POL-C-043, Version 1.0, 12 July 2012
Working with children and young people policy
The National Museum of Australia (the Museum) is a major cultural institution charged with researching, collecting, preserving and exhibiting historical material of the Australian nation. The Museum focuses on the three interrelated areas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture, Australia’s history and society since European settlement in 1788 and the interaction of people with the environment.
Established in 1980, the Museum is a publicly funded institution governed as a statutory authority in the Commonwealth Arts portfolio. The Museum’s building on Acton Peninsula, Canberra opened in March 2001.
This policy outlines the Museum’s policy and processes in regard to facilitating the safety of children and young people while:
- visiting public spaces including the exhibition galleries, Hall, Kspace and the Garden of Australian Dreams
- participating in public program activities
- participating in school programs (either teacher-guided programs or programs facilitated by staff)
- undertaking work experience.
The policy applies to:
- staff who are employed by the Museum
- volunteers assisting the Museum and the Friends of the National Museum of Australia
- contractors engaged by the Museum to deliver programs for children, young people and families.
This policy has been developed in consultation with the ACT’s Children and Young People Commissioner. The policy also operates within the context of the following existing external policies and processes.
3.1.1 National Police Check
All staff and volunteers are required to undergo a National Police Check. The checks confirm any unspent offences over the previous ten years, including assault, theft and sexual offences. This includes a check of offences which may be relevant to the care, instruction and supervision of children and young people.
3.1.2 Working with Vulnerable People background check
The Museum will comply with the ACT’s Working with Vulnerable People legislation to the extent that it applies to staff and volunteers working in the public galleries and cultural institutions sector in the ACT. The purpose of the legislation is to reduce the risk of harm to vulnerable people, including children, young people and adults with a disability, by establishing mandatory background checking and risk assessment systems for people working with vulnerable people in the ACT. The background check assesses an individual’s criminal history and non-conviction information, and undertakes an assessment as to whether an individual poses an unacceptable risk of harm to a vulnerable person.
The Museum will use the systems established under this legislation, in line with their implementation in the ACT, and will require all staff, volunteers, and contractors who work with children and young people at the Museum to undertake ‘working with vulnerable people’ checks. This background check will be in addition to the National Police Check.
3.1.3 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
Although Australia has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), it has not been incorporated into Commonwealth law. As an Australian Government agency, the Museum seeks to observe and implement the key provisions of the Convention to ensure children and young people are safe, valued, respected and protected.
The Museum is bound by and complies with all Commonwealth laws which aim to protect people from certain kinds of discrimination in Australian public life.
As a Commonwealth government body, the Museum is not bound by ACT laws in relation to working with children and young people (e.g. Human Rights Act 2004, Human Rights Commission Act 2005, the Children and Young People Act 2008 or the recently enacted Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Act 2011). However, where possible, the Museum endeavours to work in accordance with ACT legislation and policies in this area, to ensure the Museum develops and delivers services to visitors that are consistent with Territory standards to protect children and young people.
3.1.5 Risk management processes for visiting school groups
The Museum is aware that state and territory departments of education have mandatory risk management plans in place for schools undertaking excursions with students and, where possible, supports these processes.
This policy is designed to ensure that children and young people are safe while in the Museum’s public spaces, participating in Museum programs and activities or undertaking work experience.
The policy also provides a framework for staff, volunteers and contractors and guides them on how to interact with children and young people to ensure their safety at all times.
Each year the Museum attracts significant numbers of children and young people as visitors, including 85,000 school children, representing 10 per cent or more of our visitors. The Museum works on the principle that if children and young people feel safe, valued and welcomed, their learning and social experiences will be enhanced.
The Museum understands that the provision of experiences and programs designed specifically for children and young people brings a set of legal responsibilities.
The Museum has a shared duty of care to all visitors, but is aware that it is possible for children and young people to be unsupervised in some circumstances while in the Museum’s buildings or on its grounds, thereby increasing the risk of potential harm or injury.
The Museum’s approach to keeping children safe is predicated on the Museum’s posted recommendation to visitors that children should be in the care of a parent, teacher, carer, or guardian responsible at all times.
However, the Museum acknowledges that young people (aged 12–17) are more likely to visit the Museum unaccompanied, or without direct supervision, than is the case for children (aged 0–11).
All Museum staff and volunteers including security contractors and those working with the Friends of the National Museum of Australia share the responsibility for the safety of children and young people.
Each business unit that works with children and young people has in place comprehensive behaviour guidelines that identify how staff should conduct themselves when engaging with children and young people.
When working with children and young people, the Museum ensures that:
- staff, volunteers and contractors have undergone a National Police Check and, where available, a Working with Vulnerable People background check, and that these assessments are current
- appropriate behaviour guidelines and procedures are in place for working with children and young people, and staff, volunteers and contractors are trained in these procedures
- a physical security system is provided throughout its public spaces and galleries and a key element of this system is the presence of cameras that are monitored by security staff on a continual basis
- the Museum’s risk plan for programs and activities assesses risks to visitors, including children and young people, and mitigation strategies are identified.
5. Training of staff and volunteers
The Museum is developing a training program for all Museum and volunteer staff who work with children and young people. The training is based on the ‘Child Safe Child Friendly’ program being developed by the ACT Children and Young People Commissioner, and is designed to:
- educate staff about standard practices, including legislative requirements when working with children and young people
- build skills for staff, and provide tools and resources for them to utilise when working with children and young people
- assist staff in identifying areas of risk when planning and implementing programs for children and young people
- identify mandatory reporting requirements where relevant.
All staff working with children and young people as a core component of their employment responsibilities will be required to undertake this training
6. Handling of inappropriate conduct or complaints
Any suspicious or inappropriate conduct towards children and young people is required to be reported immediately. All reports are dealt with in accordance with the Museum’s Security Management Procedures. Any such incident involving a child or young person will be immediately reported to the Museum’s Security Coordinator and then, through the Chief Operating Officer, to the Director as soon as practicable.
Any complaints about interaction between children or young people and Museum staff or volunteers are handled through the Museum’s existing complaint handling procedures.
- The Museum’s Client Services Manager will refer complaints to the appropriate manager.
- The manager will contact the complainant and attempt to resolve the issue immediately.
- If an immediate response is not possible, the Museum will attempt to resolve the issue within 10 working days, or advise the complainant why the complaint will take longer to resolve.
- If the complainant is dissatisfied with the Museum’s response, the complainant can contact the Australian Human Rights Commission or, in some circumstances, the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
- The Museum will also inform complainants that they may contact the ACT Children and Young People Commissioner in relation to their complaint.
Museum staff and volunteers are not required to report suspected abuse, however, the Museum recognises that there may be instances where it would be appropriate to report suspected cases to ensure the safety of a child or young person. Such reports are handled by the Museum’s Security Coordinator, who will report incidents to the ACT Care and Protection Services or to the Australian Federal Police. The Museum’s Security Coordinator will notify the Chief Operating Officer and the Director of all reported incidents.
7. Future directions
The Museum is committed to ensuring that the organisation’s policies and practices in regard to working with children and young people remain consistent with any legislative or policy requirements which are applicable to Commonwealth agencies, or which may apply to individuals working in the ACT. The Museum will continue to consult with the ACT Children and Young People Commissioner on a regular basis to ensure the Museum’s practices are relevant, appropriate and effective in ensuring children and young people visiting the Museum are provided with a safe and welcoming environment.
The Museum is committed to including advice from specialists in the field of working with children, when designing spaces specifically for children and young people. This consultation will enable the Museum to draw upon best practice in regard to design techniques that will engage and stimulate children and young people within Museum spaces, as well as ensure their safety.
8. Definition of terms
A person aged 0–11 years.
A person aged 12–17 years.
A child or adult who is disadvantaged as a result of a physical or mental disability.
A child’s parent, carer, teacher, guardian, or other person who is responsible for supervision of the child while on Museum premises.
An assessment as to whether a person poses an unacceptable risk of harm to a vulnerable person.
9. Definition of responsibilities
Visitor Services and Volunteers (with Security)
Ensure the safety of visitors while in public spaces and galleries. Staff from this section also assist with the delivery of school and public programs, assist with evacuation procedures and arrange police checks for volunteers.
Ensures the safety of all visitors while in public spaces, including first aid.
Delivers programs for pre-school, primary and secondary school children and young people.
Public Programs and Marketing
Delivers programs for children including holiday workshops and activities.
Arranges police checks for staff and provides technical advice in relation to health and safety.
Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth).
Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth).
Child Safe/Child Friendly, Training Program Participant’s Guide, ACT Children and Young People Commissioner, October 2011.
Experience Counts: ACT Work Experience and Structured Workplace Learning Program, ACT Department of Education and Training, September 2009.
Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT).
Human Rights Commission Act 2005 (ACT).
Keeping Children and Young People Safe: a shared community responsibility, ACT Community Services, September 2011.
Kids Matter: Safe and Secure Cultural Environments for Children in the Australian Capital Territory, unpublished report prepared as a Cultural Management Development Program project by Peter Appleton, Helena Bezzina, Kelee Hodge, Emily Pollnitz and Libby Stewart, 2009.
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 1990
Working with Vulnerable People (Background Checking) Act 2011 (ACT)
The majority of elements of this policy have been in place since the Museum opened its building on the Acton Peninsula in 2001.
All Museum staff, volunteers and contractors who have contact with children and young people, specifically Friends of the National Museum of Australia, Public Programs and Marketing, Education, Security, Human Resources, Visitor Services and Volunteers, and Exhibitions.
11.2 Other related documents
Education and Visitor Services, Working with children and young people procedures
11.4 Superseded policies
This is a new policy.
The policy is to be reviewed in November 2014.
12 July 2012
22 February 2012
Public & all staff
Child protection, risk, safety
Assistant Director, Audience, Programs and Partnerships
This is the first time this policy has been established at organisational level.
Procedures under development
National Museum of Australia
Approved by Council 22 February 2012