Mrs Ash

Dear Parents, Guardians, Students and Other Parishioners

 

September 3 ~ 9th is National Child Protection Week in Australia. Child protection is everyone’s work! So we are shining a spotlight on what we do at our school to keep children safe. I have written about the Child Safe Standards that came in effect in Victoria recently and you know we take the Standards very seriously at St Elizabeth’s. However, you would be wrong to think that schools were not worried about child safety before the recent Ministerial Order. We have always been concerned about the safety of children.

 

I am not sure how many of you are aware that teachers are mandated to inform the Department of Human Services Child Protection Unit if they form a reasonable belief that a child is being harmed. Children can be harmed in many ways, but if a teacher is told or sees evidence that creates a reasonable belief in their mind that the child is suffering from harm, they must make a report. Teachers can be fined hefty sums of money and have their careers ruined, if they do not report whenever they become aware that a child has been physically hurt, neglected, sexually abused or suffering from emotional or psychological harm.

 

This has been the case since the changes to Child Protection came about in Victoria in 1989. Some of you may remember the tragic case of Daniel Valerio who was killed by his step-father after being physically abused. This tragedy made us very aware that everyone needed to work together to protect children and our support services, including the Police and the Teachers and other professionals, were required by law to make reports to one organisation. Sadly, in Daniel’s case several organisations were aware of some of his story but there was not a unified response.   Not only do we make sure our staff know how to keep children safe but we also make sure that our environment is as safe as it can be. We regularly do audits to check the trees are healthy, the grounds are in good condition and security is effective. We have gradually been adding security features to our grounds so that visitors are directed through the office area and we have a registration process for visitors and contractors.

 

In the near future, we have 2 new projects coming up that will keep children safe and secure at St Elizabeth’s. We have money saved to repair the asphalt to the playground near the PAC and to lay a special polyflex softfall surface under the new shade structure behind the Prep room. This will help prevent trips and falls!

 

The other project that needs to be done is to restructure the front office area so that we have greater security over the central corridor of the school. If staff are attending to children in the First Aid room or using the photocopier in the workroom, we have no way of seeing and stopping strangers wandering down the centre of the school and accessing the children’s toilets and classrooms. We need to reconfigure the front office so the corridor is secure.

 

Both these projects will be expensive but will make sure that our children are safe and secure. We have been saving for these projects and hopefully the playground can be done by the beginning of next year and the administration area in 2018.

 

To celebrate all we do to keep children safe and secure, we will have a Safety Walk following a special assembly on Monday September 4th. All parents and Guardians are invited to come and look at the safety features we have in place at our school.

 

Christine Ash

Principal

cash@sedandenongnth.catholic.edu.au