The Victorian Government is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all children and young people.
As part of the Victorian Government’s commitment to implementing the recommendations of the
Betrayal of Trust report, there is a new regulatory landscape surrounding child safety, underpinned by new Child Safe Standards.
The Child Safe Standards are compulsory minimum standards for all Victorian schools, to ensure they are well prepared to protect children from abuse and neglect.
To create and maintain a child safe organisation, an entity to which the Child Safe Standards apply must have:
- strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including 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 personnel
- 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.
Meeting the Child Safe Standards
The Child Safe Standards will be implemented in two phases. To give schools time to prepare, schools have until 1 August 2016 to meet them.
Ministerial Order No. 870 sets out specific actions that registered schools need to take to meet the Child Safe Standards.
The purpose of the Child Safe Standards is not to impose an undue burden on organisations or regulators, and the initial focus of the Government will be on building the capacity of organisations, rather than on regulation and compliance.
The Department and the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) will provide information and support materials specifically for schools to assist with capacity building and compliance with the Ministerial Order.
Child Safe Readiness Tool
The VRQA has developed a
child safe readiness tool that allows schools to assess their current level of readiness to comply with the new requirements. Individual respondents using the tool cannot be identified.
The VRQA have now developed resources based on the outcomes of the readiness tool, to assist schools to meet the minimum standards.
VRQA staff are available if schools need any assistance with the readiness tool or with the resources. All are available on the VRQA website.
Current policies in schools
It is also recognised that many schools will have existing policies and procedures that aim to keep children safe. The Child Safe Standards provide a framework to identify gaps and improve policy and practices around child safety.
The VRQA will have responsibility for ensuring compliance with the Child Safe Standards in schools.
The introduction of the Child Safe Standards will not alter existing requirements to hold a Working with Children Check. The Department is working to develop a range of resources to support schools to meet their obligations by 1 August 2016. These resources will be online soon.
The VRQA are running Information Sessions to assist schools to meet the minimum standards by 1 August 2016. Fact sheets and checklists are now available on the VRQA website. The Department is developing further resources to build the capacity of schools to best protect children and young people from child abuse. This will include training, policy and procedural resources for schools and their staff, as well as a range of fact sheets and posters for parents and students.
For further information about the regulation of the Child Safe Standards in registered schools, please see
Childsafe on the VRQA website.
For further information and general support materials for organisations, please see
Child Safe Standards - Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS).
For any queries about the implementation of the Child Safe Standards in registered schools, please contact:
Early childhood services
Ministerial Order 870 does not apply to early childhood services. From 1 January 2016 all early childhood services operating under the National Quality Framework (NQF) and the
Children's Services Act 1996 have been required to meet the child safe standards.
The existing regulatory framework set out in the
Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 and the
Children's Service's Act 1996 will be used to regulate compliance with the child safety standards of services operating under those Acts.
The Child Safe Standards do not affect existing regulatory obligations, but aim to promote an increased focus on protecting children from abuse and neglect.
The Department’s Quality Assessment and Regulation Division (QARD) will have primary responsibility for ensuring compliance in the early childhood sector.
Although the Child Safe Standards formally commenced on 1 January 2016, there will be an initial focus on capacity building and support for organisations.
For early childhood this includes a training package for early childhood managers, supported by a series of forums across all Victorian regional areas.
Early childhood services operating under the National Quality Framework or the Children's Services Act 1996 should contact:
Further information for early childhood services operating under the National Quality Framework or
Children's Services Act 1996 is available on the
Child Safe Standards regulatory page, or by contacting:
Other organisations providing services for children can contact DHHS for further information: