Code of Conduct Policy

1. Introduction and Values

The Learning for Life Autism Centre Inc. (Learning for Life) is committed to creating an environment that:

  • respects the rights of the child and acknowledges the vulnerability of Aboriginal children, children from a culturally and linguistically diverse background, children with a disability and children at socio-economic disadvantage;
  • values diversity, expects inclusion and has zero tolerance for discrimination;
  • is committed to the safety and wellbeing of:
    • each child involved with Learning for Life; and
    • all Learning for Life employees, contractors, board members, volunteers, students on placement and the parents, guardians and other family members of children directly involved with a Learning for Life program;

Learning for Life is committed to promoting and protecting the interests and safety of children and has zero tolerance for child abuse. Development of a code of conduct is a key part of Learning for Life’s commitment to meeting the Victorian Child Safe Standards and protecting all vulnerable people from violence, abuse, neglect, exploitation or discrimination.

2. Purpose

This policy provides guidelines to enable Learning for Life to:

  • establish the expected standards of behaviour for all Learning for Life board members, employees, contractors, volunteers, students on placement and the parents/guardians of children directly involved with a Learning for Life program;
  • create and maintain a child safe environment that reflects the mission, beliefs, objectives and values of Learning for Life in addition to supporting Learning for Life’s Child Safe Policy;
  • promote desirable and appropriate behaviour which is free from violence, abuse, neglect, exploitation, harrassment or discrimination;
  • promote interactions within and at Learning for Life which are respectful, honest, courteous, sensitive, tactful and considerate.

3. Scope

This policy applies to all Learning for Life board members, employees, contractors, volunteers, students on placement and all parents or guardians of the children directly involved in a Learning for Life program.

4. Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the board of Learning for Life to ensure a Code of Conduct is developed and agreed for Learning for Life. Creation of the Code of Conduct should involve consultation with relevant parties to which the Code of Conduct is to apply.

The Executive Officer is responsible for ensuring all Learning for Life staff, board members, volunteers, students on placement, contractors and parents/guardians of children directly involved with Learning for Life programs are aware of the Code of Conduct and formally acknowledge their responsibilities under it.

Each board member, staff member, volunteer, student on placement, contractor and parents/guardians of children directly involved with Learning for Life programs are responsible for reading the Code of Conduct, formally acknowledging their responsibilities under it and abiding by it.

5. Definitions

Authorised Person means a person over the age of 18 years who is either the parent, legal guardian or other adult authorised (in writing) by a parent or legal guardian to take responsibility for the child and, in the event a parent or legal guardian cannot be contacted, act as an emergency contact for the child. Learning for Life will maintain a register of all Authorised Persons for each child involved in its services.

Child means a person below the age of 18 years unless, the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.

Child Abuse means all forms of physical abuse, emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse and other exploitation, neglect or negligent treatment, commercial (eg. for financial gain) or other exploitation of a child. Child Abuse covers any actions that results in actual or potential harm to a child including where a child witnesses family violence or where a child is subjected to bullying or racial, cultural or religious abuse.  Refer to the Child Safe Policy for additional information about different forms of child abuse.

Child Safe Policy means the Learning for Life policy implemented for the purpose of ensuring a safe environment for all children involved in a Learning for Life program and to promote an organisational culture of child safety.

Child Safe Risk Management Plan means the plan agreed between a child’s parents/guardians and Learning for Life that sets out the strategies to provide for a child safe environment for home therapy and mitigants in place for when an Authorised Person is not present during the consultation.

Child Safe Standards are the compulsory minimum standards for all organisations that provide services to children. The aim of the standards is to ensure organisations are well prepared to protect children from abuse and neglect.

Code of Conduct means the Learning for Life’s Code of Conduct set out in the attachments to this policy as relevant to either staff, board members, volunteers, contractors, students on placement or parents/guardians of children directly involved in a Learning for Life program.

Learning for Life means The Learning for Life Autism Centre Inc ABN 47 260 122 955

Vulnerable Person means anyone above the age of 18 who might not be able to look after themselves or protect themselves from harm or exploitation.

6. Attachments:

1. Code of Conduct for Board Members of Learning for Life

2. Code of Conduct for Employees, Contractors, Volunteers involved in therapy provision and Students on Placement of Learning for Life

3. Code of Conduct for Volunteers (other than Board Members or Volunteers involved in therapy provision)

4. Code of Conduct for Parents/Guardians

Attachment 1: Code of conduct for Board Members

All board members and Learning for Life commit to:

1. reading abiding by the Code of Conduct;

2. reading and abiding by the Learning for Life constitution and all Learning for Life policies;

3. maintaining an up to date and valid working with children’s check and advising the Executive Officer of any notifications registered against their working with children’s check;

4. working towards the achievement of the aims and purposes of the organisation;

5. competently carrying out the duties assigned to their position;

6. undertaking any training necessary for the performance of their duties;

7. working in partnership with others in a courteous and respectful manner and being fair, considerate and honest with others;

8. being professional in their actions and not acting so as to bring the organisation or its mission into disrepute;

9. maintaining strict impartiality;

10. placing the interests of the organisation over their own interests of those of any other person or persons in all business conducted under the aegis of Learning for Life;

11. devoting to their duties the amount of time required to carry them out thoroughly and effectively;

12. as far as possible, attending all meetings of the Board, and, in the event that they are prevented from attending any meeting of the Board, notifying the Secretary of their absence in advance of the meeting;

13. being responsible for the overall welfare and wellbeing of staff, contractors, students on placement and volunteers;

14. under guidance from the Executive Officer, nominate a Child Safety Officer to provide information and support to all staff, contractors, students on placement, volunteers, children, young people and their carers regarding child safety and wellbeing matters;

15. respecting the privacy of children, their families and carers, and only disclosing information to people who have a need to know in accordance with Learning for Life’s confidentiality and privacy policies;

16. being a positive role model for children;

17. treating children with respect and valuing their ideas and opinions;

18. maintaining a safe environment for children;

19. raising any concerns, including concerns about child safety, as soon as possible with relevant staff to ensure that they can be resolved efficiently; and

20. leading and promoting a culture of child safety and taking all reasonable steps to protect children from abuse; and

21. contacting the police (telephone 000) if a child is at immediate risk of abuse.

Without limiting the above, and with a view to confirming Learning for Life’s commitment to a child safe environment, all board members commit not to:

1. ignore or disregard any concerns, suspicions or disclosures of child abuse or harm of a vulnerable person;

2. shame, humiliate, oppress, exploit, belittle or degrade any child or vulnerable person;

3. unlawfully discriminate against any child or vulnerable person;

4. engage in any activity with a child or vulnerable person that is likely to physically or emotionally harm them;

5. initiate unnecessary physical contact with a child;

6. be alone with a child unnecessarily or beyond the scope of their role. For example, only in exceptional circumstances should a board member be alone with a child involved in a Learning for Life program. In all other circumstances, it would be expected that the child’s parent/guardian or a Learning for Life therapist would be present;

7. arrange contact, including online contact, with children outside of the organisation’s programs and activities;

8. photograph or video a child without the consent of the child and his/her parents or guardians;

9. work with children while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs;

10. engage in discussions about topics that a reasonable person would consider inappropriate or offensive in the presence of children (such as extreme violence, illicit drug use, sexualised references); or

11. use inappropriate (for example, violent, sexualised or discriminatory) language in the presence of children.

Attachment 2: Code of conduct for Employees, Contractors, Students on Placement and Volunteers involved with therapy provision

All employees, contractors, students on placement and volunteers involved with therapy provision at Learning for Life commit to:

1. reading abiding by the Code of Conduct;

2. reading and abiding the relevant industry or regulatory codes of conduct applicable to their role (such as, for clinical staff, the NDIS Code of Conduct and the Victorian Disability Worker Code of Conduct);

3. reading and abiding by all Learning for Life policies;

4. understanding and complying with their individual employment (or service agreement) contract;

5. maintaining an up to date and valid working with children check and advising their supervisor of any notifications registered against their working with children’s check;

6. ensuring they are carrying their working with children check card (either on their person or in the bag they bring to a session) whenever they are conducting sessions;

7. working towards the achievement of the aims and purposes of the organisation;

8. competently carrying out the duties assigned to their position;

9. undertaking any training necessary for the performance of their duties;

10. working in partnership with others in a courteous and respectful and manner and being fair, considerate and honest with others;

11. being professional in their actions and not acting so as to bring the organisation or its mission into disrepute;

12. maintaining strict impartiality;

13. following the directions of their designated supervisors as relevant to any work carried out for Learning for Life; and

14. be responsible for relevant administration of programs and activities in their area and maintain a duty of care towards others involved in these programs and activities.

15. respecting the privacy of children, their families and carers, and only disclosing information to people who have a need to know in accordance with Learning for Life’s confidentiality and privacy policies;

16. ensuring that only an Authorised Person collects a child from a therapy session held at the Learning for Life offices or takes handover of the child from a therapy session conducted at the child’s home;

17. advising their supervisor if they are conducting therapy in a child’s home without another adult present if this circumstance conflicts with the child’s Child Safe Risk Management Plan;

18. being a positive role model for children;

19. treating children with respect and valuing their ideas and opinions;

20. maintaining a safe environment for children;

21. raising any concerns, including concerns about child safety, as soon as possible with their supervisor (or, if the concern relates to behaviour of their supervisor, the next most senior staff member) to ensure that they can be resolved efficiently; and

22. contributing to a culture of child safety and taking all reasonable steps to protect children from abuse; and

23. contacting the police (telephone 000) if a child is at immediate risk of abuse.

Without limiting the above, and with a view to ensuring Learning for Life’s commitment to a child safe environment, all , employees, contractors, students on placement and volunteers involved with therapy provision commit not to:

1. ignore or disregard any concerns, suspicions or disclosures of child abuse or harm of a vulnerable person;

2. shame, humiliate, oppress, exploit, belittle or degrade any child or vulnerable person;

3. unlawfully discriminate against any child or vulnerable person;

4. engage in any activity with a child or vulnerable person that is likely to physically or emotionally harm them;

5. initiate unnecessary physical contact with a child. For example, where physical contact is relevant to a child’s therapy (or is noted as beneficial in that child’s therapy plan) it is acceptable for a therapist to initiate and engage in physical contact which reflects positive re-enforcement, relationship building and supporting personal tasks such as dressing and personal hygiene.  Where physical contact is not relevant to a child’s therapy, physical contact should only be initiated by the child and not the staff member;

6. be alone with a child unnecessarily or beyond the scope of their role. For example:

a. placement students or other volunteer: only in exceptional or emergency circumstances should a student on placement or other volunteer be alone with a child involved in a Learning for Life program and in all other circumstances it would be expected that the child’s parent/guardian or a Learning for Life staff member would be present;

b. psychologists: it is expected and within the scope of their role for psychologists conducting counselling sessions to be alone with a child for the duration of the session;

c. staff conducting sessions or assessments at school or kindergarten: if conducting a session or assessment at school or kindergarten, it is expected that the staff member abide by that school or kindergarten’s policies regarding supervision of the child;

d. therapists: therapists may be alone with a child while conducting therapy if it is permitted under that child’s Child Safe Risk Management Plan;

7. arrange contact, including online contact, with children outside of the organisation’s programs and activities;

8. photograph or video a child without the consent of their supervisor, the child and the child’s parents or guardians;

9. use a personal device to photograph or video a child, subject to the following:

a. if a parent/guardian of a child involved in a Learning for Life program sends a photograph or video of the child to a therapist’s personal device, that therapist should immediately delete the photo and ask the parent to send the photograph or video to the supervising psychologist’s work email address;

b. if a therapist needs to take photographs or videos of a child as part of the session it is recommended that the therapist:

i. ask the parent/authorised adult/teacher to take the photograph or video (and email it to the supervising psychologist if so required); or

ii. if available, obtain a Learning for Life ipad to take the video or photograph;

c. staff are permitted to photograph session notes if reasonably necessary (given these do not include identification or photos of the children), but any such photograph must still be deleted from the therapist’s phone (including ensuring deletion on any device which automatically uploads photographs taken on the phone) within a reasonable time and confidentiality must be maintained at all times;

d. staff are permitted to take photographs of children’s art work or other creations as long as the child (or an identifying body part) is not in the photograph and prior parent/guardian consent is obtained;

e. from time to time program supervisors take photographs or videos (with prior consent of the child’s parent/guardian) for training purposes or to support program related support discussions with senior members of the therapy team. In the event it is not reasonably practical to take this footage on a Learning for Life device the program supervisor may use a personal device as long as the footage immediately emailed to their Learning for Life email address and deleted from the personal device (including ensuring deletion on any device which automatically uploads photos taken on the phone);

10. work with children while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs;

11. engage in open discussions about topics that a reasonable person would consider inappropriate or offensive in the presence of children (such as extreme violence, illicit drug use, sexualised references); or

12. use inappropriate (for example, violent, sexualised or discriminatory) language in the presence of children.

Attachment 3: Code of conduct for Volunteers (other than Board Members or volunteers involved with Learning for Life therapy provision)

All Volunteers commit to:

1. reading and abiding by this Code of Conduct;

2. reading and abiding by all Learning for Life policies which apply to them;

3. reading and abiding by the volunteer agreement entered into with Learning for Life;

4. maintaining an up to date and valid working with children’s check and advising their supervisor or the Learning for Life volunteer manager of any notifications registered against their working with children’s check;

5. working towards the achievement of the aims and purposes of the organisation and not acting so as to bring Learning for Life or its mission into disrepute;

6.  working in partnership with others in a courteous and respectful and manner and being fair, considerate and honest with others;

7. being a positive role model for children;

8. maintaining a safe environment for children;

9. raising any concerns, including concerns about safety, as soon as possible with their supervisor or other relevant Learning for Life contact person to ensure that they can be resolved efficiently; and

10. contacting the police (telephone 000) if a child is at immediate risk of abuse.

Without limiting the above, and with a view to ensuring Learning for Life’s commitment to a child safe environment, all volunteers commit not to:

1. ignore or disregard any concerns, suspicions or disclosures of child abuse or harm of a vulnerable person;

2. shame, humiliate, oppress, exploit, belittle or degrade any child or vulnerable person;

3. unlawfully discriminate against any child or vulnerable person;

4. engage in any activity with a child or vulnerable person that is likely to physically or emotionally harm them;

5. initiate unnecessary physical contact with a child;

6. be alone with a child unnecessarily or beyond the scope of their role;

7. arrange contact, including online contact, with children outside of the organisation’s programs and activities;

8. photograph or video a child without the consent of the child, his/her parents/guardians and a senior Learning for Life representative and only using a device owned or contracted by Learning for Life;

9. work with children while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs;

10. engage in open discussions about topics that a reasonable person would consider inappropriate or offensive in the presence of children (such as extreme violence, illicit drug use, sexualised references); or

11. use inappropriate (for example, violent, sexualised or discriminatory) language in the presence of children.

Attachment 4: Code of conduct for parents/guardians

All parents and guardians commit to:

1. reading and abiding by the Code of Conduct;

2. reading and abiding by all Learning for Life policies which apply to them;

3. working towards the achievement of the aims and purposes of the organisation and not acting so as to bring Learning for Life or its mission into disrepute;

4. working in partnership with others in a courteous and respectful and manner and being fair, considerate and honest with others;

5. respecting the privacy of the Learning for Life staff working with their child. For example:

a. only sending emails to a Learning for Life email address, not a staff member’s personal address;

b. obtaining the consent of the Learning for Life staff member before taking a photo or video in which the Learning for Life staff member would be visible;

6. if their child undertakes therapy at home:

a. providing a safe place for Learning for Life staff and children to carry out therapy;

b. ensuring an Authorised Person is at home before and at the end of the consultation so that the Learning for Life therapist can hand the child over to the Authorised Person before departing;

c. entering into and abiding by a Child Safe Risk Management Plan with Learning for Life;

d. in the event that any session (or part of) is recorded (whether audio or visual), respecting the privacy and confidentiality of the child and Learning for Life staff member and only disclosing the contents of the recording as is required and reasonable;

7. if their child undertakes therapy at Learning for Life’s office, ensuring that only an Authorised Person collects their child at the end of the consultation;

8. being a positive role model for children;

9. maintaining a safe environment for children;

10. treating children with respect and valuing their ideas and opinions;

11. contributing to a culture of child safety and taking all reasonable steps to protect children from abuse;

12. raising any concerns, including concerns about safety, as soon as possible with Learning for Life to ensure that they can be resolved efficiently; and

13. contacting the police (telephone 000) if a child is at immediate risk of abuse.

Without limiting the above, and with a view to ensuring Learning for Life’s commitment to a child safe environment, all parents and guardians of children involved in a program run by Learning for Life commit not to:

1. ignore or disregard any concerns, suspicions or disclosures of child abuse or harm of a vulnerable person;

2. shame, humiliate, oppress, exploit, belittle or degrade any child or vulnerable person;

3. unlawfully discriminate against any child or vulnerable person;

4. engage in any activity with a child or vulnerable person that is likely to physically or emotionally harm them;

5. initiate unnecessary physical contact with a child, other than their own child;

6. engage in open discussions about topics that a reasonable person would consider inappropriate or offensive in the presence of children (such as extreme violence, illicit drug use, sexualised references); or

7. use inappropriate (for example, violent, sexualised or discriminatory) language in the presence of children.