Permission to Proceed
The 'glue' that holds the ChildSafe system together is a process we have named 'Permission to Proceed'. It's important to understand this concept in order to grasp the way we have addressed issues of accountability and responsibility.
Within a ChildSafe organisation, every program (or event) involving children or young people requires Permission to Proceed. To gain permission, the Team Leader of the program prepares a plan that provides to their Coordinator:
- A record of who is part of the team for this program. These people must each have been appointed via the organisation's appointment process. ChildSafe requires this to include the relevant state/territory "Working with Children" check or equivalent (Blue Card, Prohibited Persons Declaration etc), referee checking and a suitable application form.
- The safety plan for the program, using the template provided. This includes details of when and where the program operates, emergency contacts and an overall risk management plan.
- Information about specific activities occuring within the program, where the Coordinator would like further details and a specific risk management plan for that activity.
- A list of participants, in cases where this is known such as residential camping programs.
- A program of events, detailing times and dates.
The Team Leader submits these details to their Coordinator, who assesses whether the planned program is suitable to operate under the banner of the organisation. To be suitable, it must be assessed as sufficiently safe, with sufficient emergency plans in place, and lying within the constraints of the organisation's insurance cover.
The Coordinator can either grant Permission to Proceed, hold Permission pending some adjustments to the plan, or refuse Permission. The organisation mandates Permission to Proceed as a requirement for all Team Leaders prior to commencing activity with children or young people.
Why 'Permission to Proceed'?
- An organisation can only take responsibility for programs and events that it knows about. Many community organisations are not aware of all the activities that occur 'in their name'.
- For people in leadership roles within an organisation, responsibility for an untoward event will be to some extent theirs. The buck stops with them. These people therefore have a right to know what is planned, and to approve it taking place.
- For Team Leaders, it is a great comfort to know that your program has been checked out by the organisation and approved. You should then be assured that in the event of a difficulty arising you will receive the support and backing of the organisation, provided you have followed the processes you put in your Permission to Proceed materials.
- The process often helps clarify when an organisation is taking responsibility for a program. There are "grey area" situations where it is unclear to participants, Team Members, the Team Leader or the organisation whether the activity that is occurring is the organisation's reponsibility. When an organisation decides whether or not the Permission to Proceed process applies, it is making a determination about whether the program is 'theirs' or not.
Dr Thrill Says... "Grab your mates and bring them along to help out. Who needs the paperwork?"
Disclaimer: Dr Thrill knows nothing about safety and care. Ignore the man if he attempts to give you advice.