CHILD PROTECTION POLICY

1. DOCUMENT PURPOSE

Matesabroad is committed to the protection of all children from all forms of harm. In particular, the safety and wellbeing of the children coming into contact with Matesabroad programs is of paramount concern. The reputation of Matesabroad and Australian volunteer efforts in overseas countries is also important. Matesabroad supports the rights and welfare of all our staff, volunteers and program participants (‘Matesabroad personnel’) and encourages their active involvement in ensuring safe and respectful environments whilst engaged in any Matesabroad activities.

2. SCOPE AND PERSONS AFFECTED

This policy applies to all Matesabroad personnel, defined as including matesabroad program participants, staff, Board members and associates, service providers and contractors, and volunteers. This policy also applies to other individuals and third parties who through their association with Matesabroad may visit our development partners overseas (i.e. donors, Australian Partner Organisations).

3. PRINCIPLES

The Matesabroad Child Protection Policy has four guiding principles:

  1. Zero tolerance of child abuse: Child abuse is not tolerated by Matesabroad, nor is possession of or access to child pornography.
  2. Recognition of children's interests: Matesabroad is committed to upholding the rights of children and recognises that some children, such as children with disabilities and children living in areas impacted by disasters (natural or conflict based), are particularly vulnerable.
  3. Shared responsibility for child protection: To effectively manage risks to children, Matesabroad requires the active support and co-operation of all its personnel. Matesabroad personnel must comply with this policy and will be held accountable for complying with it.
  4. Use of a risk management approach: Careful management can reduce the incidence of child abuse associated with aid activities. This policy introduces strategies for minimising a range of recognised risks to children.

4. DEFINITIONS

Child

In accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Matesabroaddefines a child or young person as any person below the age of 18 years, regardless of local laws orother definitions.

Child abuse

Child abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect or sexual abuse. Both boys and girls can be the victims of abuse, and abuse can be inflicted on a child by men, women and other children.

  • Physical abuse occurs when a person purposefully injures, or threatens to injure, a child or young person. This may take the form of slapping, punching, shaking, kicking, burning, shoving or grabbing.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse occurs when a child is repeatedly rejected and/or intimidated through verbal and/or non-verbal means. This may involve insults, taunts, threats and ridicule.
  • Child sexual abuse occurs when an adult, more powerful child, or adolescent, uses his or her power to involve a child in sexual activity. That coercive power can be physical, verbal or emotional.

 

Child protection

An activity or initiative designed to protect children from any form of harm, particularly arising from child abuse.

5. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Matesabroad views child protection as a shared responsibility. To effectively manage risks to children, Matesabroad requires the active support and cooperation of all Matesabroad personnel.

Matesabroad also encourages awareness of child protection issues among our partner organisations.

Matesabroads endeavours wherever possible to reduce the risk of inappropriate behaviour by Matesabroad personnel. Accordingly, Matesabroad will exercise its right to dismiss or withdraw Matesabroad personnel when it considers that the person poses an unacceptable risk to the safety or well-being of children.

If deemed appropriate, Matesabroad may suspend personnel or transfer them to other duties as a temporary measure while an investigation is conducted.

Our responsibilities

Pre-volunteering checks

Matesabroad personnel will:

  • Read, demonstrate understanding and agree to the Matesabroad Child Protection Policy
  • Declare any past child protection breaches.
  • Submit to and upload record of a criminal record check
  • Upload evidence of identity (e.g. Passport for international volunteers)

During the program

Matesabroad personnel will:

  • Treat every child with dignity and respect regardless of differences of ethnicity, religion, age, ability, gender, sexual orientation, race, colour, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, disability, birth status, and economic circumstances
  • Conduct themselves in a manner consistent with their position as a positive role model to children and as a representative of Matesabroad
  • Immediately raise and report any concerns for the safety or wellbeing of a child with the CVCD [CEO of Matesbaroad partner NGO  in  Cambodia] and the  Matesabroad Australian Director, in accordance with the Matesabroad Code of Conduct
  • Be visible when working with children
  • Avoid being alone with children and wherever possible, ensure that other adults are present when working in the proximity of children
  • Comply with all relevant Australian and local legislation, including labour laws in relation to child labour.
  • Matesabroad personnel will not:
  • Engage in any behaviour that is intended to shame, humiliate, belittle or degrade children
  • Use language, make suggestions, offer advice or engage in any behaviour that is inappropriate, offensive, harassing, sexually provocative, demeaning, culturally inappropriate or abusive
  • 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 accommodation unless they are at immediate risk of injury or in physical danger
  • Physically punish or discipline any child
  • Engage any child or children in any form of sexual activity or acts, including paying for sexual activity or acts where, under the law(s) applicable to the child, the child is below the age of consent or the act(s) are an offence under relevant laws
  • Act in ways that may be abusive or place a child at risk of abuse or harm
  • Behave physically in a manner that is inappropriate or sexually provocative towards a child
  • Condone, or participate in, behaviour towards children which is illegal, unsafe or abusive
  • Act in a way that shows unfair differential treatment, or favour towards particular children to the exclusion of others
  • Record or publish any child's name or any address details with photographs
  • Hold, kiss, cuddle or touch a child in an inappropriate, unnecessary or culturally insensitive way.
  • Touching should only be in response to the need of the child; be only with the child’s permission (except in an emergency situation); avoid the breasts, buttocks and groin; and be open and non-secretive.
  • Use any computers, mobile phones, or video and digital cameras inappropriately, or access child pornography through any medium
  • Hire children for domestic or other labour which is inappropriate given their age or developmental stage, which interferes with their time available for education and recreational activities, or which places them at significant risk of injury

If any of these activities occur, you should report it immediately to the appropriate Matesabroad representative and record the incident

Photography or filming involving children

Photographing or filming of children is generally not required for Matesabroad project-related purposes. Volunteers should be mindful of the following if they are photographing or filming a child:

  • Assess and endeavour to comply with local traditions or restrictions for reproducing personal images. If in doubt, queries are to be directed to the program team leader in the first instance or the CVCD CEO.
  • Wherever possible, obtain consent from the child and a parent or guardian of the child. The intended use of the photograph or film should be explained to the parent or guardian of the child
  • Ensure photographs, films, videos and DVDs present children in a dignified and respectful manner and not in a vulnerable or submissive manner
  • Ensure images are honest representations of the context and the facts
  • Ensure photograph or film labels do not reveal identifying information about a child when sending images electronically.

 

6. CONFIDENTIALITY

Matesabroad will ensure that any concern raised is handled according to the principles of confidentiality, safety, impartiality, thoroughness, timeliness and accuracy.

All complaints and reports, and the names of people involved, will be handled in the strictest of confidence. Details will only be released on a ‘need to know’ basis, or when required by relevant local or Australian law, or when a notification to police or child protection authorities has been made

7. POLICY MANAGEMENT

This policy takes effect from the date of approval by the Board as noted below.

Amendments and or developments will be recommended to the Board from time to time as deemed appropriate by the CEO together with the Administration Manager and the Advisory Committee.

Formal reviews will take place before the expiry of three years from the anniversary date of approval by the Board. Recommendations for change will require Board consideration and if necessary Board approval.