We recently sat down with Paul Davis, Co Founder and Director of Integroe Partners to discuss the importance of safeguarding, requirements and advice for NFPs ahead of his upcoming presentation at the 3rd Annual Not-For-Profits and Charities Legal Symposium, where he will focus on safeguarding policies.
Why is safeguarding an important topic right now?
Australian society has made very clear its expectations regarding the protection of children and vulnerable people when they are entrusted into the care of institutions.
In order to meaningfully respond to these expectations a more evolved appreciation of the risks to which children and other vulnerable people are exposed is required which not only means new learning but different attitudes to prevention and safeguarding.
The success of child-related services is likely to be dependent upon the extent to which revised practices, systems and attitudes may be demonstrated to their clients. In short the implementation of these changes is vital to the future viability and relevance of child –related organisations.
What do NFPs and charities need to do to meet their compliance requirements?
We recommend that NFP’s need to sit with the research and findings of the Royal Commission and ask –
- “How does this affect our service? What should we be doing differently?
- How can we show to our clients that our first priority is their safety and well-being?”
A response to these questions also calls for ongoing professional learning about risk management, complaint management, recruitment and screening of workers, and policy development.
The periodic audit of policies systems practices is an effective way of evaluating the extent to which safeguarding measures are in place and working effectively.
We also recommend that NFP’s and charities consider the capacity of their boards and leaders in terms of ensuring that there is appropriate expertise and multiple perspectives influencing decision-making.
However the most critical change is one related to the shift in attitude from one that is centred on compliance to a worldview that is characterised by safeguarding.
What are the top 3 errors that NFPs and charities make when it comes to designing a safeguarding policy?
Error 1: Now that the Royal Commission is over we can get on with business by picking up before we left.
Australian society has strongly communicated the view that a sophisticated response to prevention and child safety is required and that we can’t go back to old practices. The core business of NFPs and charities is to demonstrate to its clients the capacity to manage risk and respond effectively to inappropriate conduct in these settings in ways that meet contemporary standards.
Error 2: Most of the really bad behaviour happened in the past and we have good structures in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future.
No. Criminal conduct, poor professional conduct and insidious forms of grooming behaviours continue to be reported now. In addition to the emergence of peer to peer abuse, the prevalence of social media, the limitations of formal employment screening processes, and the pressures on modern families makes the current context one that requires new insights and strategies related to risk management.
Error 3: Our people know what to do and manage safety very well today, so minimal change is required
There is no doubt that many professionals have better knowledge about child protection principles than they did 5 or 10 years ago. However there is a need for this knowledge to be enhanced in order to effectively manage these increasingly complex issues.
What is your number one piece of advice to NFPs and Charities to successfully implement a safeguarding policy?
I think engagement in periodic audit processes will allow organisations to assess where they are at and where they need to go to reach the standard that provides assurance about safety and prevention.
What next? Once a policy is implemented, what will the next steps be going forward?
Professional learning on safeguarding;
Implementation of effective complaint management and whistleblowing policies;
Review and development of governance and leadership capacity to lead a paradigm shift that gives priority to safeguarding;
Audit, review and development of practices designed to manage safety.
Paul is an experienced employment lawyer, having acquired admission into the Supreme Court of NSW in 1993. He is an experienced LEADR accredited mediator who has managed the resolution of many complex disputes over many years. He is regularly engaged to co-ordinate sensitive workplace investigations and advise on complex professional standards matters. Paul has extensive experience in leading organisational change through the delivery of effective planning, policy development and training services. He brings significant governance experience to consultations relating to organisational review processes and advice on sponsorship. Paul is an experienced adult educator and leadership mentor. He facilitates strategic planning and discernment processes in a variety of organisational contexts. You can connect with Paul via LinkedIn .