On 1 January 2016, Victoria introduced compulsory minimum standards applying to organisations that provide services for children, in order to help protect children from all forms of abuse. As described by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Child Safe Standards are part of the government's response to the recommendations arising from the Betrayal of Trust Inquiry.
Mercy Health is committed to ensuring the safety of all children accessing our services and we are also committed to meeting our compliance obligations. Our policy means Mercy Health will be better able to prevent child abuse, require reporting of any abuse that has occurred, and improve responses to any allegations of child abuse.
The Mercy Health Child Safe Standards Policy applies to all Mercy Health employees, contractors and volunteers.
Mercy Health holds a strong commitment to child safety, based on the following organisational principles:
- zero tolerance of child abuse
- an awareness of staff to listen to the voices of children
- development and regular review of policies and procedures to protect children from harm
- a commitment to regard all allegations of abuse against children seriously, to respond to them consistently and in line with Mercy Health’s child safe policies and procedures
- recognition of the need to continually promote cultural safety for children of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background and culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, as well as providing an accessible and safe environment for children with a disability.
Mercy Health is required to comply with the Victorian Government’s seven Child Safe Standards:
- Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements
- A child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety
- A code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children
- Screening, supervision, training and other human resource practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel
- Processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse
- Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse
- Strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.
Implementation and monitoring of the standards will occur through Mercy Health — Health Services’ Vulnerable Women’s and Children’s Committee, Health Services Leadership Team and the Board.
Links to related Mercy Health documents:
- Mercy Health Code of Conduct
- Vulnerable Children and Child Protection Mercy Hospitals Victoria Ltd Policy
- Vulnerable Children and Child Protection Mercy Hospitals Victoria Ltd Procedure
- Family Violence Mercy Hospitals Victoria Ltd Policy
- Family Violence Mercy Hospitals Victoria Ltd Procedure.
- Betrayal of Trust Report of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government Organisations 2013
- Child Safe Standards, DHHS, 2015
- Child Wellbeing and Safety Act, 2005 (Vic)
- Children, Youth and Families Act, 2005 (Vic)
- Commission for Children and Young People, Victoria.
- Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)
- Healthcare that counts: A framework for improving care for vulnerable children in Victorian Health Services. State of Victoria, DHHS, March 2017