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Child safe environments for children with developmental delay or disability

When organisations demonstrate that they have child safe policies and practices in place that are inclusive of the particular needs of children with disability or developmental delay, this can go a long way to reassuring families that their children can safely participate in programs and activities.

Children with developmental delay or disability

Many Australian families are raising children with developmental delay or disability. These families may face additional barriers when accessing services for their child.

Promoting understanding and acceptance

Children with disability or developmental delay may participate in a wide range of community activities.  However, they may be particularly vulnerable to bullying and negative treatment from other children.

A vital component of creating a child safe organisation is to implement strategies that:

  • promote understanding and acceptance of diversity around disability and developmental delay
  • respond to victimisation and bullying of vulnerable children.

Organisations should be aware that some children who require additional support at school may not always require the same assistance to participate in other activities such as music or sport.

Each child’s abilities and needs should be assessed on a case by case basis in consultation with family members and where possible, with the child or young person receiving the service.

Parents with disability

Some families are also vulnerable because parents themselves may have disabilities which add to the challenges of fulfilling their roles as parents.

A parent with an intellectual disability or someone experiencing an episode of serious mental illness may struggle at times to meet their children’s needs and may have difficulty maintaining the care of their children.

Parents in these circumstances often require understanding, practical supports and assistance from others.

Creating family-focussed procedures and practices

Your organisation should consider the steps it can take to ensure its programs and services remain responsive and accessible to children and families affected by disability and developmental delay.

For example:

  • Be aware of physical boundaries within your organisation that may hinder a child’s or their family’s access to services.
  • Your code of conduct is a valuable tool for promoting respectful and inclusive behaviours.
  • Talk and listen to children and family members, and be aware of specific measures that may be required to enable safe access to your programs and services.
  • Recognise that all children have their own talents and aptitudes which should be valued and encouraged.
  • Be aware that children with disability may at times exhibit challenging behaviour towards others – consider strategies in consultation with family members to respond and provide a safe environment for all involved.
  • Embrace an ethos of quality assurance and continuous improvement - effective risk management strategies help to reduce risks associated with the specific nature of some activities and the vulnerability of particular groups.
  • Be flexible and open to strategies that allow for regular feedback from children with disability and their families regarding the quality and effectiveness of your programs and services.
  • Seek assistance from disability specialists and services if needed.


Child safe environments

Phone: 8463 6468
Email: educationchildsafe [at] sa.gov.au