The Victorian Government has now introduced child safe standards for organisations that work with children. Ministerial Order 870 sets out the specific actions that registered schools need to take to meet the child safe standards.
Registered schools have until 1 August 2016 to meet the requirements of the standards.
The standards already apply to other organisations including overseas secondary student exchange organisations that are not registered schools and non-school senior secondary providers. See the child safe standards website for further information.
A new website: where to go for child safe info
In January, the VRQA launched a useful resource to assist organisations to meet the child safe standards: the child safe standards website.
The mobile friendly website contains information about the standards for school professionals, students, parents and other organisations that work with children. It will be updated with further resources in the coming months and will be a valuable point of reference for schools and education and training providers.
The VRQA Child Safe Readiness Tool: helping schools prepare
To help schools prepare to meet the standards by 1 August 2016, in February the VRQA Child Safe Standards Readiness Tool was distributed to all Victorian schools.
The VRQA received a significant response rate with almost 48 per cent of Victorian schools responding to the readiness tool.
Feedback from the readiness tool is positive, with comments indicating that it is ‘very helpful’, ‘a very practical, useful tool’ with ‘wording that can be used in policy and will incorporate into staff professional development’ and ‘will assist schools to clearly identify areas they are compliant [with] and [where] they require action’.
The data collected is now being analysed with initial results indicating that schools would value guidance material that includes sample content for strategic and policy documents, an exemplar code of conduct, checklists and templates, and resources that can be accessed by the school community. The VRQA is also looking at options to conduct child safe standards briefing sessions for schools.
The readiness tool closed on 29 February 2016. However, a PDF version of the VRQA Child Safe Standards Readiness Tool (pdf - 522.74kb) can be accessed on the child safe standards website.
The website and readiness tool are just some of the ways the VRQA is working with schools and education providers to strengthen existing approaches to preventing and responding to child abuse.
Children have the right to be safe and protected. Child abuse and the arrangements that allow it to occur will not be tolerated.