Child Protection Policy


INTRODUCTION

Hands Across the World (HATW) undertakes a preventative approach to eradicate human trafficking, forced labour and sexual exploitation, through the provision and support of education, women's empowerment and local community participation.

 

This policy statement affirms HATW’s commitment to the welfare of children and their protection from all forms of child abuse, human trafficking, forced labour and sexual exploitation.

 

Consistent with HATW’s vision, mission and charter values of integrity, honesty, respect, commitment and transparency, we seek to create and maintain an organisational environment that is free of harassment and exploitation, and to ensure the same in all of our work with the communities that we work with. Each member of the community with whom HATW works or provides assistance must have HATW’s utmost assurance that they will not be subject to any form of harassment or exploitation.

 

Child abuse is a global problem that affects both boys and girls. It has existed since the beginning of time and is deeply rooted in cultural, economic and social practices. Children are abused physically, sexually, emotionally and through neglect. Children are forced to endure the most hazardous forms of child labour including sweat shops and prostitution. In some countries boys are kidnapped and forced into armed conflict as soldiers. In many countries children experience severe corporal punishment in schools. Children living in poverty are more at risk of child abuse, trafficking, forced labour and sexual exploitation. 

 

HATW is committed to having child-safe programs.


POLICY STATEMENT

HATW considers child abuse unacceptable in all circumstances and takes its duty of care seriously and will aim at all times to provide the safest possible programs and environments for children. This will be achieved by identifying and managing risks that may lead to harm.

 

HATW is committed to ensuring that all possible and necessary steps are taken to realise the rights of children and to actively safeguard all children that we work with, both in Australia and overseas, from harm.

 

We take seriously our responsibility to promote child safe practices and protect children from harm, abuse, neglect and exploitation in any form. We will take positive action to prevent child abusers becoming involved in HATW in any way and take stringent measures against any HATW members and/or associates who abuse a child. Our decisions and actions in response to child protection concerns will be guided by the principle of 'the best interests of the child' and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 

Adherence to this policy is a mandatory requirement for HATW members, volunteers and anyone associated with the organisation.


VISION

We aim to create child safe environments, both internally and externally, where children are respected, protected, empowered and active in their own protection and where the HATW Team and Associates are skilled, confident, competent and well supported in meeting their protection responsibilities.


PURPOSE

This policy will demonstrate HATW’s commitment to protect children from harm and abuse. This policy has been developed to provide a practical guide to prevent child abuse as a result of HATW’s work. It aims to create an open and aware environment where concerns for the safety and wellbeing of a child can be raised and managed in a fair and just manner, which protects the rights of all.


GUIDING PRINCIPLES

  • HATW believes that all children have a right to be safe at all times and we have an obligation to provide child safe and child friendly environments and programs.
  • All children have equal rights to protection from abuse and exploitation regardless of their gender, race, religious or political beliefs, age, physical or mental health, sexual orientation, family and social background and culture, economic status or criminal background.
  • All decisions regarding the welfare and protection of children are made based on the best interests of the child the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

SCOPE OF POLICY

This policy applies to:

 

  1. The HATW Team which includes both the Project Team and the Management Committee.
  2. HATW Associates which include: volunteers, interns, consultants and contractors, suppliers, supporters (including donors, sponsors, advocates, ambassadors). Also the staff and representatives of partner Organisations/Government with whom HATW has a formal working relationship, and anyone who has been brought into contact with children while working for or with HATW.
  3. HATW visitors – these include people such as journalists, media, researchers, celebrities etc. who may come in contact with children through HATW are also bound by this policy.

 

All of the above are referred to collectively as 'Participants'.


DEFINITIONS

Child: A child means every human being below the age of eighteen years. National law and guidance or local customs may be based on different definitions/notions of age of childhood/adulthood, but the standard for HATW is that children should receive equal protection as far as possible, regardless of local age limits.

 

Child Abuse: Child Abuse is defined as all forms of physical abuse, emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse and exploitation, neglect or negligent treatment, commercial or other exploitation of a child and includes any actions that results in actual or potential harm to a child.

 

Physical abuse: 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. The injury may take the form of bruises, cuts, burns or fractures.

 

Emotional abuse: Emotional abuse is a chronic attack on a child or young person's self-esteem. It can take the form of name calling, threatening, ridiculing, intimidating or isolating the child or young person.

 

Neglect: Neglect is the failure to provide the child with the basic necessities of life (where such necessities are available), such as food, clothing, shelter and supervision to the extent that the child's health and development are at risk.

 

Child Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse is when a child or young person is used by an older or bigger child, adolescent or adult for his or her own sexual stimulation or gratification, or economic gain.

 

Human Trafficking: Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery involving the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people in order to exploit them, through deceptive means, force or coercion.

 

Child Protection: Child Protection within the scope of this policy is defined as the responsibilities, measures and activities that HATW undertakes to safeguard children from both intentional and unintentional harm.

RISK IDENTIFICATION AND MANAGEMENT


HATW will not permit a person to work with children if they pose an unacceptable risk to children’s safety or wellbeing. Therefore, we undertake the following preventative measures: 

 

  • Proactively assessing and managing risks to children in our programs (and in the communities in which we work) to reduce the risk of harm. This is achieved by examining each stage of the project management cycle and its potential impact on children.
  • Proactively assessing and managing risks to children in our sponsorship, marketing and communications, information, systems and technology (IST) and human resource (HR) operations.
  • Implementing new preventative measures when gaps are identified.

 

As an organisation HATW is to always be aware, vigilant and uncompromising when implementing our Child Protection Policy. HATW participants and others should continually be aware of risks, and be actively minimising opportunities and situations where children can be harmed. 


RESPONSIBILITIES UNDER THIS POLICY

It is the responsibility of the Management Committee and the Project Team to ensure that all HATW Participants in their area of responsibility are aware of the importance of this policy, and successfully apply for a Working with Children Check (WWC Check) and/ or a Police Certificate. The WWC Check is a comprehensive criminal record check for certain people in child-related work in Western Australia. A Police Certificate is necessary to work with children overseas.

 

 

HATW staff, Associates and Visitors must:

 

  • Agree to abide by this policy
  • Receive a WWC Check and/or or a Police Certificate if in direct contact with children
  • Report any child abuse and protection concerns to the Child Protection Officer of HATW. This is a mandatory requirement and failure to do so may result in disciplinary action
  • Respond to a child who may have been abused or exploited in accordance with applicable local office procedures
  • Cooperate fully and confidentially in any investigation of concerns or allegations
  • Contribute to an environment where children are respected and encouraged to discuss their concerns and rights

REPORTING

It is mandatory for all HATW participants to report concerns or allegations of child abuse that relate to a child or participant involved with HATW.

 

HATW considers the abuse and exploitation of children to be completely unacceptable. We will take all concerns and reports of child abuse seriously and investigate and act on these reports immediately, with the highest priority.

 

An allegation of child abuse is a serious issue. In following this policy and local procedures, it is essential that all parties maintain confidentiality. Sharing of information, which could identify a child, an alleged perpetrator or the informant/reporter could put them at harm so should be done so strictly on a 'need to know’ basis. Unless abuse has actually been proved to have occurred, one must always refer to "alleged abuse".

 

If an HATW participant raises a legitimate concern about suspected child abuse, which proves to be unfounded on investigation, no action will be taken against this person.

 

Any HATW participant who makes false and malicious accusations, however, will face disciplinary action. HATW will take appropriate legal or other action against other participants who makes false and malicious accusations of child abuse.


UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD (UNCRC)

Adopted by the United Nations in 1989, the UNCRC covers the basic human rights belonging to all children. They include the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harm, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.

 

The UNCRC’s four key principles are: no child should be discriminated against; acting in the child’s best interests; children’s rights to survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. The Convention puts special emphasis on the need to protect children’s rights as early as possible in their lives.

 

By agreeing to comply with the UNCRC, the Australian Government recognises these human rights for children and must think about how children will be affected when it is making laws and policies.

HAW strongly upholds the principles included in the UNCRC.


REVIEW OF THE POLICY

HATW will review this policy annually, or earlier, if warranted or agreed by the majority of the Management Committee.