Having dedicated many years to achieving WOSM’s Safe from Harm standards, the Mauritius Scouts Association is making significant impact in child, youth, and adult safeguarding - achievements that compliment the global Movement’s aim of making every child and adults involved in Scouting activities feel safe and protected.
When Norma Savoureux took on the role of Adult Resources Development Commissioner at her National Scout Organization (NSO) in 2019, she quickly realised the need to work on creating and implementing a strong framework for child and adult safeguarding. While her NSO’s existing national code of conduct already covered safety-related aspects, it was recognised that some areas needed strengthening to meet the new Safe from Harm requirements for WOSM membership. This began Norma’s journey - together with her colleagues from the national office - to create and implement a national Safe from Harm policy.
As part of the drafting process, several rounds of meetings were held with NSO colleagues, followed by a series of surveys and discovery workshops that involved Scout units from district level. By giving prominence to safeguarding, the NSO helped to successfully incorporate Safe from Harm at local and national events (such as JOTA-JOTI), open up of conversations on the topic, and engage district commissioners in discussions on making child and adult safety a priority.
Bolstering these achievements was support from Scouting’s regional and global levels. The NSO sought support from the Africa Support Centre to better understand the requirements of the global Safe from Harm policy, and requested a WOSM Service to get help with the drafting process. With the support of WOSM Consultants, Norma and the NSO were able to address any obstacles related to the adoption of a national Safe from Harm policy.
Despite the intensity of the drafting process, Norma said that working on the policy helped to rebuild her NSO’s confidence as it reaffirmed a sense of commitment to safeguarding and recognised the evolving needs of Scouts from across Mauritius.
The NSO’s new Safe from Harm policy was approved at its general assembly in June 2023, showcasing not only this milestone achievement but also how the Mauritius Scouts Association is driving child and youth safeguarding in the region and becoming a role model for other NSOs.
Among the notable changes the policy brings is the need for “listening ears” at events and activities - volunteers who provide spaces for anyone to talk and share if they face any danger or discomfort. It also outlines the warning signs of abuse and provides guidelines on how to manage such situations. It also introduces reporting procedures with contact numbers to allow Scouts to seek support and protection from danger.
Going forward, the NSO will focus its attention on implementation with a series of workshops, awareness and training session. Each will be designed to enable Scouts of all ages to be able to identify harmful situations and learn how they can avoid, report, or manage them.
NSOs interested in strengthening their safeguarding policies and procedures can request support through WOSM Services, including on how to conduct a Safe from Harm assessment to identify areas of improvement, and develop an action plan towards meeting WOSM’s Safe from Harm standards. Request a service today by clicking on this link!