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Valuing Safe Communities

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  1. Valuing Safe Communities School training presentation Level 2 [2.5 hours] VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  2. Why VSC? • Incorporates Safe Place but replaces the Safe Place training in schools – Safe Place is the Lutheran Church of Australia’s response to sexual abuse and sexual harassment • In schools, most Safe Place matters covered by other compliance requirements • VSC suits schools’ needs VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  3. What is VSC? • A framework for safe and professional relationships in schools VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  4. Scope of VSC • Applies to workplace behaviour for adultsin schools • Applies to allemployees, paid workplace participants and volunteers • Applies to preschools, kindergartens, early learning centres, out of school hours care, vacation care, all schools, school boarding facilities VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  5. A framework for Lutheran schools What we do, how we do it and why we do it are described in A framework for Lutheran schools VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  6. Read the ethos column. Write a list of words that could describe the kinds of workplace relationships implied by the statements. VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  7. Lutheran school ethos • As central to their mission and ministry, Lutheran schools seek to nurture individuals who are aware of their humanity, open to the influence of the Holy Spirit and growing in and living according to a cohesive worldview while living in community and reflecting characteristics of God through core values, especially love, justice, compassion, forgiveness, service, humility, courage, hope, quality and appreciation Lifelong Qualities for Learners VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  8. Valuing Safe Communities: Policy statement Lutheran schools seek to be places of physical, social and psychological safety for all where caring, cooperative and respectful relationships contribute to secure and supportive communities that reflect the values of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and where there is a focus on love, justice, compassion, forgiveness, service, humility, courage, hope, quality, appreciation and restoration. VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  9. LEA Code of Ethics • The Lutheran Education Australia Staff Code of Ethics for safe and professional relationships provides a clear statement of principles and expectations for behaviour based on the values that Lutheran schools adhere to and promote. • It makes explicit the practices that are needed to build school communities that are safe for all and are characterised by the highest level of ethical and professional behaviour. VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

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  12. Unlawful discrimination and harassment VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  13. Valuing Safe Communities: Policy statements • Lutheran schools operate under both Law and Gospel. It is God’s intention that people work together to settle their differences and resolve issue on the basis of Biblical principles (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 6:1-11). Nevertheless the requirements of the law of the land must also be met (LCA Safe Place Policy) • Lutheran schools appreciate the contribution which work, as a gracious gift of God, makes to both the life of the worker and fellow workers, and value the gifts of those who act as employers and employees (BLEA, Industrial relations and the Lutheran school) VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  14. Unlawful Discrimination Discussion • What are the legal grounds for unlawful discrimination and harassment? • What is the difference between unlawful harassment and other harassment and bullying? VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  15. VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  16. Unlawful Discrimination Under federal and state legislation unlawful discrimination occurs when someone, or a group of people, is treated less favourably than another person or group because of their sex (including pregnancy or marital status), national or ethnic origin; age; disability; or any other attribute covered under human rights and equal opportunity legislation. VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  17. Unlawful discrimination Treating someone differently does not necessarily mean that unlawful discrimination has occurred. Legally: • The behaviour must be covered by an Act • There has to be a ‘loss of opportunity’ or ‘loss of reasonable comfort’ VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  18. Direct and indirect discrimination • Direct discrimination – treating people differently because of one of the ‘protected attributes’ (that is, those covered by legislation) • Indirect discrimination – adopting practices and procedures that appear neutral but can have an adverse effect on a person or group because of the inherent values of their particular group VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  19. Unlawful discrimination in a school Can occur in: • the job application process • recruiting and selecting staff • terms, conditions and benefits offered as part of employment, including access to professional development and promotion positions • termination of employment • development of student enrolment policies Activity: Brainstorm specific examples of unlawful discrimination that may occur in a school VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  20. Unlawful discrimination in a school Examples • Failing to employ or promote someone because of a disability, if the disability would not prevent them carrying out the requirements of the job • Treating a person unfairly because of a past disability • Not promoting a person because of their age • Teasing a co-worker about their sexuality or presumed sexuality • Preventing an employee who is about to go on maternity leave from undertaking professional development with the rest of the staff • Mimicking a colleague with an accent • Insisting that a Sikh student cut his hair and not wear a turban • A school policy of not letting people work part time(People with children or family responsibilities could be disadvantaged.) • A school, while fitted with lifts, has a set of six steps at the front entrance. Entry for those needing to use the lift is through the back entrance near the industrial bins. VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  21. Unlawful harassment Under federal and state legislation, unlawful harassment occurs when someone is made to feel intimidated, insulted or humiliated because of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin; sex; disability; sexual preference; or some other characteristic specified under anti-discrimination or human rights legislation. It can also happen if someone is working in a ‘hostile’ or intimidating environment. Activity: Brainstorm specific examples of unlawful harassment that may occur in a school VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  22. Unlawful harassment in a school Examples: • telling insulting jokes about particular racial groups • displaying offensive pictures or sending by email images and messages that are based on disability or race • making derogatory comments or taunts about someone's race or religion • asking intrusive questions about someone's personal life, including their sex life VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  23. Scenario 1 • Jack is 61. He has been teaching in the school for 37 years and has held various coordinator positions over the years. He has applied for two more senior positions recently – a house head role 2 months ago and head of faculty a year ago. He was unsuccessful in both instances. He is now making it known to all and sundry in the staff room that he believes that he has been discriminated against because of his age. He says he has mentored several younger people who have gone on to more senior roles, “teaching them everything they know”. What information would be needed to decide whether Jack’s claim is correct? VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  24. Scenario 2 Two teacher aides, Joe and Jenni, have been spending a significant amount of time together working on a project. As they get to know each other better, they increasingly engage in a lot of teasing, playful banter as well as discussions about their personal beliefs. For example, the war in Iraq and the differences between various religions are often topics of conversation. When Joe heatedly makes disparaging remarks about Muslims, however, Jenny feels increasingly uncomfortable with the conversation. When she tells Joe that the conversation has crossed the line, he gets defensive and says she just doesn't like to hear opinions with which she doesn't agree. Jenni tells one of the teachers who agrees with Joe, telling Jenni she can't suddenly decide a topic is offensive when she has been a willing participant to date. Is this correct? VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  25. Responsibility • Employees with management and supervisory responsibilities must take reasonable steps to identify, prevent and respond to incidents of discrimination, harassment and bullying to avoid both personal and school liabilities VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  26. Sexual Abuse and Harassment VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  27. The concern 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men by the time they reach the age of 18 have been sexually abused in some way 41 per cent of Australian women aged between 18 and 64 years and 14 per cent of men have experienced sexual harassment. How many is that within your work group? VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  28. Valuing Safe Communities: Policy statement Sexual abuse by people in positions of trust has a destructive impact on the lives of people. Sexual abuse is totally unacceptable. It is the responsibility of all people involved in work or service within schools to guard with great care the trust placed on them. They have an absolute responsibility to avoid all forms of sexual abuse and harassment. Claims of sexual abuse and harassment will be taken seriously and dealt with. VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  29. Small Group Discussion What do you understand by Sexual Harassment? What do you understand by Sexual Abuse? What do you consider are the differences? VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  30. What is Sexual Abuse/Harassment? Any unwelcome or inappropriate sexual advance or request for sexual favours which is coercive in nature, either in verbal or physical form Sexual harassment should be defined along the same lines as sexual abuse Abuse involves a wide range of behaviours which occurs along a continuum VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  31. Sexual harassment and abuse Discuss • Situations that can be considered examples of sexual harassment and abuse • Situations that are not examples of sexual harassment and abuse VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  32. Examples of sexual harassment • Suggestive remarks or actions (eg wolf whistles, catcalls, obscene gestures, telling jokes with sexual connotations, staring or leering) • Unwarranted, unsolicited and inappropriate touching (eg deliberately and unnecessarily brushing against another person’s body, unwelcome touching, hugging or kissing ) • Sexually explicit pictures, screen savers, posters, internet sites • Suggestive text messages, phone calls or emails • Unnecessary intrusion into personal matters (eg questions of a sexual nature or relating to a person’s private life) • Repeated requests to date someone when they have said no • Being influenced to look at or pose for pornographic photos • Sexual exhibitionism • Making sexual advances at a time of vulnerability VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  33. Determining sexual harassment • Sexual interaction, flirtation, attraction or friendship between adults which is invited, mutual, consensual or reciprocated is not sexual harassment • Sexual abuse will be largely defined by the perception of the person affected by another’s behaviour, irrespective of the actual intent. VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  34. Some factors affecting our perception …. Our attitudes of what constitutes abuse – where is the line? Our upbringing and perception of our parents’ behaviour Experiences we have had at the hands of influential people in our lives Is this abuse? Our views on … people’s rights and our responsibilities to protect them Our values VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  35. Personal response to touch Discussion: You’re in the staff room and have just received an award for excellence in your field. Other staff members wish to offer congratulations. Which of the following would you feel most comfortable in receiving in this circumstance? • Handshake • Open hug • Closed hug • Pat on the back • Pat on the arm or hand • No contact VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  36. Appropriate/Inappropriate touch Filters Good Intention Experience Choice Perception Relationships Expectations Personal History Past Experience Personal/Emotional situation Interest at the moment Feelings Physical Wellbeing Other VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  37. Appropriate touch • Discussion:How can we determine if touching someone is going to be OK? • Appropriate touch makes people feel affirmed, cared for, supported. • Inappropriate touch results in people feeling disregarded, unimportant, uncomfortable, worried, upset, threatened, alarmed. VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  38. Appropriate touch • Touch children/young people only when a genuine need occurs - accident, trauma, distress • Ask if it is OK to touch • Balance preventive and protective strategies with people’s needs. • Ensure that the touch is for the care/benefit of the other person, within a context of relationship, trust, time, communication and mutuality VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  39. Inappropriate touch • Touching is not appropriate when: • Consent is not given • The body language of the other person infers or dictates that they are uncomfortable • The intention is for self not other • It takes advantage of someone’s vulnerability, even if there is consent VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  40. Power in relationships • Physical characteristics • Gender, race, size • Knowledge & Experience • Age, intellect, life circumstances • Resources • Financial, psychological • POSITION • Social status, role, authority VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  41. Misuse of power • Power is misused by involving someone in sexual activity through: • Violation of role • Inappropriate use of authority • Taking advantage of vulnerability • Absence of meaningful consent VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  42. The power of positive influence • Be mindful of the power of your words • Be aware of non-verbal messages • Be private in a public setting • Be aware of the impact of your words and actions • Use touch appropriately VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  43. The impact of sexual abuse and harassment may be felt decades after the event or series of events Support and counselling can be of assistance to the healing process No issue is considered too small to talk to someone about Dealing with sexual abuse VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  44. Scenario 3 You are in a staff room where you are the only one of your gender. The others often swap suggestive jokes and make suggestive comments to each other. When you said something they accused you of being a spoil sport. You have had enough, you … VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  45. Workplace Bullying and Harassment VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  46. Valuing Safe Communities: Policy statement • Bullying and harassment are contrary to the ethos of Lutheran schools and are therefore absolutely unacceptable. Claims of bullying and harassment will be taken seriously and dealt with VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  47. Bullying and harassment Discuss: • What do you consider to be the meaning of bullying? • What do you consider to be harassment? • Is there a difference? VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  48. Bullying is a set of repeated, inappropriate, coercive behaviours that creates a risk to health and safety and/or causes chronic and cumulative detriment to the victim and work performance. Harassment is any type of repeated, unwelcome and unsolicited behaviour that can be reasonably expected to cause a person to feel threatened, intimidated, humiliated, offended or unable to cope with their work environment. Bullying and harassment VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  49. Bullying and harassment Activity: Brainstorm examples of bullying and harassment that may occur in a school environment VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009

  50. Workplace bullying and harassment may be (1): • Offensive behaviour • Gestures • Leaving offensive messages on email or phone • Personal effects or work equipment being removed or damaged • Making a person the brunt of practical jokes • Teasing • Offensive or insulting language • Repeatedly using language intended to ridicule, belittle, insult, humiliate • Abusing a person loudly, usually when others are present, especially harmful when in front of students • Derogatory and unwelcome comments about a person’s private life or physical appearance • Threats to professional status • Humiliation in front of colleagues or students • Intimidatory use of performance management procedures VSC_School training_Level 2_Dec 2009