Child Safety Policy

Print Friendly and PDFPrint Friendly


This Policy outlines James Cook University’s (JCU) commitment to promoting and protecting the wellbeing and safety of children connected to the University community, and to ensure that Students, Staff and Affiliates understand the University’s required accountabilities and procedures if they believe a child’s safety is at risk.


This Policy applies to all members of the Council, Staff, Students, and Affiliates of James Cook University (hereinafter described as JCU, or the University) while engaged in conduct or activities undertaken as part of their study, research, work, living and socialising which is associated with JCU. The scope of the policy includes conduct or activities that occur at or in connection with (but is not limited to):

  • the University’s Australian campuses and study centres;
  • managed Student accommodation (including University owned or operated accommodation, and privately owned or operated accommodation such as homestay, and regardless as to whether the accommodation is within or outside a University campus);
  • sporting and recreational clubs and facilities to the extent that they fall within the University Community;
  • managed digital environments (including the use of information technology and other University-operated digital platforms); and
  • conduct and activities  related to the University’s business that are not conducted on University’s premises, including (but not limited to):
    • field trips
    • placements and internships
    • conferences
    • Student camps
    • inter-University events.

The University acknowledges that while performing duties as a Staff member, Affiliate, or Student while undertaking official duties for the University, that person may witness behaviour that constitutes a threat to child safety at locations outside of the University and/or by an individual not connected with the University. The University will liaise with the responsible authority to ensure proper procedures are followed and will provide support services to the person witnessing the behaviour.

Aspects of this Policy do not constrain or apply, nor are intended to interfere with normal family relationships. Family violence, child abuse and neglect (as defined below) are not considered normal family relationships.


Except as otherwise specified in this Policy, the meaning of terms used are as per the Policy Glossary:


Is a person (other than a Staff member or Student, including Higher Degree by Research Candidates) who is affiliated with JCU by letter of appointment or invitation to work, research or study at the University for a particular activity and typically for a prescribed timeframe and who is bound to comply with the University’s policies during that period (for example, visiting scholars and adjunct appointees).

Blue Card

Card issued by the Queensland Public Safety Business Agency (PSBA) once it has carried out a blue card check to see if a person is eligible to work in the areas of child-related work covered by the Act. If a person is eligible, they are issued a positive notice letter and a blue card.

Blue Card Check (or Working with Children Check)

National check undertaken by the PSBA to determine if a person is eligible to work in the areas of child-related work covered by the Act.


A parent, guardian or an adult person engaged by the parent or guardian who is responsible for a child or children.


In accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ‘child’ means every human being under the age of 18 unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier. For the purposes of this Policy, a child is a person under the age of 18.

Child abuse

Includes sexual abuse, physical abuse or violence, serious psychological or emotional abuse and serious neglect.

Child exploitation

One or more of the following:

  • committing or coercing another person to commit an act or acts   of abuse against a child
  • possessing, controlling, producing, distributing, obtaining or transmitting   child exploitation material
  • committing or coercing another person to commit an act or acts   of grooming or online grooming
  • using a minor for profit, labour, sexual gratification, or some other   personal or financial advantage

Child Safety Adviser

A member of staff designated with responsibility for receiving and recording reports of child abuse concerns from students, staff members and affiliates, providing referrals for external reporting (as appropriate) and support, and notifying relevant University staff.

Direct Contact

Physical contact, face-to-face contact, contact by post or other written communication, contact by telephone or other oral communication, or contact by email or other electronic communication

Disqualifying offence

An offence is categorised as a ‘disqualifying offence’ under the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 if it is an offence of counselling, procuring, committing or attempting to commit as detailed in the tables here:


Harm, to a child, is any detrimental effect of a significant nature on the child’s physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing caused by physical, psychological or emotional abuse or neglect, or sexual abuse or exploitation. Harm can be caused by a single act, omission or circumstance; or a series or combination of acts, omissions or circumstances.

Family violence

Violence (either actual or threatened) which occurs within a family including physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial or social abuse. Family violence is a criminal offence and can be liable to prosecution.


Neglect in relation to a child includes failure to provide an adequate standard of nutrition, medical care, clothing, shelter or supervision to the extent where their health or development is significantly impaired or placed at serious risk.

Police information

About a person, means the following:

a.  The person’s criminal history

b.  Investigative information about the person

c.  Information as to whether the person is or has been:

  1. A relevant disqualified person
  2. The subject of an application for a disqualification order
  3. Named as the respondent to an application for an offender prohibition order.

Physical abuse

Consists of any non-accidental form of injury or serious physical harm inflicted on a child. It may result from physical punishment or physically aggressive treatment and/or neglect that exposes a child to physical injury or significant harm. Physically abusive behaviour includes: shoving, hitting, slapping, shaking, throwing, punching, kicking, biting, burning, strangling and poisoning.

Psychological/emotional abuse

Refers to a parent or guardian/caregiver’s inappropriate verbal or symbolic acts toward a child, or a pattern of failure over time to provide a child with adequate non-physical nurture and emotional availability. Psychological or emotional abuse occurs when a child is repeatedly rejected, isolated, frightened by threats or witnesses family violence. It also includes hostility, derogatory remarks or persistent coldness from a person, to the extent where the child is disturbed or their emotional development is at serious risk of being impaired.

Queensland Public Safety Business Agency (PSBA)

The agency established to provide support services and perform other functions in relation to Queensland government public safety entities.

Regulated employment

Categories of employment regulated by the Child Protection Act. This does not include all work where there is contact with children.

Relevant Person

A person who is any of the following:

  1. a doctor
  2. a registered nurse
  3. a teacher
  4. a person engaged to perform a child advocate function under the Public Guardian Act 2014
  5. an early childhood education and care professional.

Reportable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion that the child

  1. has suffered, is suffering, or is at unacceptable risk of suffering, significant harm caused by physical or sexual abuse
  2. may not have a parent or guardian/carer able and willing to protect the child from the harm.

Sexual abuse

A child is sexually abused when any person uses authority or power over a child to engage in sexual activity.  It includes sexual offences and involves a wide range of sexual activity, including exposure to pornography.


A person who is acting on a voluntary basis for the University (irrespective if the person receives out of pocket expenses).


1.   Commitment

1.1     JCU acknowledges that children are part of the University community as students, visitors and through the University’s community engagement and school program activities. Children may also be involved in research projects with parent/guardian consent and in accordance with Human Research Ethics approvals.

1.2     JCU is committed to child safety and promoting children’s best interests. This includes the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, international children, culturally and linguistically diverse children and children with a disability/special needs.

1.3     JCU will not tolerate any form of child exploitation or abuse. This approach is universally adopted across all of JCU campuses.  JCU will actively respond to any child exploitation or abuse allegations.

1.4     As a child safe organisation, JCU consciously and systematically:

  • creates an environment where children’s safety and wellbeing is the centre of thought, values and actions;
  • places emphasis on genuine engagement with and valuing of children;
  • creates conditions that reduce the likelihood of harm to children and young people;
  • creates conditions that increase the likelihood of identifying any harm; and
  • responds to any concerns, disclosures, allegations or suspicions of harm.

1.5     JCU’s engagement with children may occur as part of education, research and engagement activities both on campus, within Australia or overseas. Where JCU engages a third party provider to deliver services (particularly overseas), an assessment of that providers approach to child safety to ensure that it is consistent with JCU’s expectations needs to be made.

1.6     The University also has obligations under the ESOS legislation and the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students regarding child welfare and protections for under 18 students (Standard 5). In particular, there may be requirements for welfare support to under 18 international students when their parent, legal custodian or eligible relative is no longer able to provide these arrangements or in times of critical incidents or emergencies that may disrupt welfare arrangements without warning.

2.   Professional Behaviours

2.1     JCU Staff and Students who work or have contact with children as part of their teaching or research are expected to adhere to the following behaviours:

  • treat all children with respect
  • encouraging children or young people to ‘have a say’ and participate in relevant activities
  • listening and appropriately responding to the views and concerns of children and young people
  • being mindful that children and young people are not easily identified when integrated into a university environment
  • be open and transparent and keeping other adults informed of University activities that you do with children and young people
  • respecting the privacy of adults and young people and only disclosing information to people who have a need to know
  • comply with all relevant Australian State or Federal legislation and in-country legislation, including labour laws in relation to child labour
  • immediately report concerns or allegations of child exploitation and abuse and policy noncompliance in accordance with appropriate procedures
  • immediately disclose all charges, convictions and other outcomes of an offence that relates to child exploitation and abuse, including those under traditional law, which occurred before or occurs during JCU teaching or research activity
  • be aware of behaviour and avoid actions or behaviours that could be perceived by others as child exploitation and abuse.

2.2        Unacceptable behaviours include but are not limited to:

  • language or behaviour towards children that is inappropriate, harassing, abusive, sexually provocative, demeaning or culturally inappropriate
  • engaging children under the age of 16 in any form of sexual activity
  • inviting unaccompanied children into private residences, unless they are at immediate risk of injury or in physical danger
  • sharing proximate sleeping quarters unless absolutely necessary, in which case the supervisor’s permission must be obtained, and ensuring that another adult is present (noting that this does not apply to an individual’s own children)
  • using any computers, mobile phones, video cameras, cameras or social media to exploit or harass children, or access child exploitation material through any medium
  • exchanging personal contact details, for example, phone numbers, social networking sites or email addresses with children or young people or their families unless required to by specific work related circumstances
  • using physical punishment on children
  • hiring children for domestic or other labour which is inappropriate given their age or developmental stage; which interferes with their time available for education and recreational activities; or which places them at significant risk of injury

2.3     These unacceptable behaviours are not intended to interfere where there is a family relationship with the child.

3.   Working with Children Checks (Blue Cards)

3.1     The Working with Children Check is a screening process that assesses your suitability to work with children based on known disciplinary and police information. People who work in education and care services, or who provide other services in an environment where education and care is being provided, must hold a blue card or an exemption card to comply with the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 and the Education and Care Services Act 2013.

3.2     JCU requires staff, students and affiliates whose roles involve direct contact with children as part of their duties to obtain and maintain a Working with Children Check.  These are listed Schedule A of the Working with Children Check (Blue Card) Procedure. In particular:

3.2.1   Students. All students undertaking a Professional Experience/Field Education Placement/Clinical Placement within Queensland are required by law to hold a valid Blue Card, issued by Blue Card Services Queensland.

3.2.2   Staff. University teaching Staff are exempt from requiring a Blue Card even if some of their students are under the age of 18. The University does prescribe particular roles requiring Working with Children Cards (see 3.2.4) to meet the requirements of the Education and Care Services Act 2013 where education and care services are provided for at least:

  • eight consecutive days, or
  • once a week, each week, over four weeks, or
  • once a fortnight, each fortnight, over eight weeks, or
  • once a month, each month, over six months

3.2.3   Where the University requires a staff member to hold a Working with Children Card, the requirement will be contained as an inherent requirement in the position description and will be the responsibility of the staff member to obtain and maintain. Prospective employees are not to commence work at JCU until the Blue Card has been issued.

3.2.4   Positions at JCU requiring a Blue Card include but are not limited to:

  • Members of JCU Council (given the University has a Child Care Centre as a controlled entity);
  • Staff who may be appointed as directors of JCU Early Learning Centres (a controlled entity of JCU);
  • School (as in primary and secondary) outreach and engagement staff within the Education Division and Marketing Directorate
  • Diploma of Higher Education Staff
  • Indigenous Education and Research Centre Staff
  • International Student Support Staff
  • University Halls Staff employed by JCU
  • Staff and Directors of JCU College (a controlled entity of JCU)

3.2.5    JCU also requires as part of its Security Services Contract that Security Staff have a Blue Card.

3.3       Persons who are employed or otherwise engaged by the University who hold a Blue Card and are issued with a Disqualification Order issued by a court or who have been charged with a disqualifying offence are subject to management action detailed in the Working with Children Check (Blue Card) Procedure.

4.   Employment of Children

4.1     As per legislation, school-aged children can only be employed outside of school hours and with the permission of their parent/guardian. The minimum age for employment as per the Child Employment Regulation 2016 is 13.  Whilst the University has the capacity to employ-school aged children, this should be an exceptional circumstance.

5.   Responsibilities and Accountabilities

5.1     Every member of the University Community, has obligations under this Policy with the following positions having further obligations:

5.1.1   Chief of Staff: ensuring critical incident and emergency response obligations meet the welfare requirements for students under 18 years, as well as reporting obligations to external bodies as required by laws and regulations.

5.1.2   Director Human Resources: procedural guidance on recruitment and development of Positons Descriptions of staff who may require Blue Cards, and the employment of children.

5.1.3   Manager, International Compliance: Ensuring compliance with Standard 5: Younger Overseas Students of National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Oversees Students as they relate welfare and support arrangements.

5.1.4   Child Safety Adviser: a staff member nominated in each Division responsible for receiving and recording reports of child abuse concerns from students, staff members and affiliates, providing referrals for external reporting (as appropriate), and notifying relevant University staff. A Child Safety Adviser may be appointed for a prescribed period where children are present or employed for a JCU activity.

5.1.5   Staff members: maintenance of Blue Cards where an inherent requirement of employment. Notification to management of any matter which may result in a disqualifying offence or issuance of a Disqualification Order.

5.1.6   Students: obtain and maintain Blue Cards as required as part of their education or research activities.

6.   Reporting

6.1     It is mandatory for all staff, affiliates and students to report immediately any suspected or alleged case of child exploitation, abuse or policy non-compliance by anyone within scope of the Policy in connection with University activities. The process for reporting is outlined in the Child Safety and Child Abuse Response and Reporting Procedure.

6.2     Staff must report any behaviour that is suspected of being child exploitation or abuse (including possession of child exploitation material) or policy non-compliance by:

  • a JCU staff member, including visiting scholars and adjuncts;
  • personnel of a JCU funded contractor or consultant;
  • any volunteers working with, or for JCU including Students;
  • any report made by anyone relating to child exploitation and abuse or policy non-compliance by JCU Staff, Students or JCU funded partners;
  • a DFAT funded Scholarship or Fellowship awardee including Australia Awards program recipients;
  • a DFAT grant recipient, including under the Direct Aid Program (DAP) and Public Diplomacy programs; and
  • any Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or Australian company who may be working in partnership or collaboration with JCU.

6.3     The University may have other reporting obligations in accordance with the Child Protection Act, and other contracts national codes, guidelines or standards to which it may subscribe from time to time (see also Related Documents and Legislation).

6.4     Where an individual has already reported, but becomes aware of additional information, the individual must also report that information.

7.   Confidentiality

7.1     Confidentiality is required for any matter that may give rise to misconduct allegations as a result of a breach of this Policy. Information and records about Child Safety and Child Abuse are only divulged to those with direct involvement (either internally or externally, e.g. Police) with the following exceptions:

  • where there is risk of harm to a person or persons, it may be necessary to breach confidentiality;
  • where the matter is subject to legal proceedings or other action which require the presentation of JCU-held records by way of subpoena or similar; or
  • where there is a clear public interest or obligation to share information (such as a duty to disclose information to a professional accreditation board, or a duty to report under legislation).

8.   Record keeping

8.1.    All records and notes produced and documents considered as part of child safety reporting must be stored on an appropriate, confidential University file. The file must be created and stored in line with University policy.

8.2     In accordance with the Queensland State Archivist,  any records that are relevant to, or may become relevant to, an allegation of child sexual abuse, must be retained in accordance with the ‘Proactive Protection of Vulnerable Persons – Relevant Records’ and the ‘Evidence of Interactions and Contact with Vulnerable Persons’ sections of the General Retention and Disposal Schedule (GRDS).

Related policy instruments

Child Safety and Child Abuse Response and Reporting procedure

Welfare and Support Arrangements for under 18 International Students Procedure

Working with Children Check (Blue Card) Procedure

Bullying, Discrimination and Harassment Complaint Procedure for Staff and Affiliates

Code of Conduct

Student Code of Conduct

Student General Misconduct Procedures

Academic Misconduct Procedures

Related documents and legislation

AHRC National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

Child Employment Regulation 2016

Child Protection Act (Qld) 1999

DFAT Child Protection Policy 2017

National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018Standard 5: Younger Overseas Students

National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) - Updated 2018, Chapter 4.2: Children and Young People

Public Records Act (Qld) 2002

Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018


NOTE: Printed copies of this policy are uncontrolled, and currency can only be assured at the time of printing.

Approval Details

Policy Domain

Corporate Governance

Policy Sub-domainCulture

Policy Custodian

Vice Chancellor

Approval Authority


Date for next Major Review


Revision History

Version no.

Approval date

Approved by

Implementation date


Policy Author

21-126/05/2021Vice Chancellor30/08/2021Minor amendment to record keeping requirements in line with instruction issued by the Queensland State Archivist.Chief of Staff





Policy established.

Chief of Staff

Keywordschild, children, child protection,  child safety, blue card, working with children, child safety services, exploitation, abuse
Contact personChief of Staff