Since organising your data at the turn of this year, we encountered the opportunity to use the new booking mechanisms to solidify our responsible approach to Privacy practices, tax disclosures as a community group and to address the compliance requirements around teaching Yoga to children.
So what does the law say about Kids Yoga? What are the requirements of teachers and organisers working in this space? And what should you know as a parent, in terms of the safeguards required by Yoga schools to protect minors?
Child Protection Laws in Australia:
There is an extensive list of Australian child protection legislation, that is constantly being updated, however the most prevalent of laws protecting our children at Yoga events is the Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 (WA) ("WWC Act").
Anyone who is a minor or works for organisations who work with minors are captured by the Child Protection laws, and the law defines a minor as anyone under the age of 18 years of age. Mandatory registration of your Yoga Teacher/officers of organisations and anyone that children are exposed to during events must take place and those names are published on the Working With Children ("WWC") register, following police clearance of the person. The law gives parents the ability to check without creating a fuss, by either searching the register online or by requesting to see the Yoga Teacher's WWC card, which should be on display if the organisation promotes child protection initiatives.
To secure venue premises and comply with responsible risk management at Yoga classes, organisations will need Public Liability ("PL") insurance to insure it's participants from general incidents that can occur from gathering with a public group. A Yoga school and its teachers will all have a PL and Professional Indemnity insurance, which is where the remainder of limitations for Yoga businesses lie, as a separate (more expensive) Children's Yoga insurance policy must be purchased by both teachers and the organiser, in addition to the usual, adult policy, if the organiser or teacher wants to be fully compliant and covered in the event of a claim. With insurance, if everything is not done properly, a policy is immediately void and participants are at risk of not getting the financial support they may need in the unlikely instance of a debilitating injury.
Children Specific Yoga Training and the submission of evidence to support adequate qualification arise because of Insurance companies, as the Yoga industry remains unregulated by government. The scrutiny of the authenticity of Yoga training providers, by insurance companies has increased significantly over the last 12 months in relation to new applications to buy Yoga Teacher insurance and this is a mechanism that acts in your interest as a participant to make sure your teachers and Yoga school are adequately qualified and have the policies and procedures in place for an insurance company to back them.
You may be surprised to hear of the backlash from Yogis about the non-authority of bodies that Police the yoga industry. With all that political perspective aside, insurance companies heavily recognise the validation of Yoga Alliance and Yoga Australia, as these professional bodies require members to jump through hoops and throw a contentious amount of money acquiring their globally recognised certification marks and accreditation. Professional Bodies will guide members to continue with compulsory professional development and mentoring for the area they teach in, including Children's Yoga and un-doubtably create barriers that inexperienced Yoga teachers or wellness charlaton cannot overcome.
MAIN POINTS PARENT'S SHOULD KNOW
1) If a minor is at a Yoga event, they must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or be with a guardian that has been approved to attend the event with the minor, by way of a letter of consent, issued to the organiser, by the minors legal guardian. Minors cannot just attend adult events and organisers should know who their patrons are and be checking that minors are protected and not vulnerable in their interactions with adults. This is achieved by the compulsory signing of a registration form and waiver by each adult that attends our events. Minor details and consent letters can be included and uploaded to our registration form.
2) Without being an industry expert, sighting a copy of an organisation's Certificate of Currency is proof of adequate insurance, hence adequate qualification and training to supply Yoga services to children. Whilst an organisation isn't required to show this document to you, a responsible Yoga school will want to be transparent when contracting with clients and address legitimate concerns about competence as they come up, so you can always ask!
3) Yoga Teachers, assistants, directors of organisations and contractors exposed to children regularly, must provide proof of WWC registration to the organisations they contract with by the 5th occasion of delivering services for them. So if you see a face at an event often, you can ask that person whether they would mind displaying their WWC card if they are not already doing so.
4) Generally, interacting with minors online requires a much higher level of data retention prevention, risk appetite and compliance work, due to international legislation governing the internet and communications, so for this reason most websites only allow people over the age of 18 to sign up and use them to enter into purchases. For this reason, our website is only for users 18 years of age and older and parents are directed to interact with us on their child's behalf.
5) If your Yoga School is proactive about the responsible management of their services and organisational learning then they are likely to have a dedicated mechanism for feedback. This could be via a survey, complaint form or a dedicated email like the one Perth Yoga for Everybody has set up firstname.lastname@example.org, which goes to an independently nominated agent who treats each email confidentially, withholding identifying information about the person from the managers that receive the necessary parts that you feedback to us. Feedback is summarised and combined with other feedback making it non-specific to you unless you choose so. This means that if you have feedback about one of our Yoga Teachers, an owner, a Director or anyone in our group, they won't get to see your feedback but the managing officers will get the message of what needs to be conveyed without it affecting your interaction with us or our staff. Alternatively, email@example.com can be used to identify your self and request action directly from management.
NEW FAMILY EVENTS 2019/2020
The October Yoga Summer season is around the corner with a new Acro Yoga class scheduled to start fortnightly on Saturdays, which will be family friendly and open to children aged 7-18 years of age. Our Sunday dose of double Ashtanga is also family friendly for parents wanting to bring along their kids. Visit here to book.
The children are the leaders of tomorrow. Let us protect them and show respect for their important place in our community. I hope this article helps other organisers and parents to understand the current community action in the Yoga industry to include our kids.
By William Forde
Events Manager | Perth Yoga for Everybody