Ongoing education and training

This month we continue the discussion regarding recruitment of personnel by elaborating on the onboarding process, including induction and training.
As discussed in last month’s newsletter, a safeguarding induction should occur for all personnel as soon as possible after commencement.  This induction applies to all categories of personnel, including employees, volunteers and religious members or clergy transferring into the Church entity from another organisation.  The induction should cover the six bullet points noted in Indicator 7.1.2 of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards (NCSS)– safeguarding commitment and policy, Code of Conduct, complaints procedures, reporting obligations, risk management and e-safety. 

There are many ways that this induction can be conducted.  Some Church entities require new personnel to undertake a safeguarding module online, for example, the online Catholic Church Insurance Safeguarding Essentials course.  Whilst these courses provide an introduction to safeguarding including relevant information regarding legal responsibilities and duty of care within the Church context, they should still be supplemented with separate information on the entity’s own Safeguarding Policy, Code of Conduct (including requesting the new individual to sign/acknowledge the Code), information regarding managing/escalating concerns or complaints internally within the Church entity (in conjunction or complementary to the legal/regulatory reporting obligations), a discussion on risk management (including any risk assessment conducted for the area/ministry where the individual would be working), and a discussion on e-safety (e.g. drawing attention to the entity’s IT policy or use of technology guidelines).

We have found that using a checklist for the safeguarding induction is the easiest way to ensure that the required topics have been covered and these topics can easily be added to an existing induction checklist/template that many organisations have in place for onboarding of new employees.

Once the safeguarding induction is completed, a decision needs to be made as to who needs further in-depth training on safeguarding.  For example, employees who are not child facing or volunteers who do not require a working with children check may not need further training if the safeguarding induction has been comprehensive, as noted above. 

For other personnel, additional in-depth training on safeguarding should be provided which can be categorised as follows (as per NCSS indicators):

Supporting children to raise concerns

  • 2.4.1 – Personnel have the knowledge, skills and awareness to identify potential signs of harm and actively support children to raise any concerns.  This requires an understanding of the signs of harm in children and age-appropriate ways to interact with and discuss concerns with children (as distinct from complaints/disclosures from an adult);
  • 7.3.1 – The entity provides training to equip relevant personnel to appropriately respond to and support those bringing forward concerns, disclosures and allegations of child abuse.  This indicator is linked to criterion 4.1.2 - regarding recognising barriers to disclosure and ensuring personnel support children in raising concerns by providing a safe environment, as well as by responding appropriately (e.g. through the use of age-appropriate interview techniques, language etc).

Ongoing professional development

  • 7.1.4 – The entity ensures that personnel who have specific child safeguarding responsibilities, such as those appointed to the role of safeguarding co-ordinator and those appointed to the safeguarding committee, receive ongoing support and professional development relevant to their role.  We would expect to see additional and ongoing training provided to safeguarding officers as well as members of the safeguarding committee, parish/pastoral council and those who take a leadership or oversight role in safeguarding practices. 

Risk factors, grooming and abusive behaviours by a child towards another child

  • 7.2.1 – This criterion requires knowledge of specific safeguarding concepts including an understanding of the nature and impact of child abuse, identifying risk factors (including grooming behaviours) and responding to abusive behaviours by a child towards another child (e.g. bullying). 

Information Sharing and Record Keeping

  • 7.3.2 – The entity provides training to ensure personnel are aware of information sharing and record keeping policies and procedures.  Our audits to date have indicated that this criterion is often not addressed.  Whilst the entity may have an appropriate information sharing and record keeping policy, this policy is often not communicated to relevant personnel.  This policy should be provided to and discussed with all personnel who are involved in capturing, recording and maintaining key safeguarding records, policies and documents.  This includes leaders, safeguarding officers, personnel who maintain Working With Children Check registers as well as archivists, librarians and professional standards officers who maintain complaints records or records related to movement of religious members and clergy.

Cultural Safety

  • 7.4.1 – The entity provides cultural safety training to equip relevant personnel to create culturally safe environments.  Our audits to date have indicated that this criterion is often not addressed.  This Indicator requires training personnel how to respond in culturally appropriate ways to those who wish to raise a concern or complaint.  The ways in which to create culturally safe environments will differ for various entities and ministries and will largely depend on the demographic to whom the entity is ministering.  However, we recommend that cultural safety be considered for every key ministry and training developed and provided as appropriate.

Refresher Training and Records of Attendance

As per NCSS Indicator 7.1.1, refresher training should be undertaken for ALL personnel at least every three years, with records kept of attendance at training.  The entity needs to be clear on its training expectations and the actions it will take for personnel who don’t attend the required training – this might include taking these individuals off rosters, standing down from ministry or other disciplinary actions.
For more information on how to implement the above training Indicators, please refer to the respective Implementation Guides for Standards 2, 4 and 7 which are available on the CPSL website.
Don't forget, there is information about the audit process and methodology as well as links to key documents such as the Self-Assessment of Compliance available on the Audit Framework section of the website. You can also see previously monthly Demystifying Audit columns exploring audit at the links below.

To begin discussing a safeguarding audit with us and to obtain a copy of the Schedule 2, please contact Tania Stegemann, Director of Compliance – or call 1300 603 411.