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Create a child safe environment

A child-safe organisation has a commitment to protect children from physical, sexual, emotional and psychological harm and from neglect.

This is more than simply minimising the risk or danger to children. It is about building an environment that is both child-safe and child-friendly. An environment where children can feel respected, valued and encouraged to reach their full potential.

This commitment is a part of the organisation's culture, reinforced by policies and procedures, and is communicated and supported by all members.

You have created a child-safe organisation when your organisation recognises its moral and legal responsibilities to ensure that the children involved are protected and it provides a safe and positive environment for them.

What must your organisation do?

All sport and recreation organisations that provide services to children 17 and under must have lodged a statement with the Department for Education and Child Development to confirm they are meeting the obligations of a child safe environment.

This is an obligation under the Children's Protection Act 1993.

Many state sporting and recreation organisations have done this on behalf of their affiliated clubs. Clubs who are unsure of whether they are covered by their governing body should contact them directly.

Further information regarding this can be found at www.decd.sa.gov.au/child-protection/child-safe-environments

Under the Act every organisation/club must:

  • develop a risk management plan addressing the safety of children with respect to other people within the organisation
  • have a child safe policy or a member protection policy  which addresses the child safe obligations
  • have guidelines and procedures that support the policy
  • have codes of conduct with respect to children
  • understand their relevant history assessment obligations
  • consider clear recruitment procedures for staff and volunteers eg. Referee checks, qualification checks if applicable
  • provide staff and volunteers with information or training around child safe environments, and provide support in their roles
  • encourage the participation of children in decision making (let them have a say or provide feedback)
  • ensure that all staff and volunteers are aware of their mandated notification obligations

State Sporting and Recreational Organisations in schools: Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) training requirements.

If your State sporting or recreational organisation is providing services to students in public schools, you need to be aware of their policy for third party providers. Depending on whether you are employed directly by the school, or your organisation is providing regular sport or recreational sessions, or just one-off presentations, the DECD policy requires Responding to Abuse and Neglect – Education and Care (RAN – EC) training in many of these situations.  Independent schools also have similar requirements. A fact sheet regarding this can be viewed here:

DECD Mandatory Responding to Abuse and Neglect - Education and Care (PDF, 247 KB)

Latest information for Sole Traders such as private coaches and parents of children that access these services

If you own a private business and you are a sole trader or a person in a partnership providing services to children you need to be aware of changes from April 11 2015 that have been made to the Children's Protection Act 1993. A fact sheet regarding this is available at www.childprotection.sa.gov.au/sites/g/files/net916/f/cse_sole_traders.pdf

Parents of children that access the services of a private provider must also be aware of their rights to sight information regarding criminal history, if any, of the person who is working with their child/ren.

Overview of legislative change effective 22 October 2018

From 22 October 2018 some of the requirements for sport and active recreation organisations to create and maintain a child safe environment and the mandated notifying provision will be removed from the Children’s Protection Act 1993. A summary of the changes under the new legislation, the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017, can be found here (PDF, 353 KB).

PLEASE NOTE:  There are no changes to legislation regarding relevant history assessments as at 22 October 2018.  Sections 8B, 8BA and 8D of the Children’s Protection Act 1993 continue to apply.  Recreation and sport organisations must continue to adhere to current requirements.

What is a Child Safe Officer?

The Child Safe Officer (CSO) is a person who can deliver advice and awareness within their organisation or club around developing a child safe environment

What does a child safe officer do?

The training provided by ORS assists the child safe officer to:

  • understand the importance for organisations to adopt appropriate screening processes for members working with young children and young people and the requirement for criminal history assessments
  • understand how and why child protection needs to be included in an organisation's /group's Member Protection Policy (MPP), or for a separate Child Protection Policy to be implemented if they do not have a MPP
  • understand the definitions and indicators of child abuse and neglect
  • acquire knowledge and understanding of the requirement under the Children's Protection Act 1993 of the legal responsibilities of staff and volunteers working with children.
  • have a broad knowledge of the Child Abuse Report Line processes and procedures.

The child safe officer may work with the club to develop procedures specific to that club to assist with minimising risk to children, provide education to coaches, administrators and club members, promote the policies and procedures and provide advice if required.

Child Safe Officer Training

This course is an evening 3 hour face to face training held at various locations around Adelaide and regional areas. Prior to attending this training you must complete the online training in Child Protection and Harassment and Discrimination on www.playbytherules.net.au

Upcoming child safe training

14 AugustKidman Parkhttp://ors.sa.gov.au/events_courses?a=481517 
10 SeptemberKidman Parkhttp://ors.sa.gov.au/events_courses?a=481521 
10 OctoberKidman Parkhttp://ors.sa.gov.au/events_courses?a=481533

Resources and Links to help you

Keeping Children safe in recreation and sport booklets (PDF, 2787 KB)

Our Club Supports Kids poster (PDF, 491 KB)

Club PowerPoint Presentation for internal club education (PPT, 2695 KB)

Guidelines for Mandated notifiers and information for organisations

Codes of conduct for junior sport template (DOCX, 83 KB)

Managing allegations of child abuse (PDF, 225 KB)

Play by the Rules provides:

Online Training in Child protection and Harassment and Discrimination which is recommended for all involved. Coaches and Team Managers in particular should complete this and be required to present the certificate to the club for recording.

resources including coach guidelines, chaperone information, junior team selection policy template and more.

Relevant History Assessments

All staff and volunteers who occupy a prescribed position (as set out under section 8B (8) of the South Australian Children's Protection Act 1993) are required to undergo a relevant history assessment once every three years unless an exemption applies.


Organisations Member Protection Policy, Child Safe Policy or procedures should outline the process for meeting this obligation and the exemptions approved by the organisation.

The Office for Recreation and Sport understands that there is some confusion throughout our sector regarding current obligations for screening. The complete implementation of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 from 22 October 2018 will not change relevant history assessment requirements.  The current options available under the Children’s Protection Act 1993 are explained below:

Procedure for conducting relevant history assessments

There are 2 options for meeting the obligation for relevant history assessments. Organisations should check with their governing body as to the process they require for meeting this requirement.

National Police Certificates or Department for Communities and Social Inclusion (DCSI)/Department of Human Services (DHS) child related employment screenings which have been obtained for another role but are still valid (less than 3 years old) may be accepted.

Option 1

An assessment of a National Police Check (NPC) from South Australia Police will be required for all persons taking on a role in a prescribed position prior to their appointment and then at three yearly intervals.

For many volunteers the cost for this application will be covered under the Volunteer Organisation Authorisation Number (VOAN) through the governing body or State Association.

The NPC application form is available from https://www.police.sa.gov.au/services-and-events/apply-for-a-police-record-check and can be filled in online by the applicant, printed and the 100 point proof of identity check completed at the police station or with a Justice of the Peace. Check with your organisation to clarify the procedure required if the VOAN applies.

On receipt of the NPC the applicant must present the original letter for viewing, assessment and recording to the nominated person at either their club or association according to the policy of the organisation. This may be posted to the organisation and they must return it to the applicant within 3 months. It must not be copied or retained by the organisation.

Where a person has no disclosable criminal history, the assessment is successfully completed and no further action in respect to an assessment is required.

Where an individual does have a criminal history, the organisation must assess this information in accordance with Standard 5 of the Standards for dealing with information about a person’s criminal history as part of a relevant history assessment  -  https://www.education.sa.gov.au/child-protection/child-safe-environments/additional-resources-creating-child-safe-environments

Option 2

Department of Human Services Screening Unit conducts assessments for child related employment for persons taking on a role in a prescribed position prior to their appointment and then at three yearly intervals.

Some organisations may have a policy position that only accepts this option as it is a higher level of assessment and therefore provides greater protection for children.

The VOAN Scheme does not apply for this screening and therefore is a cost which will need to be negotiated between the club and applicant.

The screening process needs to be started by the organisation requiring the screening, and is completed by the individual applicant.  Details of the application process are available from https://screening.sa.gov.au/apply

The Government announced in the September 2018 State budget an initiative to provide child related employment screening to volunteers for free.  This initiative will commence 1 November 2018.

Anticipated legislative changes to relevant history assessment requirements

The Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 has passed through Parliament.  This Act has not commenced.  Regulations to inform the operation of this Act are being re-drafted following community consultation which ended 6 April 2018.

When this Act commences National Police Certificates will no longer be acceptable as evidence indicating the potential of harm to children.  All persons undertaking child related work will be required to undergo a DHS child related employment screening.

More information is available here (PDF, 359 KB).

If your organisation would like further clarification of this information please contact participation@sa.gov.au or phone 1300 714 990.