Baw Baw Shire Council has implemented processes and training to ensure all Councillors, employees and volunteers know what to do and who to tell if they suspect abuse or are a victim, or if they notice inappropriate behaviour. This includes an understanding of the following legislation:
Failure to disclose: As defined in the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), a failure to act on the legal obligation upon all adults to report to Victoria Police where they form a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult (18 years and over) against a child under the age of 16 (16 being the legal age of consent).2
All adults in Victoria who have a reasonable belief that an adult has committed a sexual offence against a child under 16 have an obligation to report that information to the police.
A ‘reasonable belief’ is not the same as having proof. A ‘reasonable belief’ is formed if a reasonable person in the same position would have formed the belief on the same grounds.
Failure to protect: As defined in the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), a person with power and authority who fails to protect a child from criminal sexual abuse, they know of the risk of abuse, and can reduce or remove the risk but fail to do so.2
People of authority within the Council will commit an offence if they know of a risk of child sexual abuse and have the authority to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently fail to do so.
Grooming: As defined in the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), the act of communication, including online communication, with a child under the age of 16 or their parents with the intent of committing child sexual abuse. This includes predatory conduct undertaken to prepare a child for sexual abuse at a later time with the groomer (aged 18 years old or over) or another adult.2
Mandatory Reporting: There is a legal obligation under the Children Youth and Families Act 2005, for certain professionals to report when a child is in need of protection. Mandatory Reporters under legislation include Medical Practitioners, Nurses, Midwives, School Principals, Police Officers and Teachers (including early childhood teachers).
Baw Baw Shire Council has committed to being a child safe organisation that complies with all relevant legislation including the Child Safe Standards and the Reportable Conduct Scheme.
Council takes all allegations of child abuse seriously. Allegations or incidents can be reported by children, young people, families, community members, Councillors, employees, contractors, and volunteers.
Council has a Child Safety Reporting Procedure which outlines reporting requirements for suspected or actual abuse. This procedure includes information on how to report child abuse and/or neglect concerns within the organisation and to external authorities.