Aish Australia Personnel Code of Conduct

Purpose

Aish Australia aims to provide children and young people with a positive and enriching social and educational environment that promotes their religious growth.

We are committed to safeguarding children and young people in our care and ensuring that they feel and are safe. Accordingly, we wish to ensure that our personnel strive for the highest possible standards with respect to safeguarding children and young people from abuse. To that end, we have developed this Code of Conduct to identify, and so prevent, behaviour that may be harmful to the children and young people in our care.

Application

All personnel, from our Board of Directors and Executive Team to casual staff and volunteers, are required to observe these guidelines. Developed to protect children and young people engaged in our programs, these guidelines have been formally approved and endorsed by our Board of Directors.

Commitment

You should read this Code of Conduct in conjunction with: – the specific requirements of your role as defined in your Position Description statement
– our relevant policy and procedure documents, including our:
– our safeguarding children and young people Commitment Statement
– our ‘Responding to child abuse reports and allegations’ policy
– all applicable laws
– general community expectations in relation to appropriate behaviour between adults and children.

As part of your commitment to observing this Code of Conduct, you will be required to sign a Commitment to Code of Conduct Statement.

We consider a failure to observe these guidelines as misconduct, and will take appropriate disciplinary action. Such disciplinary action may, depending on the seriousness of the misconduct, include suspension while matters are investigated and/or dismissal. In addition to any internal disciplinary proceedings, we will report to the police all instances in which a breach of the law has or may have occurred.

Exceptions

There may be exceptional situations where these guidelines do not apply, for example, in an emergency situation. However, it is crucial that, where possible, you seek management authorisation prior to taking action that contravenes these guidelines or that you advise management as soon possible after any incident in which these guidelines are breached.

The Code of Conduct

The practice and behaviour guidelines contained in our Code of Conduct address the major areas where you interact with the children and young people who take part in our programs. We have developed these guidelines to help you to safeguard those children and young people from abuse or neglect.

Sexual misconduct

Under no circumstances is any of our personnel to engage in or allow any form of ‘sexual behaviour’ to occur between, with, or in the presence of, children or young people participating in any of our programs. Engaging in sexual behaviour while participating in our programs is prohibited even if the young persons involved may be above the legal age of consent.

‘Sexual behaviour’ needs to be interpreted widely, to encompass the entire range of actions that would reasonably be considered to be sexual in nature, including but not limited to: – ‘contact behaviour’, such as sexual intercourse, kissing (of a sexual nature), fondling, sexual penetration or exploiting a child through prostitution – ‘non-contact behaviour’, such as flirting, sexual innuendo, inappropriate text messaging, inappropriate photography or exposure to pornography or nudity.

Positive guidance

We strive to ensure that children and young people participating in our programs are aware of the acceptable limits of their behaviour so that we can provide a positive experience for all participants. However, there are times when personnel may be required to use appropriate techniques and behaviour management strategies to ensure: – an effective and positive environment
– the safety and/or wellbeing of children, young people and personnel participating in our programs.

We require our personnel to use strategies that are fair, respectful and appropriate to the developmental stage of the children or young people involved. The child or young person needs to be provided with clear directions and given an opportunity to redirect their misbehaviour in a positive manner.

Under no circumstances are our personnel to take disciplinary action involving physical punishment or any form of treatment that could reasonably be considered as degrading, cruel, frightening or humiliating including restraint or seclusion.

Adhering to role boundaries

Our personnel should not, of their own volition or at the request of a service user, act outside the confines of their duties (as specified in their Position Description) when helping to deliver our programs.

Our personnel: – must not provide unauthorised transportation unless authorised under our transportation policy, for example, driving minor students home without parental permission.
– must not engage in activities with children or young people who are members of our organisation outside authorised programs, such as taking them out privately without recording it according to our guidelines.
– must not provide any form of support to a child or young person or their family, unrelated to our programs, for example, lending money to minors.
– must not seek contact with children or young people (or former participants) outside our programs.
– must not accept an invitation to attend any private social function at the request of a child or young person who has participated, or is participating, in our programs — unless with the consent of their family.

If any of our personnel become aware of a situation in which a child or young person requires assistance that is beyond the confines of that person’s role, or beyond the scope of our organisation’s usual service, they should at the earliest opportunity: – contact the child or young person’s parent or guardian or
– refer the matter to an appropriate support agency or – refer the child or young person to an appropriate support agency or
– seek advice from management.

Pre-existing relationships

Employees and volunteers are required to notify their manager when a child or young person with whom they have a pre-existing relationship is (or commences) receiving services from the organisation and the employee or and volunteer is providing or intends to provide services such as babysitting, transport or tutoring to the child or young person outside their role with the organisation.

Providing services outside their role

Personnel are discouraged from providing such services to children outside their role with the organisation and they must not use their position to solicit or initiate work with children outside their role with the organisation i.e. staff or volunteers should not approach children or parents to offer services. If they are approached to provide services, they must inform the person that the organisation discourages the provision of such services. If they are approached to provide services, they may provide such services where they are a direct family member or have a pre-existing relationship with the family.

They must inform their manager of any such arrangements, although this will not constitute approval or endorsement. They must inform the family (or alternate employer) that the arrangement is completely independent of their work for the organisation (primary employer).

Additionally, the organisation itself may inform the family (or alternate employer) that the arrangement is completely independent of their work for the organisation (primary employer).

Use of language and tone of voice

Language and tone of voice used in the presence of children and young people should: – provide clear direction, boost their confidence, encourage or affirm them
– not be harmful to children – in this respect, avoid language that is:
– discriminatory, racist or sexist
– derogatory, belittling or negative, for example, by calling a child a ‘loser’ or telling them they are ‘too fat’
– intended to threaten or frighten – profane or sexual.

Supervision

Personnel are responsible for supervising the children and young people to which our organisation provides programs to ensure those participants: – engage positively with our programs, for example, are included in the group discussion rather than allowed to actively and physically disengage from the group.
– behave appropriately toward one another, for example, speaking in an appropriate tone of voice.
– are in a safe environment and are protected from external threats, for example, are guarded by an appropriate community or private security group where sufficient risk has been identified.

Our personnel are required to avoid one-to-one unsupervised situations with children and young people to whom we provide services, and (where possible) to conduct all activities and/or discussions with service recipients in view of other personnel.

Use of electronic communications

Wherever possible, email and text messages sent to a child or young person should be copied to their parent or guardian.

Where a parent is not included in the communication: – Restrict such communication to issues directly associated with delivering our programs, such as advising that a scheduled event is cancelled.
– Limit the personal or social content in such communications to what is required to convey the service-related message in a polite, friendly manner. In particular, do not communicate anything that a reasonable observer could view as being of a sexual nature.
– Do not use such communication to promote unauthorised ‘social’ activity or to arrange unauthorised contact. – Do not request a child or young person to keep a communication a secret from their parents.
– Do not communicate with children or young people using Internet chat rooms or similar forums such as on social networking sites, game sites or instant messaging where communications cannot be observed.

Personnel are not to communicate with children outside our services — such as siblings or friends who are known to our personnel — via a child participating in the service.

All our personnel, and the children and young people to whom we deliver our programs, are required to follow our ‘acceptable use’ policy in relation to browsing websites on our organisation’s computers.

Our personnel are required to ensure appropriate monitoring of children and young people when they use our organisation’s electronic communication equipment to ensure that they do not inadvertently place themselves at risk of abuse or exploitation via social networking sites, gaming sites or web searches, or through inappropriate email communication.

Giving gifts

Our Executive Director or our Educational Director is to authorise any gifts to children or young people involved in our programs, or to their families, including rewards, prizes, treats, or second-hand equipment.

Photographs of children and young people

Children and young people to whom we deliver service are to be photographed while involved in our programs only if: – our Executive or Educational Director has granted prior and specific parental approval is given
– the context is directly related to participation in our programs
– the child is appropriately dressed and posed – the image is taken in the presence of other personnel.

Images (digital or hard copy) are to be stored in a manner that prevents unauthorised access by others, for example: – if in hard-copy form, in a locked drawer or cabinet
– if in electronic form, in a ‘password protected’ folder.
– Images (digital or hard copy) are to be destroyed or deleted as soon as they are no longer required.

Images are not to be distributed (including as an attachment to an email) to anyone outside our organisation other than the child photographed or their parent, without parental and management knowledge and approval.

Images are not to be exhibited on our website without parental knowledge and approval, or such images must be presented in a manner that de-identifies the child or young person. Any caption or accompanying text may need to be checked so that it does not identify a child or young person if such identification is potentially detrimental.

Physical contact with children and young people

Any physical contact with children and young people must be appropriate to the delivery of our programs such as when fitting sporting equipment or strapping a child into a seat belt, and must based on the needs of the child or young person (such as to assist or comfort a distressed young person) rather than on the needs of our personnel.

Under no circumstances should any of our personnel have contact with children or young people participating in our programs that: – involves touching:
– of genitals
– of buttocks
– of the breast area (female children)
that is other than as part of delivering medical or allied health services
– would appear to a reasonable observer to have a sexual connotation
– is intended to cause pain or distress to the child or young person, for example corporal punishment
– is overly physical – as is, for example, wrestling, horseplay, tickling or other roughhousing
– is unnecessary – as is, for example, assisting with toileting when a child does not require assistance
– is initiated against the wishes of the child or young person, except if such contact may be necessary to prevent injury to the child/young person or to others, in which case:
– physical restraint should be a last resort
– the level of force used must be appropriate to the specific circumstances, and aimed solely at restraining the child or young person to prevent harm to themselves or others
– the incident must be reported to management as soon as possible.

Our personnel are required to report to management any physical contact initiated by a child or young person that is sexual and/or inappropriate, for example, acts of physical aggression, as soon as possible, to enable the situation to be managed in the interests of the safety of the child or young person, our personnel and any other participants.

Overnight stays and sleeping arrangements

Overnight stays are to occur only with the authorisation of our Executive Director or our Educational Director and of the parents/guardians of the children or young people involved.

Practices and behaviour by our personnel during an overnight stay must be consistent with the practices and behaviour expected during delivery of our programs at other times.

Standards of conduct that must be observed by our personnel during an overnight stay include: – providing children and young people with privacy when bathing and dressing
– observing appropriate dress standards when children and young people are present, such as no exposure to adult nudity
– not allowing children or young people to be exposed to pornographic material, for example, through movies, television, the Internet or magazines
– not leaving children under the supervision or protection of unauthorised persons such as hotel staff or friends
– not involving sleeping arrangements that may compromise the safety of children and young people such as unsupervised sleeping arrangements, or an adult sleeping in the same bed as a child or young person.
– the right of children to contact their parents, or others, if they feel unsafe, uncomfortable or distressed during the stay
– parents expecting that their children can, if they wish, make contact.

Change room arrangements

Personnel are required to supervise children and young people in change rooms while balancing that requirement with a child or young person’s right to privacy. In addition: – personnel should avoid one-to-one situations with a child or young person in a change room area
– personnel are not permitted to use the change room area to, for example, undress, while children and young people are present
– personnel need to ensure adequate supervision in ‘public’ change rooms when they are used
– personnel need to provide the level of supervision required for preventing abuse by members of the public, adult service users, peer service users, or general misbehaviour, while also respecting a child’s privacy
– female personnel are not to enter male change rooms and male personnel are not to enter female change rooms.

Use, possession or supply of alcohol or drugs

While on duty, personnel must not: – use, possess or be under the influence of an illegal drug
– use alcohol (other than the responsible and controlled use of sacramental wine during rituals requiring its use) or be under the influence of alcohol.
– be incapacitated by any other legal drug such as prescription or over-the-counter drugs
– supply alcohol or drugs (including tobacco) to children and young people participating in our programs other than the absolutely controlled and limited minimum use of sacramental wine during the rituals requiring its use.

Use of legal drugs other than alcohol is permitted, provided such use does not interfere with your ability to care for children involved in our service.

Transporting children

Children and young people are to be transported only in circumstances that are directly related to the delivery of our programs – for example, they should not be given casual lifts.

Children are to be transported only with prior authorisation from our Executive Director or our Educational Director and from the child’s parent/guardian. Gaining approval involves providing information about the proposed journey, including: – the form of transport proposed, such as private car, taxi, self-drive bus, bus with driver, train, plane or boat
– the reason for the journey
– the route to be followed, including any stops or side trips
– details of anyone who will be present during the journey other than our personnel who are involved in delivering our programs.