Lock down 4.0
We find ourselves in lockdown once again, although we were very pleased to welcome back our Year 11 and Year 12 students on Friday. We revisit all the emotions that surfaced during the extended lockdowns last year: an appreciation for a slower pace of life and the extra time with family; apprehension regarding income and work; distress caused by the lack of face to face connection; anxiety about how long this lockdown could last; and when it might happen again. We sit with all that emerges, good and bad, and give ourselves permission to feel all that we are experiencing. In our quiet, we listen for the voice of God resonating in our hearts, we listen for the spirit that guides our actions and thoughts. If we need to we reach out to access the supports in place to manage the emotions that might debilitate and stop us doing what we want and need to do. I encourage you to reach out to the College if you need to, or if you are worried about your daughter for any reason. I have included the link to the wellbeing resources for families and students that I shared in my letter to you last Thursday.
Our teachers have been working to maintain and encourage motivation, connection and participation. From all accounts our students have settled into the routine of remote learning with ease, and while this is not the preferred mode of learning for all students, they have shown their resilience and adaptability once again in getting on with the circumstances as they are.
Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS) and Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS)
From 19 April this year, the College, along with all other schools in Victoria, has been required to work under two new information sharing schemes which allows for improved information sharing to support young people who may be at risk of harm. The Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS) enables authorised organisations and services (including schools) to share information to promote the wellbeing and safety of children. The Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS) enables authorised organisations and services (including schools) to share information to facilitate assessment and management of family violence risk to children and adults.
Schools operate under a raft of laws relevant to child wellbeing and safety obligations including the Child Safe Standards, Mandatory Reporting, Reportable Conduct, Duty of Care, Privacy Laws and Criminal Laws. These existing obligations continue to apply. The CISS and FVIS provide additional permissions to share relevant information. The College has been preparing for the implementation of these schemes since the latter part of 2020, and has provided training to staff to understand the impact of the reforms on our work. Importantly, a key principle underpinning these reforms is the work we do with parents and legal guardians in ensuring that our young people are safe. It is also important to understand that if an adult in the community forms a reasonable belief that the safety and/or wellbeing of a young person is at risk then they are mandated to report, and can face serious consequences if they fail to do so. As an approved information sharing entity (ISE), where the College believes a young person is at risk of harm, relevant information can be shared without the consent of parents and legal guardians if the reasons for sharing meet the relevant thresholds.
These reforms come as a response to several inquiries and commissions that have taken place over the last 10 years including the Betrayal of Trust Inquiry, The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Royal Commission into Family Violence, various Coroners Court of Victoria reports and CCYP Child Death Inquiries. At St Columba’s College we take the wellbeing and safety of our young people seriously and we welcome the reforms that support us to undertake this element of our work more effectively.
Strengthening and supporting improved outcomes for children and young people is the key objective in the implementation of the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework, which will guide information sharing under both CISS and FVISS wherever family violence is present. It is important for all parents and legal guardians to understand the structures that are in place to support flourishing and thriving families. Schools are one of those structures. I have also attached a flyer from Catholic Social Services Victoria that provides a list of further resources relevant to family violence should families need them.
At this time when women are fighting to change the narratives that have defined their lives, we make a commitment to supporting women and men, and our young people to strive for safe, happy and confident families.