Dental Care Professionals Child Safe Policy

1. Purpose

This policy was written to demonstrate that Dental Care Professionals is committed to maintaining an environment in which children are safe.

2. Context

This policy complies with our obligations under the Children and Young people (safety) Act 2017 including:

  • Chapter 8, Section 114 and 115 – certain organisations to ensure environment is safe for children and young people etc;
  • Chapter 5, Part 1 – Reporting of suspicion that child or young person may be at risk.

It also complies with the Child Safe Environments: Principles of Good Practice issued by the Chief Executive of the Department of Human Service (DHS). These principles are:

  1. Identify and analyse risk of harm
  2. Develop a clear and accessible child-safe policy
  3. Develop codes of conduct for adults and children
  4. Choose suitable employees and volunteers
  5. Support, train, supervise and enhance performance
  6. Empower and promote the participation of children in decision making and service development
  7. Report and respond appropriately to suspicions a child or young person are at risk (mandatory reporting)

3. Scope

This policy, from the date of endorsement, applies to all practice and partnership owners, staff, contractors and sub-contractors, students and volunteers.

4. Commitment to child safety

All children and young people who attend Dental Care Professionals have a right to be safe and to receive appropriate, high-quality treatment. We are committed to ensuring that those objectives are met.

5. Rights of parents and carers

All parents and carers have the right to verify that a practice owner or staff member has had an appropriate Working with Children Check (see Appendix 1) (NB. Legislatively there is no right to view a copy but can provide name and unique identifier of staff member).

6. Children's Participation

All staff of Dental Care Professionals encourages children and young people to express their views and to comment on matters that directly affect them or are important to them in other ways. We do not tolerate any discriminatory practices.

We value and respect the views of children and young people who access our services. We listen to and act on any expressions of concern from children and young people or their families or carers.

7. Recruitment Practices

Dental Care Professionals takes all reasonable steps to ensure that it engages appropriate people to work with children and young people. We employ a range of screening measures including Working With Children Checks issued by the Screening Unit, DHS. As required by the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 we will obtain from the person their full name, address, DOB and unique identifier and through DHS:

  1. verify a working with children check has been conducted in relation to the person within the preceding 5 years
  2. the person is not prohibited from working with children
  3. provide the screening unit, DHS the name, address, telephone number and email address of the business at which the person is to be employed, and
  4. the name and contact details of the person who verified the matters referred to in points (a) and (b) above.

We will apply best practice standards in the screening and recruitment of sub-contractors, employees or volunteers including on-the-job observation, written applications, face-to-face interviews and reference checks.

8. Code of Conduct

All principals of Dental Care Professionals are aware of, and must abide by, the Australian Dental Association (South Australian Branch) Code of Ethics. In addition they are registered with the Dental Board of Australia and therefore bound by the Code of Conduct set out by the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency.

All staff of Dental Care Professionals are made aware of, and agree to abide by, the standards set out in the above codes of conduct insofar as they relate to the provision of services to children.

9. Support for Employees and Volunteers

Dental care Professionals seeks to attract and retain the best employees and volunteers. We provide support and supervision so that people feel valued, respected and fairly treated. We ensure that employees who work with children have ongoing supervision, support and training so that their performance promotes the establishment and maintenance of a child safe environment.

10. Reporting and Responding to Suspected Harm or Risk of Harm

All staff understand their obligation to notify the Child Abuse Report Line on 13 14 78 as soon as practicable if they have a reasonable suspicion that a child or young person is or may be at risk of harm by a staff member, family member or by anybody else. At times we provide opportunities for staff to attend information sessions about these mandatory reporting obligations. We also ensure that staff have access to relevant information resources.

Staff must also report to management any reasonable suspicion that a child or young person is or may be at risk of harm from another staff member.

Appropriate confidentiality and procedural fairness provisions apply to any notification of this kind. This requirement applies even if they are not mandated notifiers under the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017.

11. Strategies to Minimise Risk

Dental Care Professionals takes steps to minimise the risks to children and young people due to the actions or omissions of staff, contractors or other people within our practice. We review our risks regularly to address any new or emerging risks to maintain a safe environment for children.

Strategies we have implemented to minimise and control risks to children and young people include ensuring:

  • high risk situations are addressed in our Code of Conduct
  • all staff are required to abide by this practice’s child safe policy
  • staff are aware of and are responsive to the particular needs and vulnerabilities of children and young people (such as age, language barriers, developmental capabilities, disability, mental health, trauma or abuse)
  • all patients and caregivers are made aware that children entering our practice must be supervised at all times
  • staff provide clear age-appropriate or developmentally-appropriate explanations to children and young people about the consultation and allow for questions prior to examination
  • Dental Care Professionals responds to any concerns that children, or their families or carers, raise with us quickly and fairly.

Evaluation of these strategies and the development of additional strategies to minimise and control risks to children and young people occur as part of our ongoing risk management process.

The dentists who work in Dental Care Professionals are registered with the Dental Board of Australia and therefore bound by the Code of Conduct set out by the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency. That Code states, in part:
Caring for children and young people brings additional responsibilities for practitioners. Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect is legislated in all states and territories in Australia. Practitioners have a responsibility to be aware of the mandatory reporting requirements in their state or territory.

Good practice involves:

  1. placing the interests and well-being of the child or young person first
  2. considering the young person’s capacity for decision-making and consent; in general, where a practitioner judges that a person is of a sufficient age and of sufficient mental and emotional capacity to give consent to a service, then that person should be able to request and provide informed consent to receive services without the consent of a parent, guardian or other legal representative
  3. ensuring that, when communicating with a child or young person, practitioners
    • treat the child or young person with respect and listen to his or her views
    • encourage questions and answer those questions to the best of the practitioner’s ability
    • provide information in a way that a child or young person can understand
    • recognise the role of parents and, when appropriate, encourage the child or young person to involve his or her parents in decisions about care and
    • remain alert to children and young people who may be at risk and notify appropriate child protection authorities as required by law. This may include where a parent is refusing treatment for his or her child or young person and this decision may not be in the best interests of the child or young person.

12. Harassment/Bullying

Dental Care Professionals opposes all forms of harassment, discrimination and bullying. We take this issue seriously and encourage anyone who believes that there has been harassment, discrimination or bullying within the practice to raise this issue with management.

13. Communication

Dental Care Professionals will ensure that all relevant team members are given a copy of the policy and/or have spent time reading the policy. We also ask employees to sign a written statement indicating that they have read the policy and will abide by it. We retain a copy of all signed statements.

14. Related Policies and Procedures

Dental Board of Australia Code of Conduct. This states in part:

Good practice in relation to risk management involves –

  • being aware of the principles of open disclosure and a non-punitive approach to incident management; a useful reference is the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care’s National Open Disclosure Standard
  • participating in systems of quality assurance and improvement
  • participating in systems for surveillance and monitoring of adverse events and ‘near misses’, including reporting such events to the relevant authority
  • if a practitioner has management responsibilities, making sure that systems are in place for raising concerns about risks to patients or clients
  • working in practice and within systems to reduce error and improve the safety of patients or clients and supporting colleagues who raise concerns about the safety of patients or clients, and
  • taking all reasonable steps to address the issue if there is reason to think that the safety of patients or clients may be compromised.

15. Lodging a Compliance Statement

Practices must lodge a compliance statement setting out their child-safe environment policies and procedures with the Department of Human Services. Policies and procedures must be reviewed at least once in every 5-year period. Where an organisation varies or substitutes a child safe environments policy or procedure, they are required to re-lodge a compliance statement. The ADASA has guidelines about how to complete this statement on its website, as well as a Working With Children Check (WWCC). More information can be found at www.adasa.asn.au or www.education.sa.gov.au.

Approved by

Dr. George Atsikbasis

Date

12/12/2019

Review Date

12/12/2024

APPENDIX 1

Child Protection Guidelines for Dental Care Professionals

Caring for children and young people brings additional responsibilities for practitioners and staff of this Practice.

As well as the obligations under Dental Board of Australia registration, all staff of this practice are responsible for promoting the safety and well-being of children and young people by:

  • ensuring the safety and welfare of the child or young person is paramount at all times
  • treating all children and young people with dignity, equality and respect
  • following the child safe policy at all times
  • listening and responding appropriately to the views and concerns of children and young people within the practice
  • taking all reasonable steps to ensure the safety and protection of children and young people
  • where appropriate, ensuring that a chaperone or other suitable adult is present when consulting with a child or young person
  • ensuring children and young people understand their rights and explaining to the child in age-appropriate language what they can expect during the consultation
  • responding quickly, fairly and transparently to any serious complaints made by a child, young person or their parent/guardian
  • Notifying the Child Abuse Report Line on 13 14 78 as soon as practicable if they have suspicion that a child or young person is or may be at risk.

Staff will not:

  • take part in any unnecessary physical contact with a child or young person
  • discriminate against any child or young person because of age, sex, cultural background, religion, vulnerability or sexuality.