Lutheran Education Queensland recognises that protecting students from harm and the risk of harm is fundamental to maximising their personal and academic potential. We are proud of our long history of providing safe and nurturing learning environments for students in our care.
We expect students to show respect to staff and volunteers and to comply with safe practices. We also expect all employees to ensure that their behaviour towards, and relationships with, students reflect proper professional standards of care for students, and are not unlawful. Our schools will respond diligently to a report of suspected or actual harm, or the risk of harm to a student resulting from either within the school, or outside of the school.
Definition of harm
The Queensland Child Protection Act 1999 defines harm as ‘any detrimental effect of a significant nature on a child’s physical, psychological or emotional well-being’. It is immaterial how the harm is caused. Harm may be caused by:
- physical, psychological or emotional abuse or neglect
- sexual abuse or exploitation
- a single act, omission or circumstances
- a series or combination of acts, omissions or circumstances.
Protecting students from harm
All Lutheran Education Queensland schools have a comprehensive Student Protection Policy that covers the actions to be taken if a member of staff or a parent of a school becomes aware or reasonably suspects that harm has been inflicted on a student of the school by other staff, people outside of the school, or by other students.
If you become aware or reasonably suspect that harm has been caused to a student of a Lutheran Education Queensland school by a member of staff, someone outside the school, or by another student, you should report your concerns to the Principal, School/College Counsellor, Head of sub-school, or to any other member of staff at the school/college.
What will happen next?
If you report your concern to a member of staff other than the Principal, a member of staff will report it to the Principal immediately. Alternatively, if the subject of the complaint is the Principal, then the member of staff will report to the Chair of the School/College Council.
What will the Principal or Chair of the School/College Council do?
If the Principal or Chair of the School/College Council receives a report of harm or suspected harm to a student, and he/she becomes aware that the harm is related to sexual abuse, it will be reported to the police immediately. Alternatively, the report may be handed on to the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disabilities Services, if appropriate, or it may be dealt with internally using other policies and procedures if the matter does not require mandatory reporting to an outside body.
What happens about confidentiality?
Your report will be treated in a confidential manner and with respect. Knowledge of it will be limited to the Principal (where it does not relate to him/her) and those directly involved. The Chair of the School/College may also need to be informed. The school/college policy states the confidentiality between the school/college and parents will be respected as much as possible and any concerns raised by parents will not adversely affect their child/children.
Each person who has access to information regarding suspected or disclosed harm has an obligation to observe appropriate confidentiality. However, the school/college is unable to promise absolute confidentiality since the steps of the policy may require disclosing certain details involved in responding to the report, internally and externally. State authorities can require people to give evidence about actions under statutory obligations and to produce documents. You will be informed if the information you provided is to be passed on to a third party. Any action which needs to be taken under staff disciplinary procedures as a result of an allegation not requiring police intervention will be handled confidentially within the school/college.
How will a Lutheran Education Queensland school help my child?
The Principal will ensure that the following steps are undertaken to reduce the chance of harm occurring by ensuring that:
- each staff member understands and fulfils their obligations under the Student Protection Policy of the school/college and the procedures for reporting abuse
- there is an acceptable reference for each staff member from his or her previous employer
- each staff member and volunteer who has contact with children (and who is not excluded under the relevant legislation) has a current positive Suitability Notice (Blue Card) issued by the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian.
If the Principal receives a report of harm about your child, he/she will support the child by:
- responding rapidly and diligently to the report
- reassuring the student, offering continuous support and providing counselling if requested
- protecting the child’s confidentiality as much as possible.
What should I do if I require more information?
For more information about the protection of your child at a Lutheran Education Queensland school:
- refer to your school/college’s Student Protection Policy—parents and students can have access to this policy at any time
- make an appointment to discuss the policy with the Principal should you wish to clarify any matters.