direct responsibility for, or direct supervision of, the provision of those services to children. It is important to remember that under the law you are only mandated within your professional context. In relation to your experiences after hours you have no mandate to report, however you may consider that you have an ethical duty to do so (DECD). 3) List the relevant policies and procedures from your service relating to child protection and responding to children at risk of harm.
At our centre we have access to physical copies (or via the intranet) of various policies and procedures relating to child protection and responding to children at risk of harm. These policies may come from several sources, namely International, National, State, GoodStart or they may be specific to our centre: UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC – 1990)
Early Childhood Development Steering Committee, National Quality Standard for Early Childhood Education and Care and School Age Care, Council of Australian Governments, (COAG) (December 2009), specifically Quality Area 2 – Children’s Health and Safety, incorporating 2.3.4 “Action is taken to
respond to every child at risk of abuse and or neglect”. Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) (2012)
Responding to Children and Young People’s Disclosures of Abuse (September 2011) National Child Protection Clearing House – Practice Brief Early Childhood Australia – Code of Ethics
Children’s Protection Act 1993 S.A.
Children’s Protection Regulations (2006)
GoodStart Early Learning Policy Number CO-3 Child Protection and Risk Management (November 2010). GoodStart Early Learning Strategy Number CO-3.1 Child Protection and Risk Management Strategy (June 2009). GoodStart Early Learning Procedure Number CO-3.2 Reporting of Harm or Suspected Harm (Mandatory Reporting) (July 2008 reviewed April 2012). GoodStart Early Learning Procedure Number CO-3.3 Maintaining Working with Children Check and Police Clearance (October 2009) Critical Incident Management Policy
4)Referring to the relevant policy and procedure relating to ‘responding to children at risk of harm’, complete the following tasks: a)Summarise the definition of ‘harm’ as per the relevant policy. A child is at risk of ‘harm’ if the circumstances that are causing concern for the safety, or wellbeing of the child are significant. The significance can result from a single act (e.g. leaving a child unattended in a car while dashing into the shops or on a hot day) or omission (e.g. no safety seat in car, or not fastening the seatbelt or child restraint) or an accumulation of these acts. This means the concern is sufficiently serious to warrant a response by a statutory authority such as the Police or Families and Community Services even if the family does not consent to intervention. The incident must not be minor or trivial; it must be seen to be capable of producing a substantial and obvious impact on the child’s safety or wellbeing.
This definition of ‘harm’ will include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, neglect or domestic violence and will also include an unborn baby if the acts could affect the baby after birth, e.g. drug or alcohol addiction. b)Outline the processes for managing a child who discloses information about being abused or neglected or harmed. •Listen carefully to the child and assure them that you believe them •Allow them to talk but discourage them from sharing this with too many people •Do not show alarm, shock, judgement or doubt
•Do not ask leading questions or seek to elicit further information •Do not make them feel inadequate or guilty
•Stay calm and reassure the child
•Do not make promises to the child that everything will be all right etc. •Reassure the child they have done the right thing by telling you •Then let them know in a calm manner that you need to tell someone else who can help them •Tell them this person will make sure they are safe
•Stay close to them to provide a feeling of security
•The child has a right to confidentiality so do not disclose this information to anyone but the relevant authorities •As soon as possible document the conversation you had with the child as accurately as possible •If the child has questions and you do not have the answers tell them so – it is ok not to know all the answers just because you are an adult c)Outline the process to follow for reporting a child at risk as per the relevant policy and procedure. •As soon after the disclosure as practicable contact the Child Abuse Report Line on 131 478 •CIT must also be contacted prior to, or immediately after the above report on 1800997372 Additional support will then be provided such as:
•Once CIT has been contacted they can support the staff member to make the mandatory report or make it on the staff member’s behalf •Where applicable CIT is to inform the CIO to ensure appropriate response and investigation •CIT will maintain all documentation such as a record of conversations, instructions and information etc. REFERENCES
Early Childhood Development Steering Committee, National Quality Standard for Early Childhood Education and Care and School Age Care, Council of Australian Governments, (COAG) (December 2009). GoodStart Training College Module 2 Legal and Ethical Guidelines Training Booklet (October, 2012).