All Victorian organisations that provide services or facilities to children are required by law to comply with the Child Safe Standards.
The department plays an important role in overseeing and promoting compliance with the Child Safe Standards, and has adopted a risk-based regulatory approach to assessing compliance. This approach is consistent with the department's Better Regulatory Practice Framework.
Review of Victoria’s Child Safe Standards
The department has now completed the review of the Victorian Child Safe Standards on behalf of the Victorian Government. The review’s final report is available on the DHHS website.
The review found:
- Strong support for the existing Child Safe Standards and the current scope of organisations required to comply with them
- Implementation of the Child Safe Standards was challenging but most organisations believe that the Standards help support a child safe culture
- Strong support for aligning the Child Safe Standards with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations
- Oversight and compliance of the Child Safe Standards needs to be strengthened.
The review makes 15 recommendations, which fall into three categories:
- Amending the Victorian Child Safe Standards to align with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations
- Amending the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 to more clearly define which organisations are required to comply with the Child Safe Standards, and who is responsible for regulating those organisations
- Amending the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 to provide a consistent suite of compliance and enforcement tools to regulators.
The Government has endorsed all 15 recommendations in the review’s final report.
As a first step, the Victorian government has committed to align Victoria’s Standards with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. Work will commence on updating the Standards as a first priority, with a focus on how best to retain the concept of child empowerment and maintain a distinct and explicit focus on cultural safety for Aboriginal children in aligning with the National Principles.
Amendment to the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act will occur at a later date.
What are the Child Safe Standards?
The Child Safe Standards are comprised of three overarching principles and seven broad standards. These have been designed to drive cultural change in organisations, so that protecting children from abuse is embedded in the everyday thinking and practice of leaders, staff and volunteers.
This will assist organisations to:
- Promote the safety of children
- Prevent child abuse
- Ensure effective processes are in place to respond to and report allegations of child abuse
- Encourage children to ‘have a say’, especially on issues that are important to them or about decisions that affect their lives.
As part of each standard, organisations must reflect and embed the following overarching principles:
- Promoting the cultural safety of Aboriginal children
- Promoting the cultural safety of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
- Promoting the safety of children with a disability.
The seven Standards are as follows:
- Strategies to embed a culture of child safety through effective leadership arrangements.
- A child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety.
- A code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children
- Screening, supervision, training, and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing staff
- Processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse.
- Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse.
- Strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.
To help organisations to understand the requirements of the Child Safe Standards, we have developed a number of resources for our funded and/or regulated organisations, see Resources for Child Safe Standards.
All organisations may also refer to the information and resources available on the Commission for Children and Young People website