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6.16 Contact with Animals

Last Modified: 05-May-2017 Review Date: 01-Jun-2019

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Purpose

​To encourage appropriate, safe and managed interactions with animals in the home and community.

Practice Requirements

  • ​​​Residential care workers must educate children on the importance of appropriate behaviour around animals. 
  • Children must be encouraged to treat animals with respect and residential care workers should model appropriate behaviour when interacting with animals. 
  • Residential care workers must plan activities about animal awareness, safety and empathy before any children have contact with animals. ​​

Procedures

  • Contact with animals considerations
  • Contact with animals considerations

    ​​Interaction with animals may provide therapeutic benefit to some children, supporting emotional regulation and the processing of loss and grief. This interaction must be planned. 

    A number of residential care homes are located in semi-rural areas on large ‘bush’ blocks. Adjacent properties and neighbours may have a number of domesticated animals and pets, and native animals may also be present. 

    Children’s contact with these animals must be assessed and managed by staff. Consideration needs to be made for the following risk factors: 

    • ​Children’s health – Will the child have an allergic reaction or fear reaction? Is there a previous trauma and history? 
    • Any known previous harm to animals. 
    • Neighbourhood awareness - Neighbours may have animals and it may be necessary to meet with them to discuss their animals. 
    • Injury liability – Could there be any legal or financial ramifications if either a child, workers or the neighbourhood animals are harmed during any activities? Managers must assess the risks and plan for this through a safety plan. For planned activities, services must have public liability insurance. 
    • Native fauna - where possible, any activity with native wildlife should also be planned for and a safety plan completed. In the event of unplanned interaction, staff must follow emergency and safety procedures as required. Where there is a continuing risk, for example, a snake on the premises, contact a local snake catcher via the local government council. 

    Where residential care workers bring their own animals to a home to interact with the children, the care team should plan and manage the event, taking into account the risk factors listed above. 

    Residential care workers may contact other organisations to plan for children’s contact with animals for example, for horse-riding or working with the RSPCA. 

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