Scouts NSW has today launched its Child Safe Advocates Scheme, appointing a panel of 20 uniformed volunteers and professional staff to become the ‘on the ground’ face of the Association’s Child Safety initiatives in New South Wales.
These Child Safe Advocates will attend Scout events and activities across the State, spreading the message about Child Safety to members, and providing a listening ear and support to those concerned about their own safety, or the safety of another member.
According to Neville Tomkins OAM JP, Chief Commissioner of Scouts NSW, the Scheme is a vital initiative which allows the Association to continue its work in safeguarding the wellbeing of children and young adults in its care.
“Scouts NSW is committed to developing a culture where all members understand they have a right to feel safe,” Mr Tomkins said.
“Our Youth Commissioner is taking a significant lead in the Child Safe Advocates Scheme, working in partnership with our Child Projection Team to develop the program and ensure its implementation is aligned with, and incorporates, the needs and opinions of our youth members.”
Lloyd Nurthen, Youth Commissioner of Scouts NSW says his role is to ensure the voice of youth members is clearly and loudly heard. “The launch of the Child Safe Advocates Scheme will ensure all our members, including youth members in particular, are able to enjoy Scouts within an environment where they feel safe, supported and empowered, and can speak openly about any safety issues and concerns they may have,” Mr Nurthen said.
Each Child Safe Advocate has undergone extensive online training by the Office of the Children’s Guardian, as well as face-to-face training with Scouts, to understand how to take disclosures from youth and adult members and report them appropriately.
Scouts NSW Child Protection and Issues Management Officer, Elaine Heaney, says this training is key to developing a child safe environment where individuals feel safe speaking out about difficult topics.
“Scouts NSW has zero-tolerance for abuse, and our policy is to immediately report any allegations criminal conduct directly to the police,” Ms Heaney said. “By giving members a supportive environment where they can speak openly about child safety issues or concerns, we hope that more people will be empowered to report suspicions or concerns.”
Each Advocate will wear a unique Child Safe Advocate badge and woggle at events to allow youth and adult members to easily identify them as someone who understands child safety and are there to listen and support members who wish to raise concerns.