Responding to Abuse Allegations
Children, the elderly and vulnerable people
We can help you respond appropriately to abuse allegations to ensure your handling of the matter is beyond reproach.
It is the greatest nightmare of any organisation working with children, the elderly or vulnerable people. Abuse allegations can be costly and damaging for your business if complaints are ignored, swept under the carpet or poorly investigated. Successive Royal Commissions and inquiries into child sexual assault in government and church-run institutions is testament to the end result of failure to respond.
If allegations of abuse have come to light within your organisation, they must be dealt with meticulously. Failure to adequately address these issues can have serious ramifications for an organisation down the track, not to mention the added trauma caused to victims and their families by organisations that fail to acknowledge their suffering.
Our specialist team of investigators and child protection consultants has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to responding to and investigating abuse allegations in private and public sector organisations. We can also help with preventative measures such as policy development and risk assessment.
Checklist for Responding to Allegations of Abuse
This checklist is designed as an immediate response guide for organisations dealing with children and vulnerable groups. Of course, every organisation is different and one size does not fit all when it comes to handling allegations of abuse. Prevention is better than cure. Organisations should have robust policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety of those in its charge, and to effectively manage allegations if and when they do arise. Take all allegations seriously, even if made informally or anonymously.
- Ensure the immediate safety of the alleged victim
- Immediately remove the accused person from any position that brings them into contact with the victim or other vulnerable people
- Ensure every action taken is meticulously documented
- Appoint a crisis management specialist, particularly if the allegations involve criminal conduct and are likely to be made public
- Notify the parents/guardians or immediate family of the alleged victim and advise them of the action taken so far
- Notify relevant authorities if the allegations are of a criminal nature
- Notify insurers if relevant
- Inform the parties to the complaint of the need for confidentiality
- Respond to any concerns raised by carers and family members of the parties
- Appoint an external investigator if the authorities are not already investigating
- Provide assistance to the victim with regard to counseling or medical care if required
- If media attention is likely, prepare a written statement and designate a spokesperson
- Checklist for Preventing Abuse
- There are many things organisations can do to help prevent abuse. Here are some of ideas:
- Ensure that stringent pre-employment screening processes are in place for paid employees and volunteers
- Formulate sound policies and procedures for managing the people in your care
- Ensure staff are kept well informed of the standard of care expected
- Have an open door policy encouraging staff and those in your care to report suspected abuse confidentially
- Let it be known that all allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and investigated fully