Vulnerable People Policy

Purpose

The Australian Navigators is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment to all vulnerable people by ensuring Australian Navigators’ staff, associates and volunteers are screened and suitable to be engaged in the provision of services in work involving children and other vulnerable people.

This commitment is consistent with national standards to increase the stringency of background checking of people working and volunteering with vulnerable people. While anyone who conducted themselves in accordance with Scripture would treat vulnerable people and children well, the purpose of this policy is to outline the framework and responsibility structure implemented by the Australian Navigators to meet its obligations under the Working With Vulnerable People (WWVP) scheme.[1]

Vulnerable Person

A vulnerable person for the purposes of this policy is

  • a child or children (a person under the age of 18 years) or;
  • an individual aged 18 years and above who is or may be unable to take care of themselves, or is unable to protect themselves against harm or exploitation by reason of age, illness, trauma or disability, or any other reason.

Contact

Contact with a vulnerable person, for the purposes of this policy, is contact between a person and a vulnerable person as part of engaging in an Australian Navigators’ activity, and means (but is not limited to) contact that :

  • would reasonably be expected as a normal part of engaging in the activity; and
  • is not incidental to engaging in the activity; and
  • is 1 or more of the following:
    • physical contact, including engaging in the activity at the same place as the vulnerable person,
    • oral communication, whether face-to-face or by telephone;
    • written communication, including electronic communication or dealing with a record relating to the vulnerable person.

Employees and Specified Associates Registration Requirements

It is a pre-condition of employment with the Australian Navigators that a person has a current WWVP registration, or registration under the relevant legislation in the state or territory where he or she mainly engages in Australian Navigators’ activities. This requirement applies to all staff and specified associates unless an exemption applies as determined by the National Director (see below) from time to time.

It is the employee’s responsibility to ensure they hold WWVP registration at all times and renew it prior to expiry.

The National Director has responsibility for ensuring and monitoring compliance with relevant WWVP legislation by employees.

If an employee’s WWVP registration is amended, suspended, cancelled or surrendered, the employee must immediately notify the National Director who may suspend the employee immediately, with or without pay or notice, or terminate the employee’s contract.

Associates whose role regularly requires them to work with vulnerable people or who are directed by the National Director to do so, must comply with the same requirements as those detailed above for employees (‘specified associates’).

Children and Students

Children under 16 years of age do not require WWVP registration to participate in Australian Navigators’ activities.

Engagement with Vulnerable People

All Australian Navigators’ activities involving contact with vulnerable people for example, education and care services at Australian Navigator gatherings of any sort, counselling, bible studies or fellowship gatherings, transport (public or private), coaching and tuition, games or fun activities conducted by the Australia Navigators are only to be conducted and overseen by people who hold a valid WWVP registration. Any associates or other volunteers involved in contact with vulnerable people at an Australian Navigators’ event who do not have a valid WWVP must be supervised by a person holding a WWVP card at all times.

Additional requirements where activity involves vulnerable people who are children

In addition to holding a valid WWVP registration, any staff, associates or volunteers engaged by the Australian Navigators to conduct or lead on any activities involving contact with vulnerable people who are children must also undergo appropriate background checks and provide character references upon request, unless the volunteer is personally known to the activity organiser or leadership of the Australian Navigators. This requirement applies even when a volunteer is a parent participating in Australian Navigators’ activities where their own child is a participant.

Relevant state or other regulation

Employees and specified associates engaged with a vulnerable person at an Australian Navigators’ activity must also consider and comply with any state legislation where they are located. For example, in the ACT there is a requirement to carry your WWVP card with you at all times during the activity.

Contact outside Australian Navigators’ activities

Any staff, associate or volunteer engaged by the Australian Navigators to partake in an activity who does not have a valid WWVP registration must not contact a vulnerable person outside the activity unless the contact is agreed to and witnessed by the vulnerable person’s parent or guardian, if they are a child, or the carer or support person of a vulnerable adult. ‘Contact’ in this instance includes, but is not limited to:

  • oral communication, either face to face or by telephone
  • written communication including electronic communication or via social media sites
  • dealing with a record relating to a vulnerable person.

Exemptions to holding a WWVP registration for employees and specified associates

The National Director or another person as may be delegated from time to time by the Australian Navigators, may decide that a person is not required to hold a WWVP registration, subject to legislative requirements. Such decisions are discretionary in nature and may be made on a case-by-case basis.

Responsibility for ensuring and monitoring compliance

The National Director has the responsibility for ensuring and monitoring overall compliance with this policy; ensuring that appropriate systems are in place and appropriate records are maintained by the Australian Navigators; and for taking and recommending any disciplinary action or termination of employment.

City and local leadership teams have the responsibility for ensuring and monitoring compliance by employees, associates or volunteers engaged by their ministries in Australian Navigators’ activities involving contact with vulnerable people.

Training

Employees and specified associates must undertake relevant training as appropriate in relation to this policy and the WWVP scheme when directed by the National Director.

Exchange of information with other designated entities

In complying with the requirements of the WWVP scheme, the Australian Navigators will comply with the relevant privacy legislation, subject to reporting requirements and as otherwise prescribed by law.

Complaints

For complaints relating to this policy, people may submit a complaint via the Australian Navigators’ website at Complaint and Whistle Blowing page or by contacting their local Navigators Leader, City Leader or the National Director.

[1] The policy is based on the obligations under the legislation in the ACT, but is applicable Australia-wide. Staff and associates should also comply with any other requirements under their own state legislation.

 

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