New Victorian child safety standardsOctober 3, 2015
As part of the Victorian Government’s response to the “Betrayal of Trust Inquiry”, new legislation is to be introduced that will set compulsory minimum standards to help ensure the safety of children.
The child safe standards will apply to organisations that provide services for children, and will be phased in over two years, on the following basis:
From 1 January 2016: Children’s services organisations that are government funded and/or regulated, including:
- registered schools (government and non-government);
- approved education and care services (kindergartens, after hours care);
- organisations registered or accredited to provide senior secondary education and training; and
- approved education and training organisations providing courses to students from overseas.
From 1 January 2017: Other organisations that provide children’s services but that have limited or no funding and/or regulatory arrangements with government, including:
- post-school education and training providers, including TAFE institutes and universities;
- organisations which employ a child for whom a permit is required under the Child Employment Act 2003.
What are the child safe standards?
The standards are currently being refined and will be introduced through legislation in late 2015. Generally, it is expected that relevant organisations will be required to have:
- strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements;
- a child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety;
- a code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children;
- screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel;
- processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse;
- strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse; and
- strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.
The child safe standards complement the recent introduction of the Education and Training Reform Amendment (Child Safe Schools) Act 2015. These amendments impose new registration requirements on schools to develop policies, procedures, measures, and practices in accordance with a Ministerial Order for managing risks associated with child abuse. The requirements for managing risks associated with child abuse may include minimum standards for ensuring schools are child safe environments, and ways to respond to allegations of child abuse that are connected with the school. These amendments will come into operation by no later than 21 December 2015.