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CHILD PROTECTION POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

Introduction
So They Can (STC) is an NGO, registered in Australia, New Zealand, Kenya and Tanzania. STC
Australia is a company limited by guarantee, regulated by the terms set out in its Constitution. STC New
Zealand is a registered charity, regulated by the terms set out in its Trust Deed. STC Kenya is an
incorporated society, regulated by the terms set out in its Constitution and rules. STC Tanzania is a
company limited by guarantee, regulated by the terms set out in its Constitution. Together the four entities
form the organisation STC.

STC is fundamentally committed to the protection of children from harm, abuse and exploitation in all
its forms and to promoting children’s rights as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of
the Child (1989).

Children have a right to survival, development, protection and participation. STC take its duties seriously
and will aim at all times to provide the safest possible environment for the children in its care. It will take
all reasonable steps to safeguard the interests, rights and well-being of those children with whom the
organisation is in contact and will advocate to strengthen the protection and promote the rights of all
children in developing communities. STC will implement procedures and practices as set out in this
document to protect children from abuse, neglect and exploitation by trustees, members, directors,
employees, contractors and volunteers of STC and others acting on its behalf (together
Representatives) who have contact with children.

Protecting children from harm is the responsibility of all those who participate in the work of STC. This
document has been formulated to ensure that all who are involved in any way with STC are aware of their
obligations and commitments to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children in the organisation's care.
These policies and procedures apply to all Representatives. Adherence to them is a mandatory
requirement for all Representatives.

STC respects and upholds statutory law in those countries where it operates. STC’s policies and
procedures must be interpreted and enforced in accordance with local law. There may be instances where
the organisation's policies and procedures are more stringent than local law and in these cases STC’s
policies and procedures should be followed.

STC respects and will generally work to strengthen the culture, traditions and practices of developing
communities. However in instances where cultural practices are clearly contrary to children’s rights STC
will work with the community to reduce or remove such practices.

These policies and procedures will be reviewed annually or earlier if required by the CEO and signed off
by the STC Board at its Annual General Meeting in each year.

Definitions
1. In keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child in these
policies and procedures is a person under the age of 18 years.

2. Child abuse is defined as an act by parents, caregivers, other adults or older adolescents that
endangers a child’s physical or emotional health or development. Child abuse can be a single
incident but usually takes place over time. It can happen to male and female children of all
ages, ethnicity and social backgrounds, abilities, sexual orientation, religious beliefs and
political persuasion.

Child abuse is classified according to four main types:


 Physical abuse: child physical abuse takes place when an adult or older adolescent
causes physical injury by punching, hitting, kicking, beating, biting, burning,
shaking or otherwise harming a child.

 Sexual abuse: child sexual abuse is any sexual activity between a child and an
adult or older person (5 or more years older). Sexual activity includes fondling
genitals, masturbation, oral sex, vaginal or anal penetration, fondling of breasts,
voyeurism, exhibitionism and exposing or involving the child in pornography.
There is also now growing awareness of the issue of child sexual abuse over the
Internet which provides increased opportunities for the solicitation of children for
abusive or exploitative purposes.

 Emotional abuse: emotional or psychological abuse involves a sustained pattern of


verbal abuse and harassment by an adult that results in damage to a child’s self-
esteem or social competence. It can take the form of rejecting, threatening,
ridiculing, ignoring, intimidating or isolating the child. Exposure to violence can
also cause serious psychological harm such as when a child witnesses domestic
violence or is directly exposed to the violence of war or major civil conflict.

 Neglect: neglect of a child occurs when there is a consistent pattern of behaviours


that involve failure to provide a child’s basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter
and supervision to the extent that the child’s health and development are placed at
risk. It can also involve abandonment and withholding of necessary medical
treatment.

Policies
1. Management

STC executive staff and managers are responsible for promoting children’s rights and
championing the protection of children. Management are responsible for implementation of
these policies and procedures and will comply with the Code of Conduct in relation to child
protection (set out below).

Particular responsibilities as detailed in the child protection procedures include building child
protection awareness, advocacy, rigorous recruitment and screening practices, education and
training, sponsorship controls, responding to complaints and allegations, systems and
administration.

Executive staff and managers are responsible for promoting child safe messages in their work
including appropriate child‐safe communications on websites, brochures, recruitment
materials and publications.

2. Staff

All Representatives are responsible for having a thorough knowledge of these policies and
procedures, acting in accordance with them and complying with the staff Code of Conduct.

3. Questions & contacts

Representatives who have questions or concerns or require further information in relation to


these policies and procedures should contact their manager or supervisor, or where that is not
practicable the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of STC.

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Principles

 Exploitation and all forms of abuse of children by a Representative constitute acts of gross
misconduct and are therefore grounds for immediate termination of the relationship with
STC including dismissal from employment or service;

 Where a Representative develops concerns or suspicions regarding any type of child abuse or
exploitation by a fellow worker, whether in the same organisation or not, s/he must report
such concerns via the prescribed STC reporting mechanisms.

 Representatives are obliged to create and maintain an environment which prevents exploitation
and all forms of abuse of children and promotes positive staff conduct. Managers at all levels
have particular responsibilities to support and develop systems that maintain this environment;

 Sexual activity with children (persons under the age of 18) is prohibited regardless of the age
of majority or age of consent locally. Mistaken belief in the age of a child is not a defence;

 Sexual relationships between a Representative and a STC beneficiary are also prohibited as
they are based on inherently unequal power dynamics. Such relationships undermine the
credibility and integrity of humanitarian aid work; and

 Exchange of money, employment, goods, or services for sex, including sexual favours or other
forms of humiliating, degrading or exploitative behaviour is prohibited. This includes
exchange of assistance that is due to beneficiaries.

Policies in Action
1. Development programs

Children in developing countries are extremely vulnerable to various forms of abuse and
exploitation ‐ particularly neglect, physical and emotional abuse. STC's program work in
developing countries therefore aims to promote child protection and protection of children’s
rights as a component of all program activity. Programs will aim to work directly and
indirectly to reduce the risks children face, both from outside and within the family, and these
activities will be assessed in the monitoring and evaluation process. Representatives are to
receive ongoing training and to be regularly updated on issues relating to child protection.

2. Code of Conduct

2.1 Introduction

All Representatives will conduct themselves in a manner that promotes children’s rights and
protects children from harm.

Children are at risk from abuse and neglect from a variety of sources. It is the responsibility of
all Representatives to minimise this risk by setting a positive example, identifying and
managing potential risks and responding to allegations of abuse. The child protection Code
of Conduct describes the basic expectations of Representatives regarding their contact and
dealings with children.

All Representatives will be required to sign an undertaking to comply with this Code of
Conduct (see Annexure B).

A breach of the Code of Conduct or of STC’s child protection procedures are grounds for
disciplinary action, may lead to dismissal from employment or service, and may result in legal
proceedings. A breach of any of the Principles in this policy is regarded as gross misconduct
and will result in dismissal or termination of service.

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2.2 Code of Conduct

Representatives will act at all times to ensure children’s safety and protection. Specifically
Representatives will:

 Take action to inform themselves and others on the STC policy and the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child;

 Maintain and promote a safe environment for children to participate in STC’s


activities;

 Treat all children and young people with respect;

 Conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with the values of STC;

 Provide a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment for all children, young
people, parents, staff and volunteers;

 Respect cultural differences;

 Encourage open communication between all children, young people, parents, staff
and volunteers and have children and young people participate in the decisions that
affect them;

 Report any concerns of child abuse according to the prescribed STC procedures;

 At all times be transparent in their actions and whereabouts;

 Take responsibility for ensuring they are accountable and do not place themselves
in positions where there is a risk of allegations being made;

 Self‐assess their behaviours, actions, language and relationships with children; and

 Speak up when they observe concerning behaviours of colleagues.

Representatives will not:

 Engage in behaviour that is intended to shame, humiliate, belittle or degrade


children;

 Use inappropriate, offensive or discriminatory language when speaking with a child


or young person;

 Do things of a personal nature that a child can do for him/herself, such as assistance
with toileting or changing clothes;

 Take children to their own home/hotel or sleep in the same room or bed as a child;

 Smack, hit or physically assault children;

 Develop sexual relationships with children or relationships with children that may
be deemed exploitative or abusive;

 Behave provocatively or inappropriately with a child;

 Condone or participate in, behaviour of children that is illegal, unsafe or abusive;

 Act in a way that shows unfair and differential treatment of children;

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 Photograph or video a child without the consent of the child and his/her parents,
guardians or a senior STC Manager;

 Hold, kiss, cuddle or touch a child in an inappropriate, unnecessary or culturally


insensitive way;

 Use STC’s computers, mobile phones, video and digital cameras inappropriately,
or use them for the purpose of exploiting or harassing children; or

 Hire minors as labour.

3. Recruitment

3.1 Interview and selection process

(a) STC’s commitment to the protection of children is evidenced through the strict
guidelines relating to the recruitment of representatives, particularly those who will
be in direct contact with children. These guidelines are regularly reviewed and
updated, ensuring that at all times they accurately reflect child safe recruitment and
screening standards.

(b) All Representatives are to be informed of STC’s Child Protection Policies and
Procedures during the induction process. They must sign an acknowledgement
that they have read the document and will comply with its requirements.

(c) Representatives who will have access to or work with children are also required to
undertake a Working with Children Check if they are Australian citizens.

(d) If it is discovered that any Representative is prohibited from working with children,
their employment or service contract or volunteer period will be immediately
terminated and the relevant authorities will be notified.

(e) All staff recruited both in country or from overseas who will be working on projects
in country must undergo a criminal / police check as outlined in Section 3.2 In
countries where no police check system is in place the reliance on referees is
crucial.

(f) All staff recruited both in country or from overseas who will be working on projects
in country must also provide at least three references or referees to be checked by
the organisation.

(g) Referees must be contacted directly and their identity and relationship with the
candidate clarified

(h) Where possible face to face interviews are encouraged

(i) Continual monitoring of the preferred candidate(s) should continue throughout the
orientation and probationary period.

3.2 Criminal Background Check

(a) A Criminal Background Check conducted by the Australian Federal Police will be
undertaken for all Representatives of Australian citizenship and for other nationals
who are to be employed in Australia where their employment position will require
them to be in regular direct contact with children.

(b) A Criminal Background Check conducted by the New Zealand Police will be
undertaken for all Representatives of New Zealand citizenship and for other

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nationals who are to be employed in New Zealand where their employment position
will require them to be in regular direct contact with children.

(c) In STC program countries a criminal record check or other statutory screening
mechanism – if available – will be conducted for all representatives being employed
or contracted regardless of their role. If the individual has been living overseas and
their STC role means they will be working with children in program countries, a
criminal record check must be conducted for each country in which the individual
has lived for 12 months or longer over the last five years, and for the individual’s
country of citizenship.

(d) These checks will be conducted at the commencement of the relationship, with
follow up checks conducted every 2 years for those who are working with children.
STC will never knowingly employ or contract anyone convicted of a child related
offence or permit a person to work with children if they pose an unacceptable risk to
children.

(e) The Chief Operating Officer of STC (COO) is responsible for arranging the
criminal background checks and if necessary the follows ups every 2 years and
maintaining the Criminal Background Checks Register.

(f) A summary of STC’s Child Protection screening requirements can be found in the
matrix attached to this document (refer Annexure A).

4. Training and Development

As part of the induction process all Representatives will be given a copy of STC’s Child
Protection Policies and Procedures and be asked to read it and sign the declaration that
they understand and agree to be bound by it. This shall be the responsibility of the STC
Volunteer Manager (in the case of a volunteer) and in all other cases the COO. Additional
and job‐specific on going child protection training will be arranged by the COO for those
Representatives working with children. The COO is to ensure that this training occurs and
is ongoing. The COO shall record the training provided to each Representative in the Criminal
Background Checks Register.

5. Marketing and communications

STC will undertake all reasonable precautions to protect paper and electronic information
about children in its care. Children’s records are kept in a secure location and child
information is restricted to STC individuals who require access to the information as part of
their responsibilities.

No photographic, electronic or printed material containing images or information relating to


children that could put the child at risk of identification are made available through any form
of communication media without strict guidelines concerning their use.

All images of children that are used in promotional or awareness materials are never
accompanied by explicit information regarding the child’s place of residence. Any text
accompanying an image that in any way identifies the child will be pixelated or removed
unless consented to by the CEO having gained consent from the child’s parents or HHCH
Manager.

All independent photographers will be appropriately screened as is required for all


Representatives.

All communications involving children use pictures and text that are decent and respectful. In
all communications children are adequately clothed in accordance with local customs and any
poses that are potentially sexually suggestive are avoided.

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Any photos taken of children while at STC’s projects must be decent and respectful and must
only be posted on personal websites or social mediums without any reference to the child’s
contact details.

A child and his family must always be asked for consent when using their images. Details as to
how and where the image(s) is to be used must be provided to the child and parent by So They
Can or its representative. This will be facilitated through the school management, the
Children’s Home manager and our on ground operations team.

6. Allegation reporting and management

The development, implementation and continual monitoring of an effective allegation and


incident management system is essential to STC’s efforts to protect children from all forms of
abuse and to ensure due process for any Representatives involved in an allegation.

The potential for Representatives to seek access to children for abusive purposes is
acknowledged by STC. This threat is treated with the utmost importance and seriousness and
STC is committed to doing all it possibly can to prevent the abuse of children and to hold
accountable those who harm children.

6.1 Obligation to report suspected incidents of abuse

All Representatives are required to report immediately to their manager or supervisor if they
have reasonable suspicion of child abuse occurring or being likely to occur, including the
inappropriate use of printed materials. If a person knowingly chooses not to report an incident,
then they will be subject to disciplinary action including possible termination of employment,
contract or service.

6.2 Allegations made

All incidents or suspicions of child abuse, including the inappropriate use of printed materials
(past or present) by a Representative must be reported immediately to the COO. The person
making the allegation is required as soon as possible (usually within 24 hours) to document the
allegation, including the time, place and any witnesses.

If it is a child making the allegations they will be directed to and supported by the relevant
Child Support Officer and all documentation completed in accordance with the complaints
policy and requirements contained within this policy. The Child Support Officer shall
complete all documentation and immediately present the allegation to the local Project
Supervisor and COO. The Child Support Officer will seek professional assistance or the child
as required. All children need to be made aware through their Child Support Officers of the
availability of this avenue for complaints and allegations against staff and representatives of So
They Can, their peers and members of the wider community.

If the allegation is in relation to the COO then the matter must immediately be reported to the
CEO. If the allegation is in relation to the CEO then the matter must immediately be reported
to the Chair of the STC Board. If the allegation is in respect of the Chair of the STC Board
then it must be reported to two other Directors of STC.

In all reports of suspected child abuse involving a Representative, the COO will conduct or
arrange an internal investigation in a timely manner and may involve external legal, mediation
or expert advice if required.

At all times STC will act in the best interests of the child. This may involve the standing down
of the alleged perpetrator while an investigation takes place. Any Representative who has been
stood down will be entitled to a fair and just process including appropriate information about
the investigation process. No assumptions are to be made regarding guilt or innocence, with
the investigation process remaining confidential until a decision has been reached by

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management. Regardless of the decision made, the process must be documented and filed, with
all printed and electronic matter being kept in a secure and confidential place at all times.

The COO is responsible for instituting appropriate action including:

(a) taking immediate steps to secure the safety and well‐being of the child or children
concerned;

(b) making a report to local statutory authorities;

(c) complying with relevant statutes and protocols and cooperating with local
authorities;

(d) determining whether referral of information to the Australian Federal Police, New
Zealand Police or other international authorities is appropriate and possible; and

(e) conducting or arranging an internal investigation to determine if the STC Child


Protection Policies and Procedure has been breached.

Following the investigation process the CEO will conclude one of the following:

(a) There are possible grounds for criminal or statutory proceedings and the STC
Child Protection Policies and Procedures have been breached. In this case the
matter will be referred to appropriate authorities and disciplinary action including
consideration of termination of employment or contract will ensue;

(b) There is no basis for referral to criminal or statutory proceedings however the staff
person has breached the STC Child Protection Policies and Procedures.
Disciplinary action will be conducted including possible termination of
employment or contract; or

(c) There is no basis found for the allegation in which case the person will resume
normal duties. If it is found that the allegation was vexatious, appropriate action in
relation to the person making the allegation will be taken.

If the matter becomes part of a criminal investigation, STC will cooperate fully with the
relevant authorities.

6.3 Confidentiality

All incidents and alleged incidents of child abuse are handled with extreme sensitivity and
confidentiality. STC understands, however, that in some cases reporting of incidents and
allegations may occur even if the child or party concerned is reluctant to give their consent –
at all times STC will work in the best interest of the child. Concerns that arise are always
directed through the above formal procedure.

All documentation of any allegations made, either electronic or paper, are to be kept in a
secure place at all times.

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Annexure A

STC child protection screening

STC representative Screening requirement at appointment Responsibility


*Representatives in this context
includes all full‐ time, part‐ time
and casual employees; Board COO and STC Volunteer Manager
Directors, volunteers, ,
contractors and consultants,
irrespective of which country the
job is situated.

STC Board and Nil


Australia/New Zealand-
based representatives
who do not have direct
contact with children
STC Board and Australian Federal Police or New Zealand Police Criminal Background Check
COO
Australia/New Zealand- (as applicable).
based representatives
who have direct contact Completion of a Working with Children Check if the person is an Australian
with children citizen.

Signed Undertaking to comply with the STC Child Protection Policies and
Procedures.

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STC representative Screening requirement at appointment Responsibility
*Representatives in this context
includes all full‐ time, part‐ time
and casual employees; Board COO and STC Volunteer Manager
Directors, volunteers, ,
contractors and consultants,
irrespective of which country the
job is situated.

Representatives in Criminal record check by local police authority in the relevant program country - if COO
program countries who available.
have direct contact with
If the individual has been living outside the relevant program country, a criminal
children
record check must be conducted for each country in which the individual has lived
for 12 months or longer over the last five years, and for the individual’s country of
citizenship.
Completion of a Working with Children Check if the person is an Australian
citizen.

Signed Declaration to comply with the STC Child Protection Policies and
Procedures.
Criminal record check by local police authority in the relevant program country - if
Representatives in COO
available.
program countries who
do not have direct contact Signed Declaration to comply with the STC Child Protection Policies and
with children Procedures.

Representatives in STC Signed Declaration to comply with the STC Child Protection Policies and COO
partner organisations in Procedures.
program countries who
Confirmation from the partner organisation that the relevant checks above
have direct contact with
have been completed and no issues found.
children

In addition to the screening required specifically for child protection purposes, thorough assessment and selection processes should be used, including (but not
limited to):

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 Detailed job descriptions and selection criteria.

 Thorough selection interview(s), including questions related to working with children.

 Reference checks, including questions relating to suitability to work with children.

 Document verification.

 Induction period with monitoring, supervision & formal review.

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Annexure B

Child Protection Policies and Procedures Declaration

I, ………………………………………… acknowledge that I have read and understand the So They Can
Child Protection Policies and Procedures.

I agree to comply with the So They Can Child Protection Policies and Procedures in full as contained in
this document.

........................................................................... ..........................................................................
Name Position

........................................................................... ..........................................................................
Signed Date

For and on behalf of So They Can

........................................................................... ..........................................................................
Name Position

........................................................................... ..........................................................................
Signed Date

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