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Being Safe at Scouts and Venturers

 

 

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, always call 000

For information on reporting child abuse, harm, or neglect, please scroll down

Joeys and Cubs, please click here

Parents, guardians, carers, Leaders, Rovers, and other adult members of the community, please click here

 

Trigger warning: the articles below discuss child abuse and assault. You can find links to support services and helplines here or at the bottom of this page.

 

Scouts and Venturers should be safe for you, your friends, your family, your Leaders, and anyone else who happens to be around. It should also be a welcoming place for everyone, regardless of where you’re from, what languages you speak, whether you have a disability, what gender you identify as, or your sexuality.

All adult members of Scouting are required to do a few things before we even let them register – if you’re a Venturer about to turn 18, you may have to do some of these things soon too – and then a few other things once they’ve signed up. They include:

· Holding a Working With Children Check

· Getting a Police Check (if they’re going to be wearing a Leader’s uniform)

· Completing Child Safe Training (and lots of other training)

· Agreeing to the Adults in Scouting Code of Conduct (LINK)

We make all adults in Scouting do this in order to help keep you and all other members of our organisation safe from abuse of any sort.

 

You can find the following information below:

· What is child abuse?

· What do I do if I’m being abused?

· Who can I talk to?

· What happens to people that abuse others in Scouting?

· Scouting Online

· Sex, Venturers and Rovers


What is child abuse?

Child abuse includes a number of things that someone does to a child or young person (that is, anyone under the age of 18). Usually we talk about adults abusing children/ young people, but it can also be other children/ young people. It will usually make the person being abused feel scared, upset, uncomfortable, or bad. Abusive behaviour includes:

Physical abuse

· Hitting

· Kicking

· Pushing

· Punching

· Any other physical acts that threaten to, or do, hurt someone


Emotional or psychological abuse

· Taunting

· Threatening

· Calling names

· Saying mean or nasty things

· Discriminating

· Humiliating

· Isolating

· Rejecting


Sexual abuse

· Fondling/ touching someone inappropriately  - this might be someone touching you under your clothing, or on parts of your body that you don’t them (or they shouldn’t be) touching

· Making you have sex with someone – whether it’s themselves or someone else

· Making you do sexual things

· Taking photos of you without some or all of your clothes

· Making you look at pornography

· Making you watch them have sex or do sexual things


Neglect

· Stopping you from getting water or food when you need it

· Stopping you from getting medication or medical help when you need it

· Not assisting you to be warm, dry, and sheltered

· Not providing appropriate supervision or guidance


Cultural, racial and religious abuse

· Refusing to acknowledge or appreciate different needs that you may have because of your culture or religion

· Discriminating against you on the basis of your culture, religion or race

· Being negative about your race, religion or culture

· Not stopping others from negative about your race, religion or culture

 

What do I do if I’m being abused?

If you are being abused – whether by someone at Scouts, a teacher, a family member or friend, or someone else,, you have every right to get help. If you can, the first thing you should try to do is talk to a different adult to the one that is abusing you, that you feel safe talking to and who you think will help you – this might be a parent, a teacher, or a Leader.

They should listen to everything you say and believe you – for this reason, you should never make up what someone has done to you.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to another adult, you can always talk to the Kids Helpline, who you can contact by phone – 1800 55 1800 – or by email or private message at their webpage.

If the abuse is by an adult at Scouts or Venturers, you should always report them to us. The easiest way to do that is by clicking here and filling in the form as well as you can. You can also call us on 1800 870 772, or email us on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . We will then investigate the incident(s). Depending on what the person has done, and other circumstances, we may be required by law to report the incident(s) to Victoria Police or the Department of Health and Human Services.


If the person is found to have abused you, we will terminate their membership of Scouts Victoria, which means that they can no longer be a leader or hold any other role in Scouting.

If the abuse you have or are experiencing is not related to Scouts, you can contact Victoria Police yourself, or talk to the Kids Helpline about your other options. If you have a leader at Scouts or Venturers that you trust, they will be able to also talk to you about your options.

Remember, it is not your fault that you are being abused, and it is not your job to stop it. If you an adult know it is happening, it is their job to get you help to stop it from happening.

 

What happens to people that abuse others in Scouts?

Any adult that breaks the Code of Conduct for Adults in Scouting will have their role in Scouting reviewed. At a minimum, they may be required to undergo further training or suspended. At most, their membership may be terminated – meaning they may no longer be a member of Scouts Victoria.

All adults who join Scouts Victoria have agreed to abide by certain rules and regulations. Youth members are not responsible for the actions of adults who break these rules.

Scouting Online

One of the great things about Scouting is that we’re a worldwide movement, with over 40 million Scouts around the world. It’s great to meet as many Scouts from as many different countries as you can, to learn about how different people and different countries Scout differently. However, just because someone you meet online tells you that they’re a Scout, doesn’t mean that you should ignore normal internet safety principles.

The best way to get to know other Scouts from around the world is to get involved with the Scouts Australia Pen Pal programme – you can register there to be put in touch with another Scout who’s a similar age to you from somewhere else around the world, and if you’re lucky, you might even be able to meet in person one day. By organising a pen pal through us, we can ensure that the person you’re talking to is a Scout and is who they say they are.

Other places you can safely talk to other Scouts from around the world include through the World Organisation of the Scouting Movement’s (WOSM) webpage, as well as through their annual activity JOTA-JOTI (Jamboree on the Air – Jamboree on the Internet).

Regardless of how you contact other Scouts, however, you should always follow some basic  principles.

5 Quick Tips (from Bravehearts):

Remember:

 

  1. Private stuff needs protection
  2. You can only really know someone if you know them face to face
  3. What you share will always be there
  4. Not everyone online is who they say they are
  5. If something doesn’t feel right, tell a trusted adult

 

You can also find more information about being safe online at the Bravehearts webpage.

If you ever see a webpage online with content that you think is illegal or offensive, you can report it to the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner.

Finally, if you or someone you know is being abused, bullied or harassed by someone online, it’s just the same as being abused, bullied or harassed in person. Follow the instructions above for what you can do.

You can find the Scouts Victoria Social Media policy and guidelines here.

 

LGBTIQ+


Scouting is open to everyone, regardless of their gender or sexuality.

Gender and sexuality can be confusing, both as a subject matter, and even more so if you’re questioning where you fit in.

The initialism LGBTIQ+ can also be a bit confusing if you’ve not come across it before. In case you’re not sure, we’ll run through it all in a moment, but first it’s important to know about the following three words:

 

Sex – in this context, it describes what set of biological features a person has, ie a person with breasts, a uterus and a vagina is biologically female, while a person with a penis and testicles is biologically male. A small number of people are born with rare genetic conditions that mean that they have a combination of these features, and these people are often described as intersex.

Gender – this describes what people feel. Most people who are born biologically female also feel female, and identify as such. Most people who are born biologically male also feel male, and identify as such. But some people don’t feel like their gender matches their sex. This means that that they may choose to identify as a different gender to their biological sex. Intersex people may choose to identify as male, female, or neither, often described as ‘other’ or ‘x’.

Sexuality – a person’s sexuality describes who they are attracted to sexually or romantically, and whether that person is of the same gender as them, a different gender, or either.

 

Now for the initialism LGBTIQ+:

 

Lesbian – a woman who is sexually or romantically interested in other women, as opposed to men. Also known as homosexual.

Gay – being sexually or romantically interested in people of the same gender as you, as opposed to people of the opposite gender. Also known as being homosexual. The opposite to homosexuality is heterosexuality, where someone is interested in someone of the opposite gender to themselves.

Bisexual – someone who is sexually or romantically interested in people of either gender, regardless of their own gender.

Transgender – someone who identifies as a different gender to their biological sex. The opposite to this is cisgender, where someone identifies as the same gender as their biological sex.

Intersex – a person whose biological sex is neither male nor female.

Questioning – a person who is unclear on their gender or sexuality.

Queer – a term used to describe anyone that doesn’t fit traditional gender or sexuality roles. It is worth remember, though, that this term has been used in the past as an offensive word for LBGTIQ+ people, and some people in the community are yet to accept is a positive term, while others may use it in a negative way.

+ - the plus sign is to indicate that there are many other identities that consider themselves part of this community.

TL;DR? How about a video instead (click on the image to follow the link):


No one is to be bullied, abused, neglected, or discriminated against for any reason in Scouting, and that includes their gender identification or sexuality. If you feel that this is happening to you, you need to talk to someone – a leader, a parent, a friend, or a helpline (check out the support services below). If the problem isn’t solved, or you can’t find anyone else to talk to, the Scouts Victoria reporting hotline can assist you, on 1800 870 772.

We’re currently working on putting more resources together for young people and their leaders who are coming out or facing ongoing challenges associated with their gender identity or sexuality. In the meantime, check out The Scout Association UK’s page on this area for more information that might be able to help you.

Sex, Venturers, and Rovers

The age of consent – the age at which the government states someone is old enough to make their own decision about whether they want to have sex – varies across Australia and around the world. This information is only relevant in Victoria – and the law of the place that you are in at the time you have sex will apply.

The age of consent in Victoria is 16. This means that anyone aged 16 or over is considered capable of making their own decisions, and where everyone involved is over 16 and gives consent, it is legal.

Where everyone involved is older than 12 and within 24 months of age of each other, it isn’t a crime. This means that, while they’re under the age of consent, a 12 year old and a 13 year old who both agree to have sex are not breaking any laws, and nor are a 15.5 year old and someone who’s just turned 17.

However, it is illegal to have sex with a 16 or 17 year old if you are caring for them. This means that, no matter what age a Rover or Venturer Leader is, it is illegal for them to have sex with a Venturer in their care.

Where none of the people involved in a sexual activity are charged with caring for any of the others involved, and are all under 18, there are different laws depending on the situation. You can find them all clearly explained here.

It is also important that anyone involved in sexual activity consents to it: regardless of their age, if consent hasn’t been given, it is illegal. Check this video out for a quick explainer:

 

Everyone must agree to sex before it takes place. Agreeing doesn’t mean not saying no, or pressuring someone until they say yes. If someone agrees to sex and then changes their mind, then continuing to have sex is not consensual and is breaking the law.

For more information on consent, visit ReachOut’s webpage.

Here’s another way of thinking about it (click on the picture to go to the video):


All sexual activities must also be safe. For more information about safe sex, check out these sites from the Better Health Channel, a Victorian Government service:

Sex: Are you ready

Safe Sex


Who can I talk to?

If there is an adult that you know that you trust and feel safe talking to, they are always a great place to start.

There are also lots of services available to help you out at any time of day or night. We have included some of them below.  Different services focus on different issues, so it’s best to find the one most suited to your needs.


If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, always call 000.

 


24 Hours: Kids Helpline1800 55 1800

Kids Helpline is Australia’s free, 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.


Office hours: Bravehearts - 1800 272 831

Bravehearts has been actively contributing to the provision of child sexual assault services throughout the nation since 1997.

The Bravehearts national information and support line can be accessed by anyone wanting information or support regarding child sexual assault, including but not limited to parents, carers, adult survivors and professionals such as teachers, guidance officers, doctors and psychologists.

Services provided include:

  • Information and support;
  • Counselling;
  • Advice and referral;
  • Support for professionals working with children;
  • Guidance around reporting disclosures;
  • Information on normal and problematic sexual behaviour; and
  • Teaching personal safety.

Our toll free 1800 272 831 Support Line is open during the hours of 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday AEST (Please note hours vary on public holidays).

People with hearing and speech impairments can reach us through the NATIONAL RELAY SERVICE:

TTY users phone 1800 555 677 then ask for 1800 272 831

Speak and Listen users phone 1800 555 727 then ask for 1800 272 831

Internet relay users connect to the NRS www.iprelay.com.au/call/index.aspx then ask for 1800 272 831


Office hours: Child Wise - 1800 991 099

The Child Wise National Child Abuse Helpline is a toll-free  number providing Australians with access to expert advice from trained counsellors and an opportunity to speak up about child abuse.

Child Wise also receives calls from people seeking information or support  in regards to the  Royal Commission  into Institutional Responses to  Child  Sexual Abuse. Please click here for more information about the Royal Commission and our Starting Point  Helpline services.

You can contact the toll-free National Child Abuse  Helpline from Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm AEST:
Email:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


24 hours: 1880 RESPECT1800 737 732

1800RESPECT is the National Sexual Assault Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service. It is a confidential online and telephone counselling, information and referral service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


After hours: Sexual Assault Crisis Line1800 806 292

The Sexual Assault Crisis Line Victoria (SACL) is a state-wide, after-hours, confidential, telephone crisis counselling service for victim/survivors of both past and recent sexual assault.

SACL operates between 5pm weeknights through to 9am the next day and throughout weekends and public holidays.


After hours: Switchboard Victoria 1800 184 527

Switchboard is a volunteer organisation which provides a free, confidential and anonymous telephone counselling, referral and information service for the Victorian and Tasmanian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) communities and their supporters. The phones are operated by trained volunteers who themselves identify as LGBTIQ.

Switchboard operates between 3pm and midnight every day.


Minus18

Minus18 is an organisation for LGBTIQ people under the age of 18, run by LGBTIQ young people. It provides a variety of services, from social groups and events to mentoring and online support. They do not provide immediate counselling services.


24 hours: Lifeline - 13 11 14

Lifeline provides all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to online, phone and face-to-face crisis support and suicide prevention services. Find out how these services can help you, a friend or loved one.

13 11 14 is a confidential telephone crisis support service available 24/7 from a landline, payphone or mobile.

Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can contact Lifeline. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation our trained volunteers are ready to listen, provide support and referrals.


Care Leavers Australia network - 1800 008 774

CLAN is a support, advocacy, research and training network for people who grew up in Australian orphanages, children's Homes, foster care and other institutions. CLAN understands that being raised without your own family has lifelong effects which require lifelong support services.

CLAN offers free telephone and face to face (if in NSW or VIC) counselling, help to obtain your records, help to write your story and a bi-monthy newsletter containing all the latest information for Care Leavers


Better Health Channel

The Better Health Channel provides health and medical information to improve the health and wellbeing of people and the communities they live in. This information is:

  • quality-assured and reliable
  • up-to-date
  • locally relevant
  • easy to understand.

The information on the site aims to help people understand and manage their health and medical conditions. It does not replace care provided by medical practitioners and other qualified health professionals.

It is fully funded by the Victorian Government, with no commercial advertising or corporate sponsorship.