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Becoming a child safe standard-bearer

29 September 2020

The NSW Child Safe Standards are providing organisations across the state with a practical focus for protecting and supporting the safety and wellbeing of children.

One organisation to see the benefits of applying these standards to their day-to-day work is Sydney Catholic Schools.

According to Sandy Reynolds, Child Protection Supervisor with Sydney Catholic Schools, the standards provide a clear way to set the expectations for teachers and other staff about keeping children safe within this network of schools.

“We set to work embedding the standards soon after they were released, and they’ve been part of our induction and ongoing training ever since,” Ms Reynolds said.

Because the Standards focus on children, rather than a particular type of service or work environment, they provide guidance for when circumstances and service delivery change – such as during the current pandemic.

“Standard 8 is about providing safe physical and online environments,” Ms Reynolds said.

When schools were locked down, teaching suddenly went from the classroom to the living room via video conferencing.

“We responded to that by putting rules in place on things like dress and behaviour – and teacher supervision,” she said.

“For instance, we organised it so that senior staff had access to the online sessions of the teachers they were managing so they could check in to see how things were going just like they would do at school,” Mr Reynolds said.

NSW Children’s Guardian, Janet Schorer, has seen hundreds of organisations use the Child Safe Standards to strengthen their protections for children.

“The Child Safe Standards show what we expect from the people and organisations working with children in NSW,” Ms Schorer said.

“The Working With Children Check is an element of the Standards that helps us recruit people who are suitable to work with children by looking into a person’s past, known records.

“Most people charged with abuse of children don’t have a past conviction, so they wouldn’t have been picked by a criminal history check.

“That’s why it’s so important to put in place the full suite of standards 1 to 10 to provide the foundation for creating and maintaining environments that are safe and welcoming for children and young people,” Ms Schorer said.