Edition 52

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Child safe standards implementation: update

Working together toward compliance
The VRQA has been busily working with stakeholders in the schools sector to understand how we can help them prepare for the 1 August 2016 implementation of the child safe standards.

In April, the VRQA held a workshop which was attended by over 50 representatives from Victoria’s schools sector to discuss what resources schools need to help them meet the child safe standards.

‘It a was morning of great collaboration’, said the VRQA’s Director, Lynn Glover, ‘attendees worked though each standard, identifying resources and ways we can work together to not only meet the child safe standards, but implement a cultural change in our schools where child safety becomes everyday practice.’

The VRQA’s recommendations from the workshop will soon be made available to all schools.

Child safe standards information sessions for principals and key staff
To help principals, schools governors and key school staff understand and implement the child safe standards, the VRQA is conducting a series of information sessions in Melbourne and selected regional centres throughout May and June 2016.

The information sessions will provide an overview of the child safe standards and the requirements of Ministerial Order No. 870. They will also explore the experiences of organisations that have strengthened their culture of child safety.

Booking is essential. Due to demand, the VRQA has scheduled an additional session in Melbourne on 8 June 2016.

The information sessions will be held in the following locations:

  • Bendigo – 17 May 2016, 2pm
  • Melbourne CBD– 20 May 2016, 1pm – BOOKED OUT (waiting list available)
  • Moe – 23 May 2016, 1pm
  • Geelong – 27 May 2016, 1pm
  • Benalla – 30 May 2016, 1pm
  • Ringwood – 1 June 2016, 1pm – BOOKED OUT (waiting list available)
  • Ballarat – 3 June 2016, 1pm
  • Frankston – 6 June 2016, 1pm – BOOKED OUT (waiting list available)
  • East Melbourne – 8 June 2016, 1pm

See the events page on the child safe website to secure your place.

The VRQA is calling for expressions of interest to attend an information session in Mildura. If you are interested in attending an information session in the Mildura region, please email the VRQA with your school’s details and include the number of staff who would be likely to attend.

To ensure that all schools can access the information provided at these sessions, some presentations will be filmed and the content made available on the VRQA’s child safe standards website.

Schools weigh in with what they need
Victorian schools have told the VRQA where they require assistance to meet the child safe standards by responding to the VRQA Child Safe Standards Readiness Tool.

Invitations to complete the readiness tool were sent by the VRQA to 2,244 schools from all sectors. Forty-eight per cent of schools completed the readiness tool online.

Of the schools that responded, most schools believe they are partially but not fully ready to meet the child safe standards. Schools have indicated that they are least ready to meet Standard 4 (screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse) and Standard 2 (a child safety policy or a statement of commitment to child safety).

Two thirds of schools intend to update or review their current child safe policies to comply with the child safe standards, and more than half would like assistance to develop child safe standards policies and practices.

Most schools identified Standard 4 (screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse) and Standard 6 (strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse) as the standards for which they would like further guidance. Over 80 per cent of respondents indicated that they would like to attend an information session about the child safe standards in their region.

As a result, the VRQA will be conducting information sessions throughout May and June 2016. Booking is essential. See the VRQA’s child safe standards website for a full list of event times and to reserve a place.

In addition, the VRQA is working with key stakeholders to develop resources schools have said will help them to meet the standards. These include: a risk tool (Standard 6); a checklist for staff selection (Standard 4); a checklist for a code of conduct and advice regarding acceptable behaviours (Standard 3); sample communication plans and possible messages for schools to communicate with school communities (all standards); and advice regarding procedures for responding to and reporting allegations of child abuse (Standard 5).

The VRQA will identify and develop additional information resources for the other standards schools have identified as either needing the most help with or being least prepared to meet.

The VRQA will continue to work with stakeholders and schools to develop and create a culture of child safety in all Victorian schools.

NSSSPs invited to self-assess against the child safe standards
This month, the VRQA invited around 50 registered non-school senior secondary providers (NSSSPs) to complete the VRQA Child Safe Standards Self-Assessment Tool. The self-assessment tool enables NSSSPs to assess their policies and practices against the standards.

NSSSPs with students under 18 years are encouraged to complete and submit the self-assessment tool as it will identify any gaps between the standards and NSSSPs’ current arrangements. It will help the VRQA to identify and target resources and guidance materials needed in the sector.

Completing and submitting the self-assessment tool is voluntary and the responses to the tool are collected in a way that individual NSSSPs cannot be identified.

NSSSPs have had to meet the child safe standards from 1 January this year. The self-assessment tool closes on 18 May 2016.

Child safe standards website
The VRQA’s child safe standards website has been revamped with further resources and information to help education and training providers prepare to meet the new standards. The website is continuously being updated with news and resources. Make sure you are checking it regularly as we work toward 1 August 2016.