Framework Requirement 1 – Risk assessments
Under Requirement 1 of the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework (the Framework) Commonwealth entities are required to undertake risk assessments annually in relation to activities of each entity, to identify the level of responsibility for, and contact with, children and young people, evaluate risks to child safety, and put in place appropriate strategies to manage identified risks.
Identifying and mitigating child safety-related risks is a core component of being a child safe organisation. Child safety risks come in many forms, including environmental, operational and cultural risks. The level and type of risk varies across each entity and can change over time. Annually reviewing child safety risks is important to promote a culture of continuous improvement and to identify new risks and support ongoing, appropriate management of existing child safety risks.
Consistent with Requirement 4 of the Framework, the outcomes of each entity’s child safety risk assessment should be included in its annual public statement of compliance with the Framework. More information is available in the Requirement 4 guidance.
The following guidance is designed to support entities to understand what should be considered as part of their annual child safety risk assessment, and strategies to manage these risks.
Annual Risk Assessments
A risk assessment is not meaningful unless it is done regularly and its outcomes are assessed and acted upon. It is important to embed the need for routine risk assessments into corporate policy, Accountable Authority instructions, and/or other governance regimes. It is also important to ensure that the outcomes of a risk assessment are acted upon so that when areas for improvement are identified, effective changes are implemented in a timely manner.
It is recommended that you include a threshold question in your entity’s risk assessment template such as:
“Does this activity involve contact with children by the Department or another party connected to, or funded by, the Department?
Are there any other identifiable child safety risks?”
If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then a full child safety risk assessment should be undertaken. Where relevant services or activities are funded by a Commonwealth entity, more information is available on the Application to funded third parties page.
Below is a list of possible child safety risks and potential mitigation strategies for consideration. The area of your entity responsible for advising on risk will be able to provide guidance.
While Requirement 1 of the Framework requires entities to undertake an annual risk assessment to identify child safety risks and mitigation strategies, undertaking an annual risk assessment alone will not improve the safety of children. Child safety should be considered in all aspects of entities’ day‑to‑day business, including other risk assessments. All risk management policies and risk assessment tools should consider including a component that considers child safety risks.
Child safety-related risks and examples of their sources
- Unsafe physical environment, poor supervision, high-risk activities
Re-traumatisation of survivors in the workplace and vicarious trauma
- Practices are not trauma informed
- Support services available to staff are not well known or used
- Support services are not trained in trauma informed practices and are not appropriate to respond to victims of abuse
- The use of physical punishment, or physical assault such as pushing or hitting
Psychological abuse / emotional abuse
- Inappropriate verbal or symbolic acts such as bullying, intimidation, threats, isolating, ignoring or rejecting
- Lack of supervision, not meeting specific needs of children, or not providing basic necessities such as food, drink, shelter, education or medical treatment
- Exposing children to or involving them in sexual acts, direct or indirect sexual exploitation and/or grooming
- Lack of cultural respect, racism or other vilification
Online grooming / online sexual exploitation
- Misuse of online communication channels, such as messaging applications, emails or other social media
Possible mitigation strategies of child safety-related risks
- Reference checks
- Working With Children / Working With Vulnerable People Checks
- Induction processes
- Child safety training (trauma informed training)
- Identified risks managed through physical intervention such as restricted access to areas with risk, removal of hazards in play areas etc.
- First aid officers appointed
- Guidelines for managing online interactions and supervision of all online activity
- Appropriate policies are in place (e.g. Social Media, Privacy, and Internet Use)
Trauma informed practice
- Training for staff is trauma informed and contains a warning to staff about the content
- Staff are provided with training about vicarious trauma
- Staff are provided with appropriately trained support and assistance to deal with re-traumatisation or vicarious trauma
Responding to issues / disclosures
- Child safety training (trauma informed training)
- Escalation procedures
- Complaints and disclosure procedures including on mandatory reporting and failure to protect obligations