Standard Eight

Safe physical and online environments

Physical and online environments promote safety and contain appropriate safeguards to minimise the opportunity for children to be harmed

8.1 Personnel identify and mitigate risks in online and physical environment without compromising a child’s right to privacy, access to information, social connections and learning opportunities.

8.1.1 The entity’s safeguarding risk management plan [refer to Indicator 1.5.1] addresses physical and online risks including risks arising from child-to-child and adult-to-child interactions, and the nature of physical spaces.

8.1.2 The entity’s policies require the use of safe online applications for children to learn, communicate and seek help.

8.1.3 Personnel are proactive in identifying and mitigating physical and online risks to children.

8.1.4 A policy is clearly documented and implemented that ensures physical environments where one-to-one interactions between an adult and a child are conducted either in an open space or line of sight of another adult. This includes ministries/services such as counselling, one-to-one tuition, the sacrament of reconciliation, coaching, spiritual direction and mentoring. Where the sacrament of reconciliation is celebrated using the first form of the Rite of Penance, that is, the Rite of Reconciliation of Individual Penitents, the policy may provide for this to occur in a chapel or other space within a church that is set apart for this purpose, so long as any physical contact between the penitent and the cleric is precluded.

8.2 The online environment is used in accordance with the Church entity’s Code of Conduct and safeguarding policies and procedures.

8.2.1 Personnel access and use online environments in line with the entity’s Code of Conduct and relevant communication protocols.

8.2.2 The entity routinely monitors the online environment, reporting and responding to breaches of its Code of Conduct or safeguarding policies in accordance with the entity’s disciplinary, complaint handling or other relevant processes.

8.3 Risk management plans [refer to Indicator 1.5.1] consider risks posed by the entity’s settings, activities and physical environments.

8.3.1 The entity assesses and mitigates safeguarding risks in the physical environments under its control and/or management, including buildings, structures, open spaces, grounds, homes of religious and clergy, and arrangements for live-in carers/caretakers.

8.3.2 Where an entity becomes aware that a person (other than personnel of that entity) attending any of its services or activities (including sacramental and liturgical celebrations) is the subject of a substantiated complaint of child abuse, or has been convicted of an offence relating to child sexual abuse, the entity has in place and implements a process for assessing and managing the risks posed to children by the person’s ongoing involvement in the service or activity.

8.4 Entities that contract facilities and services to and from third parties have procurement policies that ensure safeguarding of children.

8.4.1 The entity considers the risks posed to children arising from any third parties engaged by the entity and conducts sufficient due diligence to ensure that the third party has appropriate child safeguarding policies and practices in place.

8.4.2 The entity has conducted sufficient due diligence on all third parties who use the entity’s facilities to ensure child safeguarding policies and practices are in place.

Find definitions of key terms used throughout the Standards in our glossary