Chief Chat – Special Edition – Safety in Scouting

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Every young person who participates in a Scout activity has the right to feel safe. This is a fundamental element of the ethos of Scouting.

As you will all be aware, this week is National Child Protection Week - a vivid reminder of the importance of building stronger communities and environments where our children and young people feel safe, connected and respected.

Our key aim is to ensure young people are involved in decisions and are taken seriously.

In order to achieve this, Lloyd Nurthen, our Youth Commissioner, is launching an initiative called I Have the Right to Feel Safe. His role is to be the voice of our youth members so that we can all ensure our youth members 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.

Scouts NSW takes child safety extremely seriously. From the way we screen and recruit leaders, to the guidance we provide through our code of conduct, risk management procedures, behavioural management process and record keeping policies, we strive to offer support our adult members and to ensure all adults in Scouting in NSW understand the high standards we expect of them.

Today is White Balloon Day - an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to safeguarding the wellbeing of the children and young people in our care at Scouts. This is an opportunity for all of us to reflect upon the need to focus on safety in Scouting and to discuss this topic amongst ourselves, to see what each one of us can do to contribute to a child safe environment within Scouting.

In support of the I Have the Right to Feel Safe initiative, Lloyd and I are also proud to introduce a further initiative which will ensure a breadth of experience within the field of child safety across the organisation. This will be called the Scouts NSW Child Safe Advocates Scheme and through this scheme, experienced adults will champion a child safe culture at a grass roots level at our events and activities across NSW.

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Developed through a partnership between our Youth Commissioner, Lloyd Nurthen and the Child Protection Team, a new group of 20 Child Safe Advocates will provide on-the-ground advice and support to all of our members at activities across NSW.

Child Safe Advocates (or CSAs) are uniformed volunteers and professional staff, who have been appointed as the face of Scouts NSW Child Safety initiatives around our State. CSAs will attend Scout events and activities, 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.

Each CSA will wear a unique Child Safe Advocate badge and woggle at events to ensure they can be identified as a champion of child safety, provide advice and support, and where necessary, take disclosures and make reports.

Through the work of Lloyd and the Child Protection Team, this Scheme aligns with, and incorporates, the needs and opinions of our youth members and is designed to support our youth to have a clear voice in all that we do.

We are incredibly proud of the 20 Child Safe Advocates who have offered to step into these pivotal roles within our organisation. They will play an integral part in ensuring all our members, and our youth members in particular, are able to continue to enjoy Scouts in an environment in which they feel safe, supported and empowered, and can speak openly about any safety issues and concerns they may have.

If you would like to be put in contact with a Child Safe Advocate, or wish to nominate yourself as a potential Child Safe Advocate, please visit our websitewhere you can complete an expression of interest form or contact the Child Protection Team directly.

It is the responsibility of each individual in Scouting to take the time to read and understand the Scouts NSW Child Protection Policy and Procedures. This will ensure that everyone understands the appropriate steps to take should any form of abuse be brought to their attention. This includes knowing where and how to report child protection-related issues and concerns. Reporting is key to enabling us as an organisation to act quickly to deal with safety issues and is everyone’s responsibility.

All suspicions, concerns or allegations about criminal matters or child protection matters should be reported via the Child Health and Safety page on our website.

Our Child Safe Hotline – 1800 605 004 – can also be used to directly contact the Child Protection Team at State Office. All concerns will be taken seriously and dealt with appropriately.

If a young person is in imminent danger, the matter should be reported directly and immediately to NSW Police and you must then subsequently notify the Child Protection Team at State Office.

You may also be aware of recent legislative changes surrounding the Working With Children Check (WWCC). All Adults volunteering on overnight camps are now required to hold a WWCC. In Scouts NSW, this applies to parents and guardians of Youth Members who are providing assistance and attending overnight Scouting activities with their children.

To comply with these legislative changes and to prioritise the safety of our youth members in all Scouting environments, all adults attending overnight activities (including parents and guardians) are now required to obtain a WWCC and complete an Adult Helper Application Form (A2).

We acknowledge that this is a significant change in process and will take some time to implement. To enable this implementation, we have designed a four-month ‘grace period’ to the end of 2018, during which the process will be a recommended practice for all adults in Scouts NSW. From 1 January 2019 the process will be mandatory.

To help make this transition as smooth as possible, the State Office team has prepared support materials to including the introduction of an online version of the A2 form to make it easier for parents to complete and for Group Leaders and Region Offices to be able to action.

We encourage all Section Leaders to talk to parents about these changes, and encourage them to obtain a WWCC and complete an online A2 form. Information on how to do this can be found on our website.

The safety of our youth members is key and we must all work together to achieve an environment in which all members know that I Have the Right to Feel Safe. Thank you for your continued support of Scouts NSW. Your contribution, your energy and your commitment remains inspiring and is the reason we work so hard to achieve an environment within which young people can thrive. In the coming months and into the New Year, we will share more with you about this great initiative.

Together we have an important role to play within the Australian community. We are a significant contributor to the formative years of the young people who participate in Scouting and must ensure that we do our utmost to provide them with the tools they need to succeed.

Your support of these initiatives is so important to their success. Together we are stronger and as a community remain committed to delivering outstanding opportunities for more young people to thrive as future leaders in Australia. Their safety is our priority.

With best wishes,

Yours in Scouting,

Neville Signature Lloyd Signature
Neville Tomkins OAM JP
Chief Commissioner
Scouts Australia (NSW Branch)
Lloyd Nurthen
Youth Commissioner
Scouts Australia (NSW Branch)

Remember 

All suspicions, concerns or allegations about criminal matters or child protection matters should be reported directly to the Chief Commissioner, the Deputy Chief Commissioner (Youth Safety, Compliance and Support), the CEO or the Child Protection Officer at the NSW State Office.
To make a report use the online child protection form, call 02 9735 9000 or email childprotection@nsw.scouts.com.au

Imminent Danger
If a young person is in imminent danger, the matter should be reported directly and immediately to NSW Police on 131444.

Where a report is made to the police, you should also subsequently notify the NSW State Office.

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