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Our commitment to child safety (2023)

CSIRO is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all children and young people involved in our activities and programs. We have zero tolerance for child abuse, neglect and exploitation. We strive to create an environment where all children and young people are safe, feel valued, and have their rights upheld. Although working with children and young people is not our core function, it is critical to CSIRO’s vision to create a better future for Australia and inspire future scientists. Child safety and wellbeing are essential in our organisational leadership, governance, and culture. We acknowledge our people's ongoing commitment, support, and cooperation to protect and safeguard children and young people. Our commitment is embodied in our 'Be child safe' message.

CSIRO’s interactions with children and young people

CSIRO is a large and diverse organisation with 8,100 employees and affiliates working across 49 sites in Australia and two overseas locations. For approximately 40 years, CSIRO Education and Outreach (CEdO) has been developing and delivering high-quality science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) programs to teachers, students, and the wider community. CSIRO staff and affiliates engage with over 200,000 children and young people every year, both in-person and virtually. This interaction takes place through a range of activities, including laboratory and facility tours, school visits, outreach and work experience programs, scientific research trials, community events, as well as social media and publication interactions.

Annual risk assessment

The CSIRO Child Safe Office has undertaken a review of child-related risks to ensure that the risks to children and young people are identified, and mitigation strategies are appropriate to control any risks.

Our risk assessment is informed by our compliance with legislation, policies, and procedures. We gather feedback from business units and conduct site visits to ensure we develop a strong child safety awareness and culture. Our services and programs are designed to incorporate children's feedback and experiences. We recruit a workforce that is appropriately trained and qualified and we support our people to understand and follow child safety obligations. We also ensure prompt and effective identification, reporting and management of any child-related incidents.

The overall risk rating for CSIRO has been assessed as high. This rating is based on the possibility of non-compliance with requirements, policies and controls aimed at managing and mitigating risks. CSIRO continues to progress our maturity in relation to compliance and given there is still work to be done the higher risk rating assessment is appropriate.  This will be addressed as part of CSIRO’s ongoing improvement plan for 2023-24.

CSIRO’s child safety initiatives

During the 2022-23 reporting period, we built on our child safe activities through:

2022-23 Child Safe Focus Areas CCSF Req
Engagement with stakeholders to promote the Child Safe Office, exchange information, discuss challenges, and gather feedback for education and resources. 1,2,3
Improvements to policy at CSIRO, including employee screening, security measures, and internet usage. We now include a commitment to child safety in all position descriptions. 1,2,3
Development of an e-learning module (in conjunction with Child Wise) which will be available in late 2023, to raise awareness and clarify expectations that support a child safe culture and mitigate risk. 2,3
Initiatives raising awareness about the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework and other requirements, including promoting child safety as everyone’s responsibility, National Child Protection Week, and organising site visits to our locations throughout Australia. 1, 2, 3
Workshops and information sessions educating our staff about the Child Safe Office, legislation compliance, National Principles, identifying signs of harm, and reporting obligations. 2,3
Providing advice and education relating to planning child-related activities (face-to-face and virtual), and review of Child Safety Activity Risk Assessments for events/activities involving children/young people. 1,2,3
Increasing awareness of requirements when obtaining, managing, storing, and using images and data relating to children and young people. 2,3
Development of a Child Safety Allies network across CSIRO to raise awareness of and compliance with our child safety obligations and promote a child safe culture. 2, 3
Establishment of a CSIRO Education and Outreach Working Group focusing on a consistent approach to child safety practices and compliance for all CSIRO education programs. 2, 3
Developing communications specifically for children about how we keep them safe whilst taking part in our activities, including providing information about free support services for children. 3
Working with business units, enterprise groups and external partners to ensure compliance with Working with Children/Vulnerable People Check requirements. 2

Child safety is an ongoing process. At CSIRO, we're committed to improvement and compliance. Our Child Safe Office will prioritise the following in the next 12 months:

2023-24 Child Safe Focus Areas CCSF Req
External implementation audit to assess and analyse the scope of our key risks and gaps and develop a road map, including recommendations, to increase compliance and further develop as a child safe organisation. 1,2,3
Development of a fit-for-purpose case management system and centralised Working with Children/Vulnerable People Register 1,2,3
Launch of a CSIRO wide network of Child Safety Allies to advocate our child safe practices and culture throughout CSIRO, raising awareness of our requirements. 2, 3
Ongoing training to increase knowledge of reporting requirements, recognising threats, abuse or harm to children and young people, trauma-informed practices, legislation, cultural considerations, and safety. 1,2,3
Development of practice tools for children and young people (such as informed consent) enabling their participation in decisions that affect them. 2,3
Consulting with children, young people, and key stakeholders to implement cultural safety competencies within our Child Safe Policy and related guidance. 1,3
Conducting forums and work towards the development of children’s advisory groups to provide opportunities for children and young people to participate in decisions and programs which affect them during their interactions within CSIRO. 1,3
Continuing awareness of requirements when obtaining, managing, storing, and using images and data relating to children and young people. 2,3
Ongoing education about the requirement for Child Safety Activity Risk Assessments for all events/activities involving children and young people. 2, 3
Developing e-safety guidelines for our online interactions with children. 2, 3
Working with our Human Research Ethics team to ensure child safety is considered in research proposals and approvals. 1, 2, 3

Commonwealth Child Safe Framework Compliance

Requirement One:

Undertake risk assessments annually in relation to activities of the entity, to identify the level of responsibility for, and contact with, children, evaluate risks to child safety and put in place appropriate strategies to manage identified risks

CSIRO is fully compliant: The annual risk assessment was undertaken to identify existing and emerging risks to children and ensure mitigation strategies are appropriate and aligned with best practices. As we mature as a child safe organisation, we continue to identify areas that require further work to ensure compliance.

Requirement Two:

Establish and maintain a system of training and compliance, to make staff aware of and compliant with the Framework and relevant legislation, including Working with Children Checks / Working with Vulnerable People Checks and mandatory reporting requirements

CSIRO is working towards compliance: Our work on this requirement is ongoing. CSIRO has established policies and procedures, and the Child Safe Office provides training regarding compliance, risk assessments, Working with Children/Vulnerable People Checks, reporting and other CSIRO and legislative requirements. We are working towards a centralised system for the management of our Working with Children/Vulnerable People Checks and we aim to launch our child safety e-Learning module in late 2023, which will be mandatory for our staff, affiliates and volunteers who work with children. Concerns about child safety or the conduct of our staff, affiliates and volunteers, whilst interacting with children, can be reported by our staff or members of the public to the Child Safe Officer or through Conduct Complaints. All reports will be thoroughly reviewed and investigated as required.

Requirement Three:

Adopt and implement the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

CSIRO is working towards compliance: CSIRO is committed to the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (National Principles) and developing a child safe culture. The CSIRO Board and leadership are committed to building and maintaining, through good governance, a culture of child safety to lower the risk of harm to children. We have demonstrated this by establishing our Child Safe Office and implementing a Child Safe policy, Child Safe procedure and guiding documentation to raise awareness, understanding and compliance. Our e-learning module (developed with Child Wise and yet to be introduced) will raise awareness and develop an understanding of the requirements for compliance with the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework and National Principles.

Requirement Four:

Publish an annual statement of compliance with the Framework, including an overview of the entity’s child safety risk assessment (conducted under Requirement One)

CSIRO is fully compliant: CSIRO has published the 2022-23 Annual Compliance Statement and is committed to regularly reviewing and monitoring our compliance with the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework.

We invite comments on our annual compliance statement to support accountability and transparency as CSIRO continues to mature as a Child Safe Organisation to

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