A new criminal offence for failing to protect a child under the age of 16 from sexual abuse commences on 1 July 2015.
A person in a position of authority within a relevant organisation may be found guilty if the person:
- knows that there is a substantial risk that an adult associated with the person’s organisation may commit a sexual offence against a child under 16 who is under the care, authority or supervision of the organisation and
- negligently fails to take reasonable steps to remove or reduce the risk of harm, for example by removing the adult from child-related work pending investigation.
A relevant organisation is one that exercises care, supervision or authority over children, whether as part of its primary function or otherwise. Relevant organisations will include a number of types of providers that the VRQA registers or approves including schools, registered training organisations, non-school senior secondary education providers, overseas secondary student exchange organisations and group training organisations.
For further information about the new offence, please refer to the fact sheet prepared by the Department of Justice and Regulation.
The new offence forms part of the response by the Victorian Government to the recommendations of the Betrayal of Trust Report.
The VRQA will continue to communicate with providers and stakeholders about relevant aspects of the Victorian Government response to the Betrayal of Trust Report. This includes the implementation of new responsibilities and powers for the VRQA for the regulation of school education under the Education and Training Reform Amendment (Child Safe Schools) Act 2015.
Further information about the Victorian Government response to the Victorian Parliament’s Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations is also available at the Betrayal of Trust Implementation website.