When making any decisions, you should make sure this falls within your role and responsibilities which will be specified in your code of conduct. You will need to be clear on the policies and procedures at your workplace and ensure everything you do is legal and ethical. If you’re not sure about the correct policies, you should check with your supervisor or manager before acting on anything or making any decisions that could affect you or the organisation. When working with children, you will have certain responsibilities to uphold so it is important that you know and understand what these are.
If you suspect a child or young person is being abused or neglected, or the child has disclosed this to you, you should use the information you have gathered to report it. Once it has been reported, the authorities will interview the child to investigate it. In this situation, you would need to be careful not to cross the line and do more than your job role entitles. For example, you should not stop the child from going home or try to make contact with the abuser. This would be interfering and could make things worse for yourself and the child. Your job role should entail keeping the child safe while at your workplace or in your care and reporting any issues to the appropriate person. Authorities and agencies will be trained and specialise in dealing with these cases and speaking to children, so it is important that you leave that part to them. You should also keep the information to yourself and the relevant people and don’t discuss the details with anyone else.
People working with children and young people have a special duty of care to them. This is an element of the tort of negligence, which states that if a child or young person suffers injury as the result of the negligence of another person, they should be compensated for the loss and damage caused by this. To successfully claim for negligence, it must be established that, on the balance of probabilities:
- A duty of care was owed to the person harmed at the time of the injury
- The risk of injury was foreseeable
- The likelihood of the injury occurring was more than insignificant
- There was a breach of the duty of care or a failure to observe a reasonable standard of care
- This breach or failure was a cause of the injury.
It is important that people working in caregiving roles provide a high level of care to children and young people and take all reasonable steps to reduce risk, such as:
- Provision of suitable and safe premises
- Provision of an adequate system of supervision
- Implementation of strategies to prevent bullying
- Ensuring that medical assistance is provided to a sick or injured student
- Managing employee recruitment, conduct and performance.
Modified from source: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/principals/spag/safety/Pages/dutyofcare.aspx. Accessed on 24/10/2016.
Whichever state or territory you live in; there are legislation relating to children’s education and care that you will need to follow. You should be aware of the legislation to make sure you carry out your role in a legal, safe and ethical manner. In Victoria, the Education and Care Service National Law Act 2010 was passed and it was also adopted by other jurisdictions through an Application Act or passed corresponding legislation.
Below is the legislation and Application Act that applies in each state or territory:
|State or Territory||Legislation||Application Act|
|Victoria||Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010|
|New South Wales||Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010||Children (Education and Care Services National Law Application) Act 2010|
|Australian Capital Territory||Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010||Education and Care Services National Law (ACT) Act 2011|
|Northern Territory||Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010||Education and Care Services (National Uniform Legislation) ACT 2011|
|South Australia||Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010||Education and Early Childhood Services (Registration and Standards) Act 2011|
|Tasmania||Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010||Education and Care Services National Law (Application) Act 2011|
|Queensland||Education and Care Services National Law (Queensland) Act 2011|
|Western Australia||Education and Care Services National Law (WA) Act 2012|
The National Quality Framework is a national system for the regulation and quality assessment of child care and early learning services. The National Quality Standard sets the benchmark for the quality of education and care servicesand promotes the safety, health, and wellbeing of children by assessing and rating approved services.
The framework includes the following quality areas:
- Educational programme and practice
- Children’s health and safety
- Physical environment
- Staffing arrangements
- Relationships with children
- Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
- Leadership and service management.
Modified from source: https://www.education.gov.au/legislation-ratings-and-standards-information-national-quality-framework-nqf. Accessed on 18/10/2016.
In addition to state legislation, you will have policies and procedures set out by your organisation that you will be expected to follow on a daily basis. The policies and procedures are there to ensure that everyone working for the organisation understands and applies the organisation’s values, processes, and rules in their everyday role and abides by them. The policy framework is a written, formal statement which contains agreed standards that everyone should follow who is employed by the organisation. The framework should be referred to regularly as it will help you to determine what actions and decisions you should make in the role.