How do the Child Safe Standards align to Quality Area 3 – physical environment?
The Office of the Children’s Guardian share their insights on how the Child Safe Standards align to Quality Area 3 (physical environment) and share advice for ensuring child safe practices at your service, with a particular focus on online safety.
27 September 2022
Quality Area 3 of the National Quality Standard (NQS) describes how early childhood education and care (ECEC) services keep children safe in physical environments, inside and out. The good news is, there is already some alignment between Quality Area 3 and the Child Safe Standards, including:
Child Safe Standard 2 relates to Element 3.1 (Design) of the NQS, where the appropriate design of the physical environment ensures good relationships can be facilitated between educators and children. Strong relationships, where children trust educators, empowers children to speak up if they ever feel unsafe or are harmed.
Child Safe Standard 8 relates to Element 3.1.1 (Fit for purpose), where the physical environment supports supervision. Lines of sight to educator and child interactions, as well as child-to-child interactions, should be clear. Good supervision practices when coupled with sound knowledge of your Child Safe Code of Conduct and reporting obligations (Child Safe Standard 6, 7 and 10) help to create a child safe environment where harm and abuse may be identified and reported.
Child Safe Standards 2 and 4 relate to Element 3.2.1 (Inclusive environment), where the focus is on an inclusive environment. The child safe perspective would focus on accessibility and inclusivity as a way of reducing the risk of harm and abuse. Children should feel welcome and culturally safe in the service.
Whilst digital technology is not explicitly referenced in Quality Area 3, if children are accessing digital devices whilst at your service, you should ensure the physical and online environments support appropriate use and supervision of children when they are online. While there are many benefits to online learning, there are also risks, which vary across the different service types and the way the devices are used.
To help you manage these risks, here are some questions below for you to consider in your service:
Are devices used appropriately and safely within the environment?
Is there adequate supervision when digital devices are used?
Are child safe practices in place to ensure appropriate access? i.e. use education apps only or add security or limitations on internet viewing.
What support is provided to children about online safety, and how do you communicate with families about your digital device practices?
Within OSHC services, do you have procedures around the children’s use of personal online devices? How is the use and posting of material managed at your service?
The eSafety Commissioner website has a great range of resources to educate children, families and educators on how to keep children safe online, including the following that are relevant for ECEC services:
eSafety checklist for early learning services (online safety for under 5s)
OSHC could use the eSafety Commissioner’s Toolkit for Schools, which includes checklists and resources to assess and manage online risks. There are also classroom resources, which could be used to educate children at OSHC about online risks in age-appropriate ways.
Other online considerations include:
how information is stored online and the security of apps used to communicate with families
how and when CCTV is used
monitoring any other online forums used such as WhatsApp groups.
If you have any further questions, please contact Rachel Norman at firstname.lastname@example.org