Protecting Our Students from Predatory Behaviour
Students with special needs are especially vulnerable to abuse since they often have little understanding of social actions and behaviours and, more importantly, very often have no voice, since they have limited speech or may be non-verbal. There are many times when safety is particularly important, for example, during toileting. Toileting involving help from others is sometimes continued with students with special needs into adolescence and also into adult life. Parents are understandably concerned that all should be done to ensure that their child is under no threat from physical or sexual abuse during these procedures or indeed at any time while at school.
The following processes are in place to ensure the safety of students while at Mount Hawthorn ESC:
- We are fortunate to have a high staff to student ratio and students are not alone at any time during the school day, either at school or on excursions.
- The Department of Education has very strict guidelines to govern who can be employed in schools. All staff who come onto school grounds must have an up to date working with children check (WWCC) as well as current National Criminal Screening Check. None of our staff, including all relief staff, are allowed to work in the school if their documentation is out of date, even by one day.
- All of our teachers are registered with the Teacher Registration Board of WA (TRBWA) and all of our education assistants are professionally qualified and have a Cert IV or equivalent. We do not hire education assistants who are not qualified.
- All our staff have completed online Mandatory Child Sexual Abuse training courses and are familiar with the procedures involved in reporting suspected abuse.
- The Department has a Code of Conduct which we must all adhere to and there are clear steps which a principal must take if an allegation of staff misconduct were to occur.
- For students who are not fully independent for toileting, consultation between teachers and parents ensures that procedures are clear and agreed and followed by all parties.
- Students on excursions will be guided to or taken into individual disabled/universal access toilets and never sent into multiuse toilets alone in which they may encounter members of the public.