Student Sexual Offending
Student sexual offending refers to sexual behaviour that is led by a student who is over 10 years of age and which may amount to a sexual offence.
A sexual offence includes rape, sexual assault, indecent acts and other unwanted sexualised touching, all of which are offences under the Crimes Act 1958. There are many sexual offences that may amount to student sexual offending. Some of these are explained below:
'Sexual assault' refers to circumstances where:
- A person (A) intentionally touches another person (B)
- the touching is sexual
- B does not consent to the touching, and
- A does not reasonably believe that B consents to the touching.
Rape is the intentional sexual penetration by the penis, finger or an object, of the vagina, mouth or anus of another person without that person’s consent, and refers to circumstances where:
- A person (A) intentionally sexually penetrates another person (B)
- B does not consent to the penetration, and
- A does not reasonably believe that B consents to the penetration.
A person must not wilfully commit, or wilfully take part in an indecent act with a child under the age of 16, or in their presence.
In the context of student sexual offending this relates to indecent acts where the student engaging in the offence:
- is more than 2 years older than the child and
- cannot demonstrate a belief on reasonable grounds that the child was aged 16 or older.
Support roles within the Department
Within the Department of Education and Training, there are a number of supports available to Victorian government schools responding to incidents, disclosures or suspicions of child abuse, including:
Security Services Unit (SSU)
The Security Services Unit provides a 24-hour communications centre for schools and Departmental staff to report a range of incidents. On receiving notification of an incident involving child abuse the Security Services Unit immediately alerts the Student Incident and Recovery Unit (SIRU) and relevant staff within the Central and Regional Office.
Principals of Victorian government schools are required to maintain on-going contact with their Regional Office throughout any incidents, disclosures or suspicions of child abuse.
Each region has an emergency management contact/s. These officers can provide initial advice and support to Victorian government schools during and after incidents, and assists schools to minimise the effects of trauma and enhance recovery.
Student Incident and Recovery Unit (SIRU)
The Student Incident and Recovery Unit (SIRU) works with Victorian Government schools following incidents of a sexual nature to ensure appropriate advice and supports are in place that prioritise the health and wellbeing of the children involved. The SIRU is notified by the Security Services Unit as soon as an incident involving sexual abuse (or problem sexual behaviour) is reported.
The SIRU will:
- provide timely and appropriate advice to Victorian Government schools
- support regions and Victorian Government schools to respond to critical incidents of a sexual nature
- advise Victorian Government schools to meet their legal obligations and duty of care responsibilities
- assist Principals and senior school staff from Victorian Government schools to manage incidents of a sexual nature in a manner that ensures adverse impact on the school community is minimised
- monitor the progress of school management of such incidents
- provide advice on appropriate response measures, such as counselling and management strategies to support those involved in allegations of sexual offending or problem sexual behaviour
- provide advice on the provision of a suitable level of support to school staff and members of the school community on whom the incident has impacted
The SIRU works closely with other key agencies, such as Victoria Police SOCIT and the DHHS, and with organisations such as the Centre against Sexual Assault (CASA) to support student wellbeing in Victorian Government schools.
Student Support Services
The role of the Student Support Services (SSS) is to provide support to Victorian Government schools including:
- establishing a relationship with students and possibly their families
- providing a supportive, calm approach and acknowledging the issues raised
- clarifying the needs of the child
- evaluating the child's present strengths and resources
- evaluating possible ways of accommodating the child's identified needs, such as referral for specialist counselling and school-based supports
- documenting information and actions
- identifying the process for follow up and review
- ascertaining which intervention programs are most appropriate in meeting an individual child's needs
- working with the school staff on the appropriate strategies and supports needed for individual children
Employee Conduct Branch
The Employee Conduct Branch is responsible for the implementation of policy and the provision of advice on complaint resolution procedures, unsatisfactory performance, serious misconduct (which would include allegations of child abuse), equal opportunity complaints, managing appeals against disciplinary action, criminal records checks and police liaison, as it relates to Victorian Government school and DET employees.
The branch also manages discipline matters involving members of the teaching service (including Principal Class Officers), Student Support Services and public servants. A key role of the branch is to support Principals or designated officers in their management of processes, and provide advice to them concerning legislative and procedural frameworks.
The Employee Conduct Branch must be contacted on all issues of alleged serious misconduct including allegations of child abuse and grooming which involve a staff member employed by the Department. This includes teachers and Principals.
The Department's Legal Division provides specific advice to government school Principals in relation to incidents, disclosures and suspicions of child abuse.
The Departments' Communications Division manages all Departmental media liaison, and can support Principals of Victorian government schools in responding to media enquiries relating to incidents, disclosures and suspicions of child abuse.
Support roles within Catholic Education
Within Catholic education, there are a number of supports available to schools when responding to incidents, disclosures or suspicions of child abuse. Catholic schools should contact their Diocesan education office for support and advice.
- Archdiocese of Melbourne: Student Wellbeing Information Line on (03) 9267 0228
- Diocese of Sale: Child Protection Officer on (03) 5622 6600
- Diocese of Ballarat: Child Safety on (03) 5337 7135
- Diocese of Sandhurst: Child Protection Officer on (03) 5443 2377
Roles of other relevant authorities
DHHS Child Protection
Children Youth and Families Act 2005 the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has a responsibility to provide child protection services for all children and young people under the age of 17 years, or where a protection order is in place, for children under the age of 18.
The main functions of DHHS Child Protection are to:
- receive reports from people who believe that a child is in need of protection or have significant concerns about the wellbeing of a child
- provide consultation and advice to people making reports
- investigate matters where it is believed that a child is at risk of significant harm
- refer children and families to services that assist in providing for the ongoing safety and wellbeing of children.
DHHS Child Protection will also intervene and bring cases before the Children's Court if a child’s safety cannot be managed without intervention. DHHS Child Protection has a responsibility to provide adequate supervision, care and protection for children in accordance with orders granted by the Children's Court.
Child and Family Information, Referral and Support Teams (Child FIRST) were introduced to give families an opportunity to obtain family services earlier at their own request or following a referral from others, including school staff.
Child FIRST is staffed by family services practitioners who are experienced in assessing the needs of vulnerable children and their families. Child FIRST teams work closely with community-based DHHS Child Protection workers.
The role of Child FIRST includes:
- providing a point of entry to a local network of family services
- receiving reports about vulnerable children where there are significant concerns about their wellbeing
- undertaking an initial identification and assessment of the risks to the child and the child’s needs in consultation with DHHS Child Protection and other services
- identifying appropriate service responses for families.
Both DHHS and Victoria Police have statutory responsibilities under the
Children Youth and Families Act 2005 in relation to the protection of children. DHHS Child Protection is the lead agency responsible for the care and protection of children, while Victoria Police is responsible for criminal investigations into alleged child abuse.
Members of Victoria Police are protective interveners and mandatory reporters under the
Children, Youth and Families Act 2005. The predominant role of police in child abuse incidents is to detect and investigate alleged child physical and sexual abuse and to initiate legal proceedings where appropriate, against the alleged offender/s.
The key responsibilities of Victoria Police in relation to child abuse are to:
- ensure all police members are aware of relevant legislation and their responsibilities
- ensure all police accept and carry out their responsibilities under the Act
- conduct all investigations on the basis that the safety and welfare of the child are paramount
- plan investigations in collaboration with other, relevant agencies
- work with other agencies in accordance with agreed work practices
- provide information to other, relevant agencies
- provide training for staff, and, jointly, with relevant agencies.
Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams (SOCIT) have been established to ensure that appropriately trained and qualified police officers are available to respond to and investigate allegations of child abuse and sexual offences.
Counselling and Support Organisations
The Centre Against Sexual Assault
There are 15 Centres Against Sexual Assault, who work to ensure that women, children and men who are victim/survivors of sexual offending have access to comprehensive and timely support and intervention to address their needs.
http://www.casa.org.au/ Phone: 1800 806 292
Gatehouse Centre, Royal Children's Hospital
Provides support and assistance to children and young people affected by sexual offending or problem sexual behaviours
Children's Protection Society
Provide advice and support to children and families to help them break out of the cycle of abuse, neglect, poverty and disadvantage through a creative portfolio of programs, resources and services.
http://www.cps.org.au/ Phone: (03) 9450 0900
Australian Childhood Foundation
Provide recognised programs that counsel and support children to recovery, help professionals who work with children to better support at risk children and raise awareness of the causes and consequences of abuse.
http://www.childhood.org.au/home/ Phone: 1800 176 453
Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service
The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service Co-operative Limited provides legal advice and representation for the Koorie community
http://www.vals.org.au Phone: (03) 9322 3555 or country toll free on 1800 015 188
Child Wise is Australia's leading international child protection charity committed to the prevention and reduction of sexual abuse and exploitation of children around the world.
http://www.childwise.org.au/ Phone: (03) 9695 8900
Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services
Provides assistance to victims of family violence and sexual offending and to work with families and communities affected by violence.
24 Hour Services
- Victoria Police - 000
- Department of Health and Human Services Child Protection - 131 278
- Department of Education and Training Security Services Unit - (03) 9589 6266
Department of Education and Training
- Security Services Unit - (03) 9589 6266
- Student Incident and Recovery Unit - (03) 9637 2934 or (03) 9637 2487
- Legal Division - (03) 9637 3146
- Employee Assistance Program - 1300 361 008
- Employee Health - (03) 9637 2395
- Employee Conduct Branch - (03) 9637 2595
- Privacy Unit - (03) 9637 3601
- International Division - (03) 9651 3976
- Communications Division - (03) 9637 2871
North Eastern Victoria
- General enquiries: 1300 333 231
- Benalla office: (03) 8392 9500
- Glen Waverley office: (03) 8392 9300
North Western Victoria
- Bendigo office: (03) 5440 3111
- Coburg office: (03) 9488 9488
South Eastern Victoria
- Dandenong office: (03) 8765 5600
- Moe office: (03) 5127 0400
South Western Victoria
- General enquiries: 1300 333 232
- Ballarat office: (03) 5337 8444
- Footscray office: (03) 8397 0300
- Geelong office: (03) 5225 1000
- Horsham office: (03) 5310 5300
- Warrnambool office: 1300 333 232
- Archdiocese of Melbourne: (03) 9267 028
- Office of Professional Conduct, Ethics & Investigation
- Legal Services
- Student Wellbeing Information Line
- Communications & Marketing Unit (Media Advisor)
- Diocese of Sale: (03) 5622 6600
- Diocese of Ballarat: (03) 5337 7135
- Diocese of Sandhurst: (03) 5443 2377
Department of Health and Human Services Child Protection
|Northern and western suburban LGAs||Banyule, Brimbank, Darebin, Hobsons Bay, Hume, Maribyrnong, Melbourne, Melton, Moonee Valley, Moreland, Nillumbik, Whittlesea, Wyndham, Yarra||1300 664 977|
|Eastern suburban LGAs||Boroondara, Knox, Manningham, Maroondah, Monash, Whitehorse, Yarra Ranges||1300 360 391|
|Southern suburban LGAs||Bayside, Cardinia, Casey, Frankston, Glen Eira, Greater Dandenong, Kingston, Mornington Peninsula, Port Phillip, Stonnington||1300 655 795|
|West Rural and Regional LGSs||Ararat, Ballarat, Golden Plains, Hepburn, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Moorabool, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, West Wimmera, Yarriambiack, Colac-Otway, Corangamite, Glenelg, Greater Geelong, Moyne, Queenscliffe, Southern Grampians, Surf Coast, Warrnambool||1800 075 599|
|North-western rural and regional LGAs||Buloke, Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Gannawarra, Greater Bendigo, Loddon, Macedon Ranges, Mildura, Mount Alexander, Swan Hill||1800 675 598|
|North-eastern rural and regional LGAS ||Alpine, Benalla, Greater Shepparton, Indigo, Mansfield, Mitchell, Moira, Murrindindi, Strathbogie, Towong, Wangaratta, Wodonga||1800 650 227|
|Eastern and south-eastern rural and regional LGAs||Bass Coast, Baw Baw, East Gippsland, Latrobe, South Gippsland, Wellington||1800 020 202|
|Alpine - 1800 705 211
Ararat - 1300 783 341
Ballarat - 1300 783 341
Banyule - (03) 9450 0955
Bass Coast - (03) 5662 5150
Baw Baw - 1800 339 100
Bayside - 1300 367 441
Benalla - 1800 705 211
Boroondara - 1300 762 125
Brimbank - 1300 138 180
Buloke - 1300 665 218
Campaspe - 1800 260 338
Cardinia - (03) 9705 3939
Cardinia - Aboriginal children & families - (03) 9794 5973
Casey (03) 9705 3939
Casey - Aboriginal children & families - (03) 9794 5973
Central Goldfields - 1800 260 338
Colac-Otway - (03) 5232 5500
Corangamite - (03) 5232 5500
Darebin - (03) 9450 0955
East Gippsland - (03) 5152 0052
Frankston - 1300 721 383
Gannawarra - 1300 665 218
Glen Eira - 1300 367 441
Glenelg - 1300 543 779
Golden Plains - 1300 783 341
Greater Bendigo - 1800 260 338
Greater Dandenong - (03) 9705 3939
Greater Dandenong - Aboriginal children & families - (03) 9794 5973
Greater Geelong - 1300 551 948
Greater Shepparton - 1300 854 944
Hepburn - 1300 783 341
Hindmarsh - 1800 195 114
Hobson's Bay - 1300 775 160
Horsham - 1800 195 114
Hume - 1300 786 433
Indigo - 1800 705 211
Kingston - 1300 367 441
Knox - 1300 369 146
La Trobe - 1800 339 100
|Loddon - 1800 260 338
Macedon Ranges - 1800 260 338
Manningham - 1300 762 125
Mansfield - 1800 705 211
Maribyrnong - 1300 775 160
Maroondah - 1300 369 146
Melbourne - 1300 775 160
Melton - 1300 138 180
Mildura - 1300 625 533
Mitchell - 1800 663 107
Moira - 1300 854 944
Monash - 1300 762 125
Moonee Valley - 1300 775 160
Moorabool - 1300 783 341
Moreland - 1300 786 433
Mornington Peninsula - 1300 721 383
Mount Alexander - 1800 260 338
Moyne - 1300 543 779
Murrundindi - 1800 663 107
Nillumbik - (03) 9450 0955
Northern Grampians - 1800 195 114
Port Phillip - 1300 367 441
Pyrenees - 1300 783 341
Queenscliff - 1300 551 948
South Gippsland - (03) 5662 5150
Southern Grampians - 1300 543 779
Stonnington - 1300 367 441
Strathbogie - 1300 854 944
Surf Coast - 1300 551 948
Swan Hill - 1300 665 218
Towong - 1800 705 211
Wangaratta - 1800 705 211
Warrnambool - 1300 543 779
Wellington - (03) 5144 7777
West Wimmera - 1800 195 114
Whitehorse - 1300 762 125
Whittlesea - (03) 9450 0955
Wodonga - 1800 705 211
Wyndham - 1300 775 160
Yarra - (03) 9450 0955
Yarra Ranges - 1300 369 146
Yarriambiak - 1800 195 114