If your organisation has switched to online delivery of education, you need to consider carefully if video conferencing with students is necessary, or whether interacting via audio or chat functions are suitable for the specific purpose. For child protection reasons, it is recommended that students under the age of 18 should only use audio/ chat functions when the class activity is being recorded. Another option may be for the teacher to display their video but disable student cameras and only allow chat.
Any video or audio recording of students via an online learning or collaboration platform does raise a range of issues relating to compliance with relevant privacy (e.g. obtaining informed consent) and security (e.g. in relation to file transmission and storage) requirements and this should be reflected in your policies and processes.
We recommend discussing this issue with your organisational leadership to ascertain if a child safe policy, social media policy or code of conduct already exists that addresses your concern. There may also be legal implications for which you would need to seek independent legal advice.
Although your organisations deals mainly with young adults, if you do not have a child safe policy, we recommend that you look at the National Office of Child Safety website. They provide a nationally consistent approach to cultivating organisational cultures and practices that foster child safety and wellbeing across all sectors in Australia.
The Office of the National Children’s Commissioner and can be accessed on the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Child Safe Organisations website:
- Introductory Self-Assessment Tool for Organisations
- Guide for Parents and Carers
- Example Code of Conduct
- Charter of Commitment
- Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy template
- Checklist for Online Safety (developed in partnership with the Office of the eSafety Commissioner)
- 11 free professional learning modules on the National Principles, including one introductory module which gives an overview of the development and content of the National Principles, and separate modules on each of the ten Principles.
We recommend using these resources in combination with our eSafety Checklist for developing effective online safety policies and procedures as you revisit an existing police or develop a new policy.
If you are using devices to interact with young people, ensure young people know the staff member they can check in with if they have any issues. Staff should make notes of any interactions, as would happen in a classroom. For more information check out eSafety’s guidelines for social media, video sharing and online collaboration and tips for staff using social media.
As young people may be interacting more online for learning and socially, regardless of their comfort level or proficiency, the need to set expectations about online behaviour is greater than usual. It is recommended that the technology usage policy supports clear online behaviour expectations. Ensure young people have clear reporting pathways if something negative happens online.
The eSafety Commissioner’s most recent blog, COVID-19: an online safety kit for parents and carers, also has links to good resources. So too does the COVID-19: keeping schools and learning safe online blog which includes tips on using social media and online collaboration platforms.
eSafety also offers free teacher professional learning webinars for educators. Titled ‘Online risks and protective factors’, the sessions will be held in Terms 2 and 3, starting on 8 April. New content will include how to address unwanted contact, cyberbullying and inappropriate content. All participants will receive a certificate of completion.