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The Y WA secures highest possible rating by an independent body governing safety for children

The Y WA secures highest possible rating by an independent body governing safety for children
January 17, 2023

The Y WA has set the standard for Safeguarding Children across Australia following an independent audit undertaken by the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF), into the Y WA’s Safeguarding Children And Young People Policy.

The Y WA has been awarded the highest overall assessment of ‘Excellent’, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to safeguarding children and young people. This is the highest possible rating by an independent body that governs safety for children, and the Y WA was the first of the Ys across Australia to be assessed under a new review framework.

The audit results are being shared publicly to give parents and carers assurance that the Y is one of the safest places for children and young people.

Y WA Chief Executive Dr Tim McDonald notes “at the Y we believe in the power of inspired young people. For young people to be inspired, we know they need to feel safe and be safe.

“The Y WA considers any form of child/young person abuse, inclusive of emotional, physical, sexual abuse or neglect, as intolerable under any circumstances and that the protection, supervision and safety of children and young people is paramount.”

An important aspect of creating a culture where children and young people’s well-being is safeguarded has been the development of programs and services which advocate for children and young people to air their concerns.

For example, the Y East Cannington Early Learning Centre used Child Protection Week to educate 3–5- year-olds in their Kindy program with an activity called ‘My Network’. Children like Harlie were asked to create a piece of art reflecting what she would do if she felt unsafe, and who she would tell.

Educator Sarah Mony shares “for this activity the children glued a picture of a person onto some paper and coloured it in. They were then encouraged to draw a line from the hands of the person up to the four circles above, naming the four people they would tell if someone hurt them or if they were in trouble.

“Safeguarding is embedded in all our practices as well as teaching children about child protection and safety. We also teach them it is alright to say no if someone wants to give us a hug when we don’t one.”

Another crucial aspect is ensuring high staff recruitment standards and that all staff understand the process for reporting any concerns. Every employee undergoes annual safeguarding training and before employment must have a WWCC, Police Clearance and undergo an online safeguarding training course.

The Y Case Worker Kim Pinkerton offers one on one support to youth aged between 12-25 and advises “we often get significant disclosures about adverse situations in these young people’s lives, so knowing exactly how to assess the risk, manage the situation and what steps to take next, allows me to get the best possible outcome for them.

“It’s our policy to treat every scenario with the same level of seriousness. We often end up in complex situations so being able to rely on policies we have in place is invaluable. I know of several young people who use our services because they know it’s a safe space and if they choose to share something with us – it will be taken seriously.”

Dr McDonald adds “safeguarding our children is entrenched in everything we do. Every meeting between Executives and Senior Leaders has safeguarding on the agenda. It is inherent in our DNA and these results clearly demonstrate that we are holding ourselves to a very high standard – and we are meeting those expectations.”

In the last year, the Y WA has worked with approximately 497,200 youth and children through their varying services including Early Learning Centres, Before and After School Care programs, Vacation Care, Health and Wellness facilities and Youth, Leisure and Community services.

Following WA’s audit, all other Ys across the country will undergo a similar audit.

For more information on The Y go to  https://ymca.org.au

Image top: A safeguarding activity with kindy kids from East Cannington Early Learning Centre –Harlie and her artwork with Educator Sarah Mony; image above: The Y Case Worker in Belmont, Kim Pinkerton has experience with youth and safeguarding.

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