Archived News

12 December 2017: Principals' feedback on the child safe standards

The Child Safe Standards Implementation Feedback Project has now finished. More than 200 Victorian school principals provided insight into how they have progressed implementing the standards and requirements of Ministerial Order No. 870 at their school.

The project found that schools had invested significant resources in implementing the child safe standards, but indicated a need for further support.

As a result, we will continue to develop resources and guidance material to help schools engage with child safety and drive cultural change within their school communities.

We have shared the findings with the Department of the Education and Training, the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria and Independent Schools Victoria.  

We would like to thank all participating school principals and staff for their positive response to the project and for engaging with us on this important initiative.

12 December 2017: Hitting the road for home schooling

Working towards a culture of child safety

The VRQA hit the road through October and November, taking the Home Schooling Regulations Roadshow across Melbourne and throughout Victoria.

Teaming with the Victorian Home Education Advisory Committee (VHEAC), Chris Ingham, VRQA Deputy CEO and a number of VRQA officers hosted 13 roadshow sessions from Wodonga to Warrnambool and Bendigo to Bairnsdale.

More than 1100 participants attended the roadshows, including a successful webcast session that saw more than 200 home schooling families participate from home.

For anyone who missed it or would like to catch up on a session, a video and transcript (docx - 822kb) from the webcast session is now live on the VRQA website.

The VRQA would like to thank the VHEAC representatives for their collaboration and contribution to the roadshow’s success.

12 December 2017: Home schooling resource roundup

Working towards a culture of child safety

Learning plan templates and examples

From 1 January 2018, all home schooling applications will need to include a learning plan. To help families navigate this new requirement, the VRQA with the Victorian Home Education Advisory Committee (VHEAC) has developed two learning plan templates and some examples of what a learning plan could comprise. The examples provide for children at various stages of their education and in various circumstances. Use of these learning plan templates and examples is optional.

Learning plan templates and examples are available on the home schooling Resources page of the website.

Education@Home

Launched by the Minister for Education, our new home schooling newsletter, Education@Home is a key channel for communicating to Victoria’s home schooling community.

The online newsletter delivers important information about the upcoming changes to home schooling regulation and provides access to guidance material and resources.

Visit the home schooling news for the latest Education@Home articles.

Policy in place

As the new home schooling regulations draw closer, we have developed a number of policies to guide our role in regulating home schooling in Victoria.

The VRQA Home Schooling Policy (docx - 802.07kb) outlines our role in regulating home schooling as well as what is required of parents who wish to register their child for home schooling.

Our Home Schooling Internal Review Policy (docx - 792.13kb) outlines how the decisions we make about home schooling registration can be reviewed.
The Home Schooling Assessment Framework and Review Process (docx - 814.78kb) describes our approach to:

  • assessing learning plans submitted as part of the application process
  • the assessment of applications to exempt a student from receiving instruction in one or more of the learning areas
  • annual reviews of the registration of students for home schooling.

These policies and processes have been developed with the Department of Education and Training and the VHEAC.

12 December 2017: New requirements for schools with international students

Working towards a culture of child safety

Important regulatory changes commence on 1 January 2018 for schools providing courses to overseas students.

The National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 revises the minimum standards for all education providers delivering courses to international students.

Schools enrolling overseas students have responsibility for approving a student’s accommodation, support and welfare where the student under the age of 18 is not living with a parent or approved relative. 
From 2018, education providers assuming this responsibility cannot delegate or contract it out.

They must verify that the accommodation they have approved for the student, such as a homestay placement is suitable for the student’s age and needs:

  • prior to the student commencing
  • at least every six months.

The National Code also strengthens a range of measures to protect younger overseas students including:

  • enhanced provisions for matters that schools must include in student written agreements
  • new measures to ensure continuity of student welfare arrangements where students transferring are between education providers.

The Commonwealth Department of Education and Training is responsible for the National Code and, with the VRQA, hosted an information seminar in December for our school sector providers. 

The seminar presentation and resources are available on our website.

Have your say on our guidelines

We have released a consultation draft of the VRQA Guidelines for Enrolment of Overseas Students Aged Under 18 (docx - 56.47kb) and are seeking feedback from schools registered on CRICOS. 

The VRQA Guidelines:

  • supplement the new 2018 ESOS National Code to align with Victorian child safe standards
  • support CRICOS schools by clarifying and setting minimum standards for key National Code terms such as ‘appropriate accommodation’
  • provide additional protection for overseas students aged under 18.

Please provide written feedback on the draft Guidelines by 28 February 2018 to:

vrqa.schools@edumail.vic.gov.au
or by mail to:

Manager School Projects, VRQA
GPO Box 2317
Melbourne 3001

12 December 2017: New look website

Early next year, you will notice a new vrqa.vic.gov.au.
We will launch a new look and feel to the website, and then progressively change the website’s navigational structure.
Our new website will improve user experiences and make our information easier to find.

We are taking measures to redirect pages and ensure a seamless transition for our users.

Thank you to all our clients and stakeholders who participated in usability testing and completed our website improvement survey. Your involvement has shaped the development of our new website and informed how we present our information.

18 September 2017: Home schooling update—expressions of interest for assessors panel

The VRQA has released an expression of interest for its Home Schooling Assessors Panel.

From 1 January 2018, new requirements for home schooling commence as part of the implementation of the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017, including:

  • a learning plan to be submitted with each new home schooling registration application
  • an annual review of around 10 per cent of families.

The VRQA is seeking to supplement its internal resources with a panel of assessors with experience in a range of education settings and in a variety of learning styles and approaches, including for children with special learning needs.

The panel will assist with the assessment of learning plans submitted as a requirement of initial registration and will also undertake assessment as part of the annual reviews.

The EOI is the first stage of a multi-stage procurement process so that the VRQA can gain a better understanding of the supplier market and range of solutions that may be available.

Detailed information on the EOI is available on the Tenders VIC website.

18 September 2017: Update to approved student exchange organisations for school placements

The VRQA has updated the list of student exchange organisations (SEOs) approved to provide overseas secondary student exchange programs.

Schools should only place an exchange student from a VRQA-approved SEO as they are:

  • approved against the VRQA Guidelines
  • approved against the Victorian child safe standards
  • responsible for the student's accommodation and welfare outside of school.

Schools that enroll an exchange student from a VRQA-approved SEO are eligible for Commonwealth or state funding for the student.

A list of the 11 VRQA approved SEOs is on the VRQA website

Please note that STS Student Exchange and Nacel Australasia are no longer VRQA-approved SEOs.

If your school is approached about student exchange by organisations not approved by VRQA, or if you have any questions regarding exchange programs, please contact Gary Bourton at VRQA on 9032 1539 or bourton.gary.j@edumail.vic.gov.au.

18 September 2017:Working towards a culture of child safety: new resources

Talking about child safety

As we all work towards embedding a culture of child safety, it is important that schools have open and ongoing dialogue with their staff, council/board, and leadership teams.

To facilitate this dialogue and help schools bring child safety into everyone's everyday thinking and practice, the VRQA has developed a school (docx - 811.47kb)

The discussion tool helps schools reflect on their own child safe culture by exploring themes emerging from case studies before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Child safety is not an issue reserved for heads of schools alone — it is the whole school community's responsibility to make children's safety a priority and commit to zero tolerance for child abuse.

Forming a foundation for the Reportable Conduct Scheme

The VRQA, together with the Commissioner for Children and Young People, has released a new video resource: Taking Children's Safety Seriously.

Victorian schools worked hard to implement the child safe standards in 2016 and are now building a culture where child safety is part of everyday thinking and practice.

Having child safe standards in place has been a crucial foundation from which to meet the requirements of the Reportable Conduct Scheme, which commenced on 1 July 2017.

Further information, including fact sheets, is available on the CCYP website.

18 September 2017:Child Safe Standards Implementation Feedback Project

Phase three of the Implementation Feedback Project involving over 200 government, Catholic and independent schools across the state has commenced.

Thank you to the many principals and school leaders who are taking time out of their busy schedules to participate in a phone call and provide feedback on their experience in implementing the standards.

A focus group discussion was also held in Shepparton with principals from the Hume Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals.

The project aims to identify where schools are at one year on from implementation, as well as identify the challenges and examples of good practice which can be shared more widely.

18 September 2017: The Reportable Conduct Scheme​ 

The VRQA will soon be contacting education providers as part of our annual client and stakeholder research.

You may notice a new look and format to our research this year. We have contracted the Wallis Group to undertake the research on our behalf and we have adjusted the questionnaire to make it less onerous and time consuming for our providers.

Annual research findings are used to update and improve our services to our clients and stakeholders. Some outcomes of the 2016 research findings include the upgrade of the VRQA website (underway) and the increased number of VRQA stakeholder events and educative resources.

31 July 2017: The Reportable Conduct Scheme​ 

To help schools and other organisations understand new obligations under the Reportable Conduct Scheme, the VRQA with the Commissioner for Children and Young People has produced an introductory video.

The Reportable Conduct Scheme came into effect for a number of organisations, including schools, on 1 July 2017.

As outlined by the Commissioner, heads of schools are now required to report allegations regarding employee behaviour or actions towards a child made by volunteers and employees, to the Commission for Children and Young People.

An allegation regarded as 'reportable conduct', includes:

  • sexual offences or misconduct committed against, with or in the presence of a child
  • physical violence against, with or in the presence of a child
  • any behaviour that causes significant emotional or psychological harm to a child
  • significant neglect of a child.

The Commission for Children and Young People is rolling out the Reportable Conduct Scheme across Victoria in three phases. It is worth noting that if your organisation falls into more than one phase, your organisation as a whole is within the Scheme from the earliest relevant phase. For example, after school care service operators are not required to comply until phase three, which is scheduled for January 2019. However, if the operators are employed by the school, then they are under the school's responsibility and fall into phase one from 1 July 2017.

Detailed information, including fact sheets, is available on the CCYP website.​ ​

31 July 2017: New regulations, new requirements

The Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017 have commenced, replacing the 2007 Regulations.

What's changed for schools?

  • Within school governance, the probity minimum standard has been strengthened to a 'fit and proper person' requirement replacing the 'good character' requirement.
  • A new definition of a 'responsible person' has been developed.
  • The 'not-for profit' requirements have been strengthened.
  • A registered school must now publish a clear statement of its philosophy and be able to demonstrate how the school's philosophy is enacted.
  • The school's proprietor is now responsible for ensuring that the governance of a school is structured to enable:
    1. the effective development of the school's strategic direction
    2. the effective management of the school's finances
    3. the school to fulfil its legal obligations.

What's changed for complaints investigation?

There were also some changes to how the VRQA investigates complaints, with arrangements revised to include:

  • an exemption to the complaints procedure if VRQA is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to not initially raise the complaint with the relevant school, person or body (regulation 100)
  • a referral of complaints from the Commission for Children and Young People.

What's changed for home schooling?

The Regulations also include changes to the regulation of home schooling. From 1 January 2018:

  • all new home schooling applications will require a one-off learning plan
  • the VRQA will annually review around 10 per cent of families.

In the lead up to 1 January 2018, the VRQA will be working with home schooling families to help them prepare for the changes.

The Regulations are made under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006. They prescribe a number of matters under the Act relating to registration of schools, including non-government schools, education and training organisations, children for home schooling, as well as the role of the VRQA in investigating complaints.

For more information on the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017, see the DET website.

Updated VRQA guidelines

To support the new Regulations and to help providers understand their regulatory requirements, the VRQA has updated its publications, guidelines and forms.

The following documents have been updated and are available on the VRQA website:

What if my school is up for review?
Existing schools will be reviewed against the old regulations until 1 July 2018. To help prepare for a review, see our website to understand which guidelines you should follow.

31 July 2017: Child safe standards

Apprenticeships and traineeships consultation

Where we are now

Victorian schools and school communities have worked hard to implement the child safe standards.

In our latest animation, Where We Are Now, we reflect on the work undertaken across the school sector and outlines activities that will help schools stay on track to embedding a culture of child safety.

The video is particularly helpful to schools participating in the VRQA's Implementation Feedback Project, a school review or that wish to check their compliance with the child safe standards.

Thank you to the Catholic Education Commission Victoria, Independent Schools Victoria and the Department of Education and Training for their support in producing this video.

Changes to duty of care and working with children requirements

On 1 July 2017, the Wrongs Amendment (Organisational Child Abuse) Act 2017 commenced. This arises from the Betrayal of Trust Report and creates a new duty of care that:

  • an organisation that exercises care, supervision or authority over children owes a duty to take reasonable precautions to prevent the abuse of a child by an individual associated with the organisation while the child is under the care, supervision or authority of the organisation.

A fact sheet detailing the changes is available on the Department of Justice and Regulation website.

As of 1 August 2017, new provisions to the Working with Children Act 2005 will take effect. The changes arise from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Recommendations, and include:

  • the expansion of the definition 'direct contact' to include oral, written or electronic communication as well as face-to-face and physical contact
  • the removal of references to 'supervision', meaning that if a person's contact with children as part of their child-related work is supervised by another person, they will still need to apply for a Working with Children Check. 

More information is available on the Working with Children Check website.

31 July 2017: Help us improve our website

We are redeveloping the VRQA website and would like to understand your experience. Please take a minute to complete our short survey, which will inform the redevelopment of the site.
We respect your privacy and will not gather or retain personal details in the survey. For more information on privacy please refer to the VRQA Privacy Statement.

Thanks for your help!

31 July 2017: Ten years of the VRQA

Ten years of the VRQA

The VRQA is 10 years old. This anniversary is an opportunity to look back and recognise the achievements and relationships the VRQA has built over the last ten years.

The Education Training and Reform Act 2006 established the VRQA to address issues meeting minimum standards in schools. At the time, the VRQA adopted an approach that has remained at the core of our legislative functions; to consult, audit, investigate, authorise and report.

The VRQA has since grown into an organisation working in an increasingly complex environment, overseeing a range of education and training regulatory functions; from schools to apprenticeships, traineeships, home schooled children, vocational education and training providers.

We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work of our Board, our stakeholders, peers and colleagues whose expertise and professionalism ensures Victoria’s high quality education and training sector.

Happy anniversary to us!

26 July 2017: Reintroduction of trade papers consultation

The Minister for Training and Skills has asked the VRQA to reintroduce trade papers for people that complete an apprenticeship. The previous system was abolished in 2013.

The VRQA is seeking consultation on the reintroduction of trade papers. Responses to the Discussion Paper (doc - 18.47mb) should be forwarded to vrqa.apprenticeships@edumail.vic.gov.au by 30 July 2017.

Consultation has already occurred with Victorian Industry Advisory Groups (IAGs) on implementation options.

IAGs have indicated a strong preference that a Trade Certificate with a unique identifier be issued to all completing apprentices (not trainees) free of charge.  There was general support for the occupational titles on the Trade Certificate to match ABS defined occupational titles. Some concerns were however raised that ABS occupations may not always match, or be as specific, as the occupational titles used in some industries.

This document seeks the views of other interested stakeholders on reintroduction options and related matters.

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For past news articles from 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015,216 and early 2017 see: VRQA news archive.

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