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By the very nature of their mission and ethos, Catholic schools in Queensland place the highest priority on the safety and care of the children and young people who are their students.
Catholic school authorities in Queensland continue to create teaching and learning communities in Queensland Catholic schools in the context of the nine elements of the National Safe Schools Framework.
Catholic educators are constantly working to build on existing policies and procedures, and working to develop proactive approaches to student protection.
Catholic schools see student protection as not only complying with regulations but moving beyond mere compliance to prevention by creating open, aware cultures where people have the commitment and knowledge to identify risks of harm and respond appropriately.
The Education (Accreditation of Non-State Schools) Act 2001 and the Education (Accreditation of Non-State Schools) Regulation 2001provide the overarching legal requirements for student protection in all Catholic schools in Queensland. The fundamental obligation is for each school to develop and maintain a Risk Management Strategy which seeks to reduce the risk of harm to students. It also includes documentation of policies and procedures which demonstrate the school’s compliance with all other forms of child protection legislation in this state and implementation of best practice procedures for the protection of children and young people from harm.
The consequences of failing to act in accord with legislation and regulations are serious because of the potential impact on the lives of students, the well-being of families, school staff and the reputation of the school itself. In addition, failure to comply will attract considerable penalties in the form of fines, convictions and can place the accreditation status of the school in jeopardy.
QCEC Student Protection Reference Group
Because this is such a serious, complex and continually evolving area of activity, QCEC has retained a Student Protection Reference Group that regularly advises the Commission on student protection issues.
Student Protection Resources
Student health and wellbeing are critical areas for policy development and action between the Australian and State government and the education sectors. Significant policy and program development is occurring in the areas of:
National and state initiatives, activities and programs developed in of student health and wellbeing include:
Social–emotional learning (SEL) is the umbrella term for the many different kinds of prevention programs that focus on a wide range of behaviours in school including externalizing behaviours, internalizing behaviours, empathy, social problem solving, caring for others, positive coping skills, and perspective taking, to name a few.
The Catholic Church’s social doctrine, in fact, develops from the principle that affirms the inviolable dignity of the human person. At the very heart of the Gospel is life in community and engagement with others. The Catholic school, therefore endeavours to provide:
Chaplaincy and student welfare worker services provide students and staff with social, emotional and spiritual support, provide an additional adult role model in the school and enhance engagement with the broader community including parents. Funding has been provided by the Australian Government through the National School Chaplaincy program (NSCP) and the Queensland Government through the Student Welfare Worker Program (SWWP) to support schools through the provision of chaplaincy and student welfare workers. These programs are funded separately and a successful application for one program does not allow funds to be transferred to the other. Further information and supporting documents are below.
The purpose of the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) is to assist schools to engage the services of a chaplain to provide additional social, emotional and spiritual support to students. Under the funding agreement with the Australian Government, Catholic schools who have a chaplain under the NSCP, must provide evidence that appropriate processes are put in place and reviewed at a minimum of a 6 monthly basis to ensure that:
As part of the Project Agreement for the NSCP, NSCP funded chaplains are to complete a three hour online professional learning package aimed at responding to and preventing cyberbullying. The online professional learning package, developed and delivered by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, will be available free of charge to NSCP chaplains commencing in July 2019, for a period of 18 months.
If a complaint needs to made about a chaplain, please follow the complaints process outlined by QCEC.
Download our NSCP fact sheet here.
The purpose of the SWWP is assist schools to engage the services of a student welfare worker to provide additional social, emotional and spiritual support to students.
Under the funding agreement with the Queensland State Government, Catholic schools who have a student welfare worker (SWW) under the SWWP, must provide evidence that appropriate processes are put in place and reviewed at a minimum of a 6 monthly basis to ensure that:
Note: SWWs may be ‘working towards’ the above qualifications.
This certificate or equivalent qualification must include two units of competency in ‘making appropriate referrals’, ‘mental health’, ‘working with young people’ or ‘cultural awareness and support’.
If a complaint needs to made about a student welfare worker, please follow the complaints process outlined by QCEC.
Read our SWWP fact sheet here.
A number of resources have been developed to assist school communities deal with the trauma of a natural disaster.
The Education Queensland website also has a collection of resources and vodcasts available here.
Information on school closures is available here.
The Department of Education and Training has developed a number of training materials and resources to raise awareness of domestic violence and support available to assist staff experiencing domestic and family violence. In addition, curriculum resources have been developed for use in schools.
PowerPoints have been developed for both school staff and Catholic Education Office staff to raise awareness of domestic and family violence, its impact and prevalence and the supports available to assist staff personally affected.
These resources have been modified for general use in Catholic education workplaces and schools but individual Catholic School Authorities may wish to further tailor resources. This information has been highlighted in the attachments.
The Department of Education and Training has developed the Respectful relationships education program as part of the Queensland Government’s commitment to ending domestic and family violence. The program has been developed in consultation with a range of stakeholders including teachers and school communities.
Recently, the Queensland Government introduced a new Charter of Victims’ Rights. A short video on the rights provided to victims of violent crimes, including domestic and family violence has been produced. This video highlights how victims of crime should be treated, including the information that should be made available to victims, particularly in relation to criminal justice system processes. Victim Assist Queensland (Ph: 1300 546 587) also provide valuable information on financial assistance, counselling, court and other supports available for victims of violent crimes. Visit the Queensland Government’s Victims and witnesses of crime website for information on supports available.
Specialist DFV Services
Employees and others, who believe their immediate physical safety or the safety of others within their household is at risk, should contact the Queensland Police Service on telephone 000 (triple zero).
Specialist domestic violence counselling and crisis services can be accessed by calling:
Victim Assist Queensland (Ph: 1300 546 587, business hours)
Victims of violent crimes, including DFV are able to contact Victim Assist Queensland for assistance with:
For more information visit the Queensland Government’s Victims and Witnesses of Crime website.
In Queensland, if you are a victim of crime, including DFV, you have rights. A short video on the Charter of Victims’ Rights outlines the rights victims of crime have in the criminal justice system, the manner in which victims should be treated and the services available to aid recovery.