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Newsletter - December 2020

Child Safe Webinars

The Child Safe Team in collaboration with the VOOHC Monitoring team hosted webinars on the 27th October and 4th November to support VOOHC agencies in understanding and implementing the Child Safe Standards. The webinar discussed how the standards overlap with existing Statutory Procedures for Voluntary Out of Home Care and other relevant regulatory and practice standards. The Webinar encouraged providers to think about gaps relevant to their organisational culture in promoting child safety. The webinars were well attended by 341 participants from 236 organisations. We would like to thank everyone who attended and provided suggestions on how we may assist organisations to be child safe.

You can access a recording of the webinar on the website.

Child Safe Code of Conduct Resource

OCG has developed a resource for organisations to build their own Child Safe Codes of Conduct to support the Child Safe Standards in NSW. The resource explains the necessary components of a Code of Conduct and explains how it can be tailored to different organisations. The resource highlights that staff and volunteers should comply with a Code of Conduct that sets clear behavioural expectations of adults when working with children. We encourage VOOHC agencies to utilise the resource in creating a child safe environment in accordance with the following Standards:

  • Child Safe Standard 1: Child Safety is embedded in organisational leadership and governance and culture
  • Child Safe Standard 10: Policies and procedures document how the organisation is child safe.

Official Community Visitors (OCV) Scheme

Official Community Visitors are appointed by the Minister for Families Communities and Disability Services, under the Children’s Guardian Act 2019 and the Ageing and Disability Commissioner Act 2019. They visit children and young people in residential Out of Home Care (OOHC), people with a disability in supported accommodation and people in assisted boarding houses. These may include placements provided by VOOHC agencies.
The role of the OCV is to;

  • Inform the Minister, Ageing and Disability Commission, the Children’s Guardian and the Ageing and Disability Commissioner about matters affecting residents raised by residents, staff and those who have concerns for the residents
  • Promote the rights of residents and providing information and support for advocacy services
  • Refer complaints and matters to appropriate service providers (NSW Ombudsman, NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and the Office of the Children’s Guardian).

In order to carry out their role, OCV’s can enter and inspect service at any reasonable time without notice, talk privately with residents or employees. The OCV can inspect any document held by the service and provide advice and reports relevant bodies. For more information on OCV’s please see the Ageing and Disability Commission website.

CREATE’s Participation Best Practice Guide

The CREATE Foundation is the national consumer body representing the voice of children and young people with an out-of-home care experience. They have developed a second Best Practice Guide focusing on Participation. The guide is a useful resource for all organisations working in the OOHC sector including VOOHC and we encourage you to read, share and adopt these practices within your work.
Seven Participation Principles for creating child-friendly participation in OOHC:

  1. Recognise that young people’s participation in decision-making is underpinned by Child Rights culture
  2. Engage with CYP and allocate time to develop meaningful, respectful, and trusted relationships
  3. Use Strengths-based approached to promote agency and opportunity for YP
  4. Create culturally safe spaced and mechanism to encourage connection and participation
  5. Keep channels of communication open and use inclusive, respectful and child-friendly language
  6. Invest in recruiting, training and supporting quality staff
  7. Establish a working culture driven by professional integrity

VOOHC Checklist for families

The OCG has a resource on our website for parents arranging VOOHC, so they can choose organisations that best suits the needs of their child and their family. It is a checklist of questions parents and carers can ask potential VOOHC agencies to determine if they are child safe. Access the checklist on our website.

NDIS Commission on Regulated Restrictive Practices

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission has released a guide for Regulated Restrictive Practices. It is a useful guide which explains regulated restrictive practice and provides advice in line with a positive behaviour support framework.

COVID-19

With the continuing of restrictions within NSW, we understand that there are still many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to be committed to supporting voluntary out-of-home care service providers to respond to this health crisis and ensure the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people. Please contact the VOOHC team if you have any inquires at: voohc@ocg.nsw.gov.au

VOOHC Christmas Shut Down Period
The VOOHC Monitoring Team would like to wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday and would like to remind agencies about the OCG shut down period between 25 December 2020 and will reopen on Monday 11 January 2021. During this period the VOOHC Register will continue to operate, however any requests to the VOOHC Monitoring Team will not be addressed. VOOHC placements should continue to be entered into the VOOHC Register as usual (within 5 working days).

If you are concerned a child or young person is at risk of significant harm, please call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111. In life-threatening and time-critical situations always call Triple Zero (000).

Please contact the VOOHC Monitoring Team if you have any inquiries regarding the shutdown period at: voohc@ocg.nsw.gov.au or telephone (02) 8219 3798.