Creating a Child Safe Organisation

Girl Guides Victoria (GGV) fosters a unique, Girl-Led environment that helps girls flourish in their personal and social development. From weekly Unit meetings and overnight camps, to exploratory activities, both in the city and the bush, GGV aims to be a safe, inclusive space where girls can be comfortable just being themselves. 

Girl Guides Victoria encourages a strong culture of child safety throughout the organisation through openness, awareness, and learning. This is crucial to GGV being able to deliver on our Mission: empowering girls and young women to grow into confident, self-respecting, responsible community members.

The Child Safe Training was rolled out by GGV in 2018. It helps volunteers working with children to recognise when a child may not be safe and act accordingly to the Girl Guides Victoria Child Safe Framework to help that child.

Unit Leader Tammy completed a face-to-face Child Safe Training in August 2018. As a volunteer since 1996, Tammy was excited to take part in the training. 

“I feel passionate about creating a child safe space for Guides because being in a space where Guides can be free to be themselves fosters positive thoughts, ideas, and experiences.” 

Tammy believes that “Girl Guides… must be 100 percent comfortable and feel supported in their environment, whether that is at Guides, school, home, or in their community. For some girls, their time at Guiding may be one of the few safe and consistent environments in which they engage.”  

According to Tammy, the training provided by Girl Guides Victoria better enabled her to respond to child safe issues, access assistance and resources, and help her to create an environment where “the girls are empowered to share, discuss and think about child safety in their world if needed.” 

Unit Leader Cathy agrees, “Girls of today have enough stress and pressures in life so if we can invest every effort to make girls feel safe and contented, they will learn and grow within themselves.

When we help girls become resilient by giving them life skills to deal with stress, we empower them for the future.”

Cathy recounts, “It was interesting to note when we filmed a PR film clip for Girl Guides Victoria last year, when one of my Guides was asked, unrehearsed, why she likes Guides, her response was ‘I feel safe.’ I felt with great satisfaction that I was fulfilling my leadership role in another way I hadn’t really considered before.” 

Girl Guides Victoria Assistant State Commissioner Star McBean has learnt, “through research, professional experience and as a Leader of girls, that when girls are in an environment where they feel respected, heard, and have a connection to adults and peers — in short ‘feel safe’ — they are able to relax and be themselves. 

When we hold a respectful space for them that is safe emotionally, mentally, and physically, they are able to learn, grow, and engage.”  

As an Assistant State Commissioner and also working in early childhood development, Star is passionate about creating a child safe environment: “a place for girls to explore being girls and achieve what they may not have considered possible.”  

“This allows them to be uniquely themselves, to think about larger things, other people, exude confidence or grow in confidence, to believe in themselves, and take manageable risks beyond what they think they can do. 

A child safe environment supports a shared understanding between adults as well as girls as to what is acceptable and makes respectful spaces for all involved. 

It focuses us on the needs of the girl, and encourages adults to be self-reflective in their leadership. Child safe spaces are important both as legislation and as a platform of great Guiding in which all our members benefit,” says Star. 

Maddie, a Guide from a Unit of girls aged 14-17 and State Committee Youth Member, says that being a part of a Child Safe Organisation means having a safe place where the Leaders care for your safety and well-being.

“It helps me to reach my potential as I know I have the support and security of Leaders without having to worry about my safety.” 

Guiding offers an opportunity for girls to acquire leadership skills, become self-reliant, enjoy the friendship of other women and girls, and to develop a sense of well-being and self-worth. 

The Girl Guides Victoria Child Safe Training is now online and will continue to be provided to all new and existing Adult Members and Volunteers across Victoria. 

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