'Prevention is crucial' in safeguarding children

Daryl Higgins (Melbourne Catholic)

Working together to protect children and create child safe cultures was the focus of a workshop hosted by the Australian Catholic University (ACU) in Melbourne yesterday, Melbourne Catholic reports.

The "Safeguarding children: Leading change" workshop was for those involved in child protection, and provided thought leadership on how to prevent child abuse in a proactive manner.

The day was commenced with a Welcome to Country by Professor Br David Hall, the dean of La Salle Academy at ACU.

The director of the Institute of Child Protection Studies at ACU Daryl Higgins discussed the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse and what its findings, to date, have meant to organisations that work or come in contact with children, with the final report due in December 2017.

Professor Higgins said prevention is crucial and it has multiple facets, all of which require a cohesive approach. He said the first step for many organisations are police clearances and Working with Children checks. However, this only picks up offenders who have been caught and sentenced, so a broader approach needs to be taken to child protection and abuse prevention.

Professor Higgins said organisations need to promote respectful relationships between all staff, and between staff and children, and to ensure physically and emotionally safe environments for children are created.

Every organisation needs to analyse their risks – and regularly do so, as circumstances change. Not all organisations are equal, have the same settings, and need to change in the same manner, he said.

Dr Tim Moore, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Child Protections Studies at ACU, explained what the research and focus groups in schools with children have to say.

He said children often feel unheard, especially when they are describing physical feelings. "It is really important to listen to children and what they are saying to you," Dr Moore emphasised.


Safeguarding children: A workshop in leading change (Melbourne Catholic)


Safeguarding children is a shared duty (ACU)

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