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Human resource practices

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

You must develop and implement human resource practices that reduce the risk of child abuse occurring within your organisation.
Unsuitable people are less likely to apply to work in an organisation that has a highly visible child safe culture.

This means:

  • promoting your commitment to child safety
  • having clear duty statements
  • assessment processes to engage only the most suitable people to work with children (whether in a paid or voluntary capacity) and deterring unsuitable people from applying or being appointed by:
    • having robust recruitment practices
    • providing high quality supervision and professional development, including understanding the nature and signs of abuse, cultural competency and the vulnerability of particular groups of children.

The child safe human resource processes you put in place are going to depend very much on the size and structure of your organisation, but you might like to consider:

Promoting your commitment to child safety

  • Include in any job advertisements that your organisation is committed to child safety and has a zero tolerance approach to child abuse.
  • Detail the mandatory requirements, background experience and screening procedures required to be met by the successful applicant. 

Have clear duty statements

  • Ensuring that any roles on offer in your organisation have a position description attached to them. This should clearly detail the responsibilities involved in performing the role. Position descriptions are valuable because they will help you to hold staff and volunteers to account if it appears that they are behaving in a way that is unsuitable for work with children.

High quality recruitment practices

  • Develop key selection criteria for recruitment (paid or volunteer).
  • Carefully and holistically assess the suitability of applicants for paid and volunteer roles that will work closely with children.
  • Give consideration to the applicant’s motivation to work with children, their values and attitudes towards working with children and their understanding of children’s rights and needs and what keeps them safe.
  • Screening potential staff and volunteers – more than just requiring them to obtain a Working with Children Check (WWCC) – may enable you to identify and avoid recruiting people who are not suitable to work with children. While the WWCC is a useful tool to identify people who pose a risk of harm to children, it does have some limitations and the Betrayal of Trust inquiry found that it is relied upon too heavily.
  • You must conduct background checks on any potential staff and volunteers that will be working with children. This may include a number of different things – such as a WWCC, a police check, referee checks and identity checks.
  • It is strongly suggested that you speak with at least two referees of any potential staff member or volunteer, including the applicant’s current or most recent direct supervisor.  Ask probing questions about the potential staff member or volunteer’s suitability to work with children.

High quality supervision and professional development

Supporting staff and volunteers with supervision and training opportunities will enable them to provide high quality care to children and young people.

Train staff in understanding the nature and signs of abuse, cultural competency and the vulnerability of particular groups of children.
Providing a positive, supportive working environment for new and existing staff and volunteers will allow them to perform to the best of their ability and to provide a safe environment for children in your organisation. This could include:

  • induction for new staff and volunteers, including discussion about child safety and your Code of Conduct
  • formal and informal supervision and mentoring
  • training opportunities.

Next read about Standard 5: Processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse.

More information