Ten questions every board director should ask about child safety

Everyone has a role to play in preventing and responding to child abuse. As a director of a not-for-profit organisation, one of your duties is to satisfy yourself that your organisation is doing the right thing in this regard.

Below is a list of questions you can ask that will help you satisfy yourself that your organisation is doing the right thing. It’s not a prescription – you should amend the list to suit the particular circumstances of your organisation.

The mere fact of asking these questions is likely to spur action, if that’s needed, but you should pay careful attention to the answers you receive and dig deeper if you’re not satisfied with the responses.

To know why you should be asking these questions, download the full document.

1. Policy. Do we need a child safety policy? When was the last time we reviewed our child safety policy?

2. Accountability. Do we need to have a child safety officer? If yes, do we have one? Who is it? Do all new and existing staff know who it is?

3. Reporting. What happens when a child safety concern is reported? Are reports required to be made in writing? Where are they stored? Is there a register? Is it brought to the board or to a risk and audit committee for review? Who signs off that it has been reviewed and follow-up actions have been completed?

4. Recruitment. Do we advertise that we are a child safe organisation requiring a Working with Children Check when we publish recruitment advertisements? Do we include this information in all position descriptions?

5. Inductions. How is child safety addressed in the induction process for new staff, volunteers and board members? Does the process include a session with the child safety officer? Is the child safety policy one of many policies staff, volunteers and board directors must navigate or is it highlighted separately for particular attention?

6. Training. Is training about the child safety policy delivered annually to all staff and board members? Is there a register of those who have completed training?

7. Working With Children Checks and National Police Checks. Do we have a register of Working With Children Checks and expiry dates? Who is responsible for ensuring that anyone whose WWCC is nearing expiry applies for a new one? Working With Children Checks and National Police Checks cover different offences. Are staff and board members required to have both?

8. Culture. Do the organisation’s practices work to create a culture of safety for children? What scope is there for improvement? Do the practices meet state guidelines?

9. Child’s voice. Do the organisation’s practices incorporate opportunities to hear and elevate children’s voices? What scope is there for improvement?

10. Embedded practice. Is child safety a standing agenda item at staff meetings and board meetings, creating a permanent space in which questions, updates and incidents can be raised?

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