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Code of conduct

Standard 3: A Code of Conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children

A Code of Conduct plays an important role in protecting children from harm.

They can:

  • provide clear written guidance on appropriate conduct and behaviour towards children
  • detail acceptable and unacceptable behaviours relating to the specific context of your organisation – for example physical contact, personal care, online communication, professional boundaries or complying with organisational policy and procedures
  • educate staff, volunteers, parents and children about the expected standards of behaviour and what will happen if a person does not comply
  • assist organisations to act on concerns or allegations of non-adherence to the Code of Conduct.

A child safe Code of Conduct sets clear expectations for behaviour towards and in the presence of children. It spells out clearly the types of behaviour that are appropriate and the types of behaviours that are inappropriate. It does not need to be an exhaustive list of all behaviours, but should provide overarching guidelines about behaviour expectations that are relevant to the work of your organisation.

Your Code of Conduct must be applied consistently. All breaches must be attended to in line with your organisation’s policy.
It is good practice to require your staff and volunteers to sign their agreement to adhere by your Code of Conduct at all times.

Having a Code of Conduct is one of the most effective ways to keep children safe from abuse, as:

  • when behavioural expectations are clear, staff, volunteers, children and their family members are more likely to behave appropriately and are more likely to report inappropriate behaviour
  • it makes it easier to identify and raise behavioural issues with staff and volunteers, and
  • it helps staff and volunteers become more aware of how their behaviour, and the behaviour of other adults, may affect the children they work with.

Your code of conduct should be widely communicated so that everyone in your organisational community understands what is expected of staff and volunteers within your organisation.

Next read about Standard 4: Screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel.

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