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The child safe standards

To create and maintain a child safe organisation, organisations must have:

More information about each standard can be accessed from the drop down menu above.

For registered schools, Ministerial Order No. 870 sets out the specific actions they must take to meet these requirements.

In complying with the child safe standards, schools need to be mindful of the diversity of students and school communities and include the following inclusion principles as part of each standard:

  • promoting the cultural safety of Aboriginal children
  • promoting the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • promoting the safety of children with a disability.
 
 

Why are the standards important?

Child abuse is unacceptable. Ensuring children’s safety is a top priority for the Victorian Government.

Introducing minimum child safe standards is part of the Victorian Government’s response to the report of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations (Betrayal of Trust Report).

The Inquiry found that while the majority of children are safe in organisations, there are inadequate and inconsistent approaches to child safety in child-related organisations across Victoria.

The standards aim to create a culture where protecting children from abuse is part of everyday thinking and practice.

They will strengthen existing approaches to preventing and responding to child abuse and provide for consistency in how these issues are managed.

 
 

What is child abuse?

Child abuse includes any act committed against a child involving:

  • a sexual offence
  • a grooming offence; or
  • the infliction on a child of physical violence, serious emotional or psychological harm or serious neglect.
 
 

Who is responsible for monitoring the child safe standards?

Compliance will be monitored through existing arrangements for government funded and regulated services.

The VRQA is responsible for monitoring these arrangements among its registered and approved education and training providers, including registered schools. It will provide information and guidance to these organisations to assist them to implement these important changes.

The Department of Education and Training and the Department of Health and Human Services will also provide information and guidance for organisations around child safety.

 
 

Further information

The Department of Health and Human Services website provides information about reporting concerns about a child’s safety to the Victoria Police and other agencies.

Standard 1

Organisations must have strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements.

What is the intent of this standard? The organisation governing authority has the responsibility to embed a culture of child safety and ensure that policies and procedures demonstrate zero tolerance of child abuse in the organisation.

For schools: Ministerial Order No. 870 requirements

Minimum child safety standard: Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety in accordance with clause 7.

Clause 7

  1. The school governing authority must:
    1. develop strategies to embed a culture of child safety at the school;
    2. allocate roles and responsibilities for achieving the strategies;
    3. inform the school community about the strategies, and allocated roles and responsibilities;
    4. put the strategies into practice, and inform the school community about these practices; and
    5. periodically review the effectiveness of the strategies put into practice and, if considered appropriate, revise those strategies.

Standard 2

Organisations must have a child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety.

What is the intent of this standard? An organisation’s policies and procedures provide the foundation for and commitment to child safety in the organisation.

For schools: Ministerial Order No. 870 requirements Minimum child safety standard: A child safety policy or a statement of commitment to child safety in accordance with clause 8.

Clause 8

  1. school governing authority must ensure that the school has a child safety policy or statement of commitment to child safety that details:
    1. the values and principles that will guide the school in developing policies and procedures to create and maintain a child safe school environment; and
    2. the actions the school proposes to take to:
      1. demonstrate its commitment to child safety and monitor the school’s adherence to its child safety policy or statement of commitment;
      2. support, encourage and enable school staff, parents, and children to understand, identify, discuss and report child safety matters; and.
      3. support or assist children who disclose child abuse, or are otherwise linked to suspected child abuse.
  2. The school governing authority must inform the school community about the policy or statement, and make the policy or statement publicly available.

Standard 3

Organisations must have a code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children.

What is the intent of this standard? All staff in the organisation’s environment must be covered by a code of conduct which addresses child safety. Organisations should recognise and consider existing professional codes of conduct when developing child safety codes of conduct.

For schools: Ministerial Order No. 870 requirements

Minimum child safety standard: A child safety code of conduct in accordance with clause 9.

Clause 9

  1. The school governing authority must develop, endorse, and make publicly available a code of conduct that:
    1. has the objective of promoting child safety in the school environment;
    2. sets standards about the ways in which school staff are expected to behave with children;
    3. takes into account the interests of school staff(including other professional or occupational codes of conduct that regulate particular school staff), and the needs of all children; and
    4. is consistent with the school's child safety strategies, policies and procedures as revised from time to time.

Standard 4

Organisations must have screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel

What is the intent of this standard? Organisations must ensure that recruitment processes are in place to manage and reduce the risk of child abuse. In addition, processes must be in place to ensure that there are appropriate staff induction programs, staff professional development and staff supervision arrangements to ensure a child safe environment.

For schools: Ministerial Order No. 870 requirements

Minimum child safety standard: Screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse in accordance with clause 10.

Clause 10

  1. Subject to the requirements of the ETR Act, the school governing authority must ensure that the school implements practices for a child-safe environment in accordance with this clause.
  2. Each job or category of jobs for school staff that involves child connected work must have a clear statement that sets out:
    1. the job’s requirements, duties and responsibilities regarding child safety; and
    2. the job occupant’s essential or relevant qualifications, experience and attributes in relation to child safety.
  3. All applicants for jobs that involve child connected work for the school must be informed about the school’s child safety practices (including the code of conduct).
  4. In accordance with any applicable legal requirement or school policy, the school must make reasonable efforts to gather, verify and record the following information about a person whom it proposes to engage to perform child connected work:
    1. Working with Children Check status, or similar check;
    2. proof of personal identity and any professional or other qualifications;
    3. the person’s history of work involving children; and
    4. references that address the person’s suitability for the job and working with children.
  5. (5) The school need not comply with the requirements in clause (4), above if it has already made reasonable efforts to gather, verify and record the information set out in clauses (4)(a) to (4)(d), above about a particular individual within the previous 12 months.
  6. The school must ensure that appropriate supervision or support arrangements are in place in relation to:
    1. the induction of new school staff into the school’s policies, codes, practices, and procedures governing child safety and child connected work; and
    2. monitoring and assessing a job occupant’s continuing suitability for child connected work.
  7. The school must implement practices that enable the school governing authority to be satisfied that people engaged in child-connected work perform appropriately in relation to child safety.

Explanatory note: To be ‘satisfied’, it is not necessary that the school governing authority make each decision about the selection and supervision of school staff engaged in child-connected work. The school governing authority needs to be satisfied about the appropriateness of the school’s arrangements that would regulate or guide other people who make such decisions for or on behalf of the school about child safety matters and child-connected work.

Standard 5

Organisations must have processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse.

What is the intent of this standard? The organisations policies and procedures for reporting and responding to suspected child abuse must enable individuals to take the appropriate course of action to protect the safety of students.

For schools: Ministerial Order No. 870 requirements
Minimum child safety standard: Procedures for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse in accordance with clause 11.

Clause 11

  1. The school governing authority must have a clear procedure or set of procedures for responding to allegations of suspected child abuse in accordance with this requirement and other legal obligations.
  2. The school governing authority must ensure that the procedure is:
    1. sensitive to the diversity characteristics of the school community;
    2. made publicly available; and
    3. accessible to children, school staff, and the wider community.
  3. The procedure must:
    1. cover all forms of ‘child abuse’ as defined in the ETR Act;
    2. apply to allegations or disclosures of child abuse made by or in relation to a child, school staff, visitors, or other persons while connected to a school environment;
    3. identify the positions of the person or people who are responsible for:
      1. promptly managing the school’s response to an allegation or disclosure of child abuse, and ensuring that the allegation or disclosure is taken seriously;
      2. responding appropriately to a child who makes or is affected by an allegation of child abuse;
      3. monitoring overall school compliance with this procedure; and
      4. managing an alternative procedure for responding to an allegation or disclosure if the person allocated responsibility under clause (3)(c)(i), above cannot perform his or her role;
    4. include a statement that fulfilling the roles and responsibilities contained in the procedure does not displace or discharge any other obligations that arise if a person reasonably believes that a child is at risk of child abuse;
    5. clearly describe the actions the school will take to respond to an allegation of child abuse, including actions to:
      1. inform appropriate authorities about the allegation (including but not limited to mandatory reporting);
      2. protect any child connected to the alleged child abuse until the allegation is resolved; and
      3. make, secure, and retain records of the allegation of child abuse and the school’s response to it.
  4. The procedure must not:
    1. prohibit or discourage school staff from reporting an allegation of child abuse to a person external to the school;
    2. state or imply that it is the victim’s responsibility to inform the police or other authorities of the allegation;
    3. require staff to make a judgment about the truth of the allegation of child abuse; or
    4. prohibit staff from making records in relation to an allegation or disclosure of child abuse.

Standard 6

Organisations must have strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse.

What is the intent of this standard? The organisation governing authority must develop, implement, monitor and evaluate risk management strategies to ensure child safety in the organisation’s environments.

For schools: Ministerial Order No. 870 requirements
Minimum child safety standard: Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse in accordance with clause 12.

Clause 12

  1. The school governing authority must develop and implement risk management strategies regarding child safety in school environments.
  2. The school’s risk management strategies regarding child safety must identify and mitigate the risk(s) of child abuse in school environments by taking into account the nature of each school environment, the activities expected to be conducted in that environment (including the provision of services by contractors or outside organisations), and the characteristics and needs of all children expected to be present in that environment.
  3. If the school governing authority identifies risks of child abuse occurring in one or more school environments the authority must make a record of those risks and specify the action(s) the school will take to reduce or remove the risks (risk controls).

Explanatory note: Different risk controls may be necessary for particular groups of children depending on the nature of the risk and the diversity characteristics of children affected by the risk.

  1. As part of its risk management strategy and practices, the school governing authority must monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of its risk controls.
  2. At least annually, the school governing authority must ensure that appropriate guidance and training is provided to the individual members of the school governing authority and school staff about:
    1. individual and collective obligations and responsibilities for managing the risk of child abuse;
    2. child abuse risks in the school environment; and
    3. the school’s current child safety standards.

Standard 7

Organisations must have strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.

What is the intent of this standard? Organisations must ensure that children feel safe to report abuse and have processes in place to ensure that students are empowered to raise any child safety concerns. Organisations must support students to develop appropriate knowledge and skills so that children can identify and communicate when they don’t feel safe.

For schools: Ministerial Order No. 870 requirements
Minimum child safety standard: Strategies to promote child participation and empowerment in accordance with clause 13.

Clause 13

  1. The school governing authority must develop strategies to deliver appropriate education about:
    1. standards of behaviour for students attending the school;
    2. healthy and respectful relationships (including sexuality);
    3. resilience; and
    4. child abuse awareness and prevention.
  2. The school governing authority must promote the child safety standards required by the Order in ways that are readily accessible, easy to understand, and user-friendly to children.

Inclusion Principles

In complying with the child safe standards, schools need to be mindful of the diversity of students and school communities and include the following principles as part of each standard:

  • promoting the cultural safety of Aboriginal children
  • promoting the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • promoting the safety of children with a disability.

For schools: Ministerial Order No. 870 requirements

Principle of inclusion

Clause 6

In implementing the minimum child safety standards in accordance with this Order, school governing authorities must:

  1. take account of the diversity of all children, including (but not limited to) the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, children with disabilities, and children who are vulnerable; and
  2. make reasonable efforts to accommodate the matters referred to in clause 6(a).
Page Last Updated: 24/04/2017 8:51 AM
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