A child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law
applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.
(Convention on the Rights of the Child, United Nations, Article 1)
Child abuse is an act by parents, caregivers or any other person which endangers a child or young person’s physical or emotional health or development. Child abuse is not usually a simple incident, but may take place over time. (DHS, Victoria, 1999)
Sexual abuse occurs when an adult or someone physically stronger, bigger and/or older than the child uses power or authority over the child to involve the child in sexual activity. Physical force is sometimes involved. Contact offences include touching and fondling through to sexual penetration. Non-contact offences include verbal sexual harassment, indecent exposure, ‘peeping’ and exposure to pornography.
Harm is defined as being an injury or other detrimental effect of a significant nature to the child’s well-being. The harm to a child may be physical, psychological, or emotional in nature. Harm may be the result of physical, psychological or emotional abuse, or neglect of a child, or the result of sexual abuse or exploitation, but is not limited to that caused by abuse or neglect. Harm may also be the result of self – harming behaviour on the part of the child, e.g. suicidal behaviour, anorexia, or other self - destructive behaviour etc.
A Child in Need of Protection:
A child is ‘in need of protection’ if the child has suffered harm, is suffering harm or is at
unacceptable risk of suffering harm, and does not have a parent or caretaker able and willing to protect him or her from the harm.
This definition of harm includes situations where the risk of harm is caused by the child’s own actions or someone outside the home. It includes circumstances where, despite a parent’s conscientious efforts and through no neglect or action on their part, the child remains exposed to risk of harm. It also includes circumstances where the parent does not have the capacity to care for the child, despite a desire to do so. It also includes circumstances where a child has no parent or family available to them.
The Dominican Sisters of Western Australia is a Pontifical Congregation in its own right, hereafter referred to as “The Dominican Sisters”
The Prioress refers to the elected Leader of the Congregation
The Child Protection Officer refers to the designated Sister, employee or volunteer who will take on the role of Child Protection as outline in this policy
The Department of Child Protection and Family Services is the WA State Government department which deals with child protection matters and allegations and complaints, hereafter referred to as “CPFS”
The Catholic Professional Standards (CPSL) refers to the independent body funded the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference which deals with complaints of abuse by any Church personnel.