Framework Requirement 2 – Training and compliance
Under Requirement 2 of the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework (the Framework), Commonwealth entities are required to establish and maintain a system of training and compliance to make staff aware of, and compliant with, the Framework and relevant legislation, including Working with Children / Vulnerable People checks and mandatory reporting requirements.
Training and compliance are important parts of building and maintaining child safe organisational cultures and practices. Establishing a child safety policy on its own is not enough to protect children and young people from harm in an organisation. Staff need appropriate training and education about the organisation’s child safety measures and their legal obligations for protecting children. The organisation also needs a system, or process, of compliance to ensure all obligations and training requirements are being met.
The first step, at a minimum, to meet this requirement is to identify what legal obligations your entity and its staff must comply with to protect children.
Identifying obligations under law and other reporting schemes
Depending on the state or territory in which your entity operates, your staff’s legal obligations for protecting children will vary. For example, staff may need to consider relevant Commonwealth offences, mandatory reporting obligations, Working with Children Checks (WWCC) / Working with Vulnerable People (WWVP) checks, and any additional responsibilities under jurisdictional reportable conduct schemes.
Each entity is expected to identify and understand these and all other relevant state, territory or Commonwealth obligations that apply to its context. These obligations should then be included in the entity’s child safety policies, reporting frameworks or procedures, and relevant training material.
Entities should inform staff of any obligations that may apply to them. Advice on specific obligations should be sought from the agencies responsible for those laws.
Commonwealth failure to report and failure to protect offences
In line with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Commonwealth, state and territory governments are introducing child sexual abuse-related failure to protect and failure to report offences. The Commonwealth’s offences, contained within the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), came into effect on 20 March 2020 and are relevant to Commonwealth entities.
The new criminal offences apply to Commonwealth officers who exercise care, supervision or authority over children and who fail to protect children from, or fail to report, child sexual abuse. The intent of these offences is to ensure Commonwealth officers with responsibilities for children proactively take steps to protect children from child sexual abuse, and report child sexual abuse.
What training might look like
Operations and child-related legal obligations vary widely across different Commonwealth entities. It is up to each entity to decide how staff will be trained about child safety, how to deliver the training, and who is required to complete the training.
Entities are encouraged to develop a training regime that meets their operational needs. Staff who work with children on a regular basis should have more frequent and specific training than staff who do not have any contact with children. For example, an entity with employees that engage with children regularly may implement comprehensive face-to-face training, whereas an entity with limited engagement with children may have a high-level online training module that provides an overview of the Framework and key child safety obligations of all staff. It may also be appropriate for there to be a tiered system of training.
For staff that do not work directly with children your training requirements may be met by an ongoing communication program that informs staff of:
- the Framework as a whole-of-government policy
- the entity’s policies in relation to child safety, funding third parties who work with children (grants and procurements), ICT policy and complaints handling protocols
- child safety in the day-to-day business of your agency.
Entities should provide relevant training, or access to training, for staff that may not work directly with children but work on policies and programs that impact children. For example, staff working on family, education or health policy issues.
Ongoing training should be available for staff that work with children and staff should be given sufficient time in their work programs to attend training. It may also be appropriate for these staff to have access to professional memberships or research and publications on child safety, professional/peer supervision discussions, and team training days.
Training for staff who work with children, or make direct decisions for children, should at a minimum cover:
- the rights of children and young people
- legislative requirements including WWCC / WWVP checks and mandatory reporting requirements in the jurisdiction(s) in which they work
- awareness of the entity’s child safety policy and other relevant policies
- attendance at relevant professional seminars
- how to identify indicators of child abuse or harm
- online safety risks that the entity may have to deal with and how to mitigate them
- how to respond appropriately, including making external reports to police or child protection agencies
- how to respond in culturally appropriate ways to children and young people and their families
- how to keep appropriate records and an awareness of any legal obligations for record keeping
- how to support colleagues
- where to get additional information and support.
The National Principles are a key part of the Framework and should be a focus area of training. The Australian Human Rights Commission’s 11 eLearning modules may be a useful part of your training. These free, online modules include an introductory module and a module on each of the 10 principles.
There are many ways an entity can build their training regime, including:
- creating their own training material
- building on or use existing material to create training materials appropriate to the entity
- building on or use training developed by other Commonwealth entities, where agreed, and
- procuring third party child safety training services.
Entities are encouraged to share good practices and training materials with each other as appropriate. For more information about training developed by other Commonwealth entities contact us. Please note that the National Office does not accredit any third party training providers.
Being trauma informed
Training about child safety issues can be confronting. It can be a trigger for re-traumatisation for some people, including staff who are survivors of child abuse themselves or have a close family member, including a child, who is a survivor or victim of child abuse.
Training should use trauma informed principles and practice, and provide options for people to seek support. In general terms, trauma informed training is training that is based on an understanding and knowledge of how trauma can affect people’s lives and needs. Trauma informed training should be based on not re-traumatising or blaming survivors and victims.
Some practical tips on how you can use trauma informed principles in training are:
- Before you commence the training session (whether online or in person) have a warning at the beginning to inform staff about the contents of the training and that it could bring up strong feelings for them
- Provide staff with access to information about services and support available to them if they need it. For example Employee Assistance Programs, Lifeline and Beyond Blue
- If staff do not work with children or have any contact with children, you may wish to consider giving staff the option of not undertaking the training if they believe it will bring up strong feelings for them. You could instead simply make these staff aware of the policies around child safety and the existence of the Framework. Staff that work with children will need to undertake ongoing appropriate trauma informed child safety training.
- There are also risks that staff may experience vicarious trauma. This is the effect of trauma exposure on professionals that work with trauma material and/or clients with traumatic experiences. The effects of vicarious trauma can be similar to that experienced by the primary survivor or victim, for example anxiety, depression, fear, grief, despair and sleeping problems. It is important to provide support for staff that may be experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, vicarious trauma.
- More information about vicarious trauma is available from the Australian Institute of Family Studies and 1800RESPECT.
What compliance might look like
After identifying relevant legal obligations and establishing appropriate training, the entity should develop a regime to ensure staff are complying with these requirements and the Framework.
Ensuring compliance begins from recruitment — an entity should:
- identify any roles that involve interaction with children
- have robust staff screening and induction processes that verify a staff member’s suitability for the particular role as it relates to children, and
- inform new staff of their child safety obligations.
- Ongoing compliance means setting up a system that:
- formally records which positions and staff require WWCCs or WWVPs and regularly reviews position requirements
- monitors staff adherence to training and WWCC or WWVP requirements
- monitors breaches of the Framework and other child safety issues, and
- regularly reviews and updates child safety‑related policies and procedures.
In accordance with Requirement 4 of the Framework, entities are required to annually report on their compliance through a public statement. In preparing this statement, it is recommended that the entity’s Accountable Authority use this as an opportunity to assure themselves that the requirements of the Framework are being met within their agency.
Where entities are applying the Framework to funded third party organisations, it is recommended that the entity maintain a system to monitor compliance by these organisations.