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Engaging Student Voice at Siena College

At Siena College we hold the care, safety and wellbeing of children and young people as a central and fundamental responsibility of our College. Our commitment is drawn from and inherent in the teaching and mission of Jesus Christ, with love, justice and the sanctity of each human person at the heart of the gospel. (Siena Child Safe Policy, 2017)

Child safety remains a fundamental priority at Siena College and is central to all activities and programs.  Creating child safe school environments is a shared responsibility requiring the engagement of students, teachers, families and the broader school community. In Catholic schools, a ‘child safe culture’ is nurtured through an environment where children are respected, their voices are heard, and they are supported to feel safe and be safe (Moore et al. 2015). 

There are two significant projects that I will be working on with groups of students this year.  The first one will seek student input on their understanding of Child Safe Standards with a view to exploring students’ perceptions of safety, including their understanding of existing processes and what they feel should be done to respond to safety issues.  Students from Years 7 – 12 will be invited to participate in this forum in Term 1.  This will then form the basis of a Siena College Student Safety document that will reflect the voices of our students and inform our practice.

Siena College has also been invited to participate in research which is being conducted by Catholic Education Melbourne (CEM) in partnership with the Institute of Child Protection Studies at Australian Catholic University (ACU).  It is designed to enable schools to gather the perceptions of students regarding their safety.  You may be aware that a vital component of safe environments is the active participation of young people in building school cultures that are respectful and inclusive. In such an environment young people feel comfortable to communicate their views and concerns and actively contribute to school strategies and decisions about their safety.  Two year levels will be surveyed before the end of Term 2 and I look forward to sharing the learnings from these two projects with the Siena College community.




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