Merrin Sulovski

Biography

Merrin Sulovski has a strong background in teaching undergraduate and post graduate units in child safety and protection at university level and is a qualified secondary teacher. She has completed postgraduate studies in adolescent health and welfare and is currently completing her thesis on body safety education at the University of Melbourne. Merrin has a particular interest in the teacher’s role in child protection.

Abstract

The introduction of the new Child Safe Standards in Victoria requires all organisations who work with children and young people to comply with seven specific standards including policy development and training of staff. While this is welcome, schools and early childhood settings face multiple challenges in implementing the standards.

The purpose of this presentation is to provide an overview of a whole school approach to child safety, protection and trauma-informed teaching that aligns with the Child Safe Standards. Child Protection Education provides comprehensive, interactive and research-based training in:
• Identifying and reporting child maltreatment
• The impact of trauma on brain development, function and learning
• Sexual abuse – the educator’s role in protecting children and young people
• Sexualised behaviour – the educator’s role in responding
• Family violence – the educator’s role and response
• How to empower children – rights and protection
Further, we provide advice to educational settings regarding policy development and offer parent/community workshops that complement the staff training.

A main point of difference in our approach is our focus specifically on schools and early childhood settings. As teachers ourselves, we understand that educators have specific needs relating to their role in child safety and protection. We aim to integrate theory and practice to assist educators in understanding their role in working with children who have experienced maltreatment, as well as children who display concerning sexualised behaviour. Feedback from leadership staff and educators suggests that this is a timely and much needed approach.

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