Simon Davies is a former Australian Federal Police Detective who now runs Safeguarding Services, which specialises in training, investigation and advisory services with a focus on child protection.
Next month, Simon will share this expertise when he conducts a MyKludo webinar on how codes of conduct can be used to safeguard children.
With more than twenty years’ experience working in this space, the session promises to be insightful and useful for any person or organisation working with young people.
Following fourteen years with the AFP, Davies took on the role of Director of Professional Standards with Catholic Education in Melbourne just as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was commencing. In this capacity, he had oversight over professional standards across approximately 450 schools and 20,000 staff. From this position, it was a natural step for Simon to start his own consultancy focusing on child abuse investigations and prevention.
“Safeguarding Services specialises in the investigation of current and historic child abuse,” Simon explains. “The majority of our clients are educational institutions and religious organisations. This is the reactive arm to the business.
“On the preventative side, we assist clients with policy development and implementation and training in an effort to prevent child abuse occurring in their institution in the first place. We have undertaken specialist training in interviewing children.”
Investigating child abuse complaints
There are clearly many challenges when investigating situations that involve children.
“Unfortunately we commonly investigate ‘grooming’, which is a process used by people with a sexual interest in children to prepare a child for sexual abuse. It is often very carefully planned and it can take place over weeks, months or even years. Other investigations we conduct regularly involve the physical or psychological abuse of a child where a worker has hit or shouted at child.”
Whether it is working with children or with adults who are dealing with childhood situations, Simon is mindful that his interaction may be the first time a person has ever told their story to someone who is actually listening.
“Historically children were not listened to. They were not only abused by the perpetrator, but in a way, they were also abused by the organisation for not listening to them when they brought the abuse to light. It is very rewarding seeing these people receive justice.”
What to look for when engaging an investigator in a situation where children are involved
Along with this ability to really listen, Simon must also draw on a wide range of skills to undertake his role effectively.
“I think I bring an independent, unemotional, reasoned approach to my clients during a time of crisis. My clients are emotionally invested in the situation, which is typically one of the worst days in their career. So when I bring my experience and expertise to them, it brings them a level of comfort and reassurance that they value. They know they are in safe hands.”
Given the sensitive nature of the work, this kind of confidence is crucial, and Simon recommends clients takes steps to guarantee this when engaging an investigator.
“They shouldn’t be afraid to ask for references, licences and qualifications, so they can be assured of the investigator’s bona fides.”
The importance of education and training in preventing child abuse
In his other role as an educator, Simon’s goal is prevention.
“In a perfect world there would be no need for child abuse investigations. If we can prevent child abuse from occurring through meaningful and targeted training, then that’s a good outcome.”
In addition to this preventative work, education programs also play a significant role in overcoming common misunderstandings about abuse situations.
“The biggest challenge for me is still the unfortunate reality that most adults doubt the truthfulness of a child when they disclose abuse. We are trying to change this and other misconceptions about child abuse through our training programs.”
Simon’s MyKuldo webinar on how codes of conduct help to safeguard children will take place on 6 October 2020, and you can sign up here.
MyKludo assists clients to make the best decision about finding the right investigator or consultant, obtains independent quotes and gives clients and investigators access to top rated case management tools. Mykludo also offers a range of other training options for organisations and individuals. Find out more here.
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