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Child protection in culture and heritage settings

How do you protect children and young people in your culture and heritage settings? Read this article to find out more.

As discussed in the previous article, many culture and heritage institutions in Aotearoa New Zealand fall under the requirements of the Children’s Act 2014. In this article we will look at how you can implement the required measures.

Do we need a Child Protection Policy?

The Act sets out that, “the following organisations must have child protection policies, review them every three years, and make them available on their websites: the Ministries of Education, Health, Justice, Social Development, Business, Innovation and Employment, Te Puni Kōkiri and New Zealand Police; district health boards (DHBs); schools, including private schools, and partnership schools (Kura Hourua).” (Child Protection Policies for Organisations). Any children’s services that are funded or contracted by these must also have Child Protection Policies in place and review them regularly.

Even if you don’t fall under the above criteria, as a culture and heritage institution, children are part of your audiences, so you should develop and implement such a policy to protect them.

What does a Child Protection Policy include?

Oranga Tamariki’s resource Safer organisations, safer children provides plenty of helpful information as you develop or review your own policy. It includes three examples of policies for different settings (small NGO, large health organisation, small ECE setting).
Please note that while the content is highly relevant, due to the date of publication (2015), you will need to update some information (e.g., Oranga Tamariki is still referred to as Child, Youth and Family).

What about safety checking of staff?

Culture and heritage organisations employ staff in a range of different roles. If you are contracted or funded by the government, your contract might specify what safety checking measures need to be in place at your organisation, specifically for children’s workers. You can check this definition of regulated service in the Children’s Act 2014. You can also use this flowchart to determine if any of your staff are children’s workers:

A flow chart to determine if a staff role is a children’s worker under the definition of the Children’s Act 2014. The flow chart starts with "Do they work in a regulated service and the work is paid or part of an education or vocational training course? If "no", "Not a children's worker". If "yes", it moves onto the next question. "Does the work involve regular or overnight contact with children?" If "no", "Not a children's worker". If "yes", it moves onto the next question. "Does the contact take place without the child's parent or guardian being there?" If "no", "Not a children's worker". If "yes", it leads to a final green box which says "They are a children's worker".

Originally published by the Ministry of Education, as on TKI [8 July 2022].

Your organisation might choose to police-vet some or all staff upon employment, and / or at regular intervals thereafter – check with your Human Resources team about your process.

Upskilling and Training

Child protection should be the responsibility of all adults in your organisation, and your child protection policy and processes should be part of induction. Depending on the size of your organisation, you might choose one or several staff to be specifically trained in child protection. If you have a designated person for child protection (usually a supervisor or manager; this can but does not have to be a person connected to your learning team) , they can champion child protection, share information with teams or all staff, make themselves available for questions and concerns. Ideally, all staff that can come in contact with visiting children and young people (basically all front-of-house staff), should feel confident that they know what to do when they observe matters that concern them for the safety of children and young people.

What to do when you are concerned

Children and young people could experience harm while they are in your setting, by staff or visitors, or they could exhibit behaviours that raise concerns about their safety. Educators usually have more contact with children than other staff, so they might be the first ones to have concerns.

If your organisation has chosen a designated person for child protection, they might be the first point of contact for other staff to express concern. A thorough Child Protection Policy will include guidance about how they will follow up and when they will report concerns to the authorities.

Further reading

TKI: Children’s Act 2014 for ELC providers
Oranga Tamariki: Child protection policies for organisations
MoE: Vulnerable Children Act 2014: A practical guide for Early Childhood Education Services, Ngā Kōhanga Reo, Playgroups, Schools and Kura – Child protection policies
Oranga Tamariki: Safety Checking

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