The Child Safe Standards (the Standards) are compulsory minimum standards for all organisations that provide services to children including Victorian schools. The aim of the Standards is to ensure organisations are well prepared to protect children from abuse and neglect. It is recognised that many schools will have existing policies and procedures that aim to keep children safe.
The Standards provide a framework to identify gaps and improve policy and practices around child safety. On 26 November 2015, the Victorian Parliament passed the Child Wellbeing and Safety Amendment (Child Safe Standards) Bill 2015, which amended the Child Safety and Wellbeing Act 2005 to introduce the Child Safe Standards that would apply to all organisations involved in child related work in Victoria.
The Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) as regulator for all Victorian schools has responsibility for ensuring compliance with the Child Safe Standards in schools. The Standards are:
- Standard 1: Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety
- Standard 2: A child safety policy or a statement of commitment to child safety
- Standard 3: A Child Safety Code of Conduct
- Standard 4: Screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse
- Standard 5: Procedures for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse
- Standard 6: Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse
- Standard 7: Strategies to promote child participation and empowerment.
Ministerial Order 870 - Child Safe Standards - Managing the Risk of Child Abuse in Schoolsprovides guidance on how the Standards apply to a school setting. It came into effect on 1 August 2016. To implement the minimum Standards in accordance with the Order school governing authorities must:
- take account of the diversity of all children, including (but not limited to) the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, children with disabilities, and children who are vulnerable; and
- make reasonable efforts to accommodate such diversity.