Child Safe FAQ

What are the Child Safe Standards?

The Victorian government has introduced compulsory minimum child safe standards that apply from 1 January 2016 to all organisations providing regulated or funded services for children. The child safe standards form part of the Victorian Government’s response to the Betrayal of Trust Inquiry, which found that more must be done to prevent and respond to child abuse in our community.

The purpose of the child safe standards is to drive continuous improvement in the way organisations prevent child abuse, encourage reporting and improve responses to allegations of abuse. The child safe standards closely align with existing regulatory requirements for early childhood services and many services will already be taking steps to implement the standards.

In complying with the child safe standards, the following principles must be applied to each standard:

  • promoting the cultural safety of Aboriginal children
  • promoting the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • promoting the safety of children with a disability

The child safe standards are as follows:

  • Standard 1: Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements
  • Standard 2: A child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety
  • Standard 3: A code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children
  • Standard 4: Screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel
  • Standard 5: Processes 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 the participation and empowerment of children.

Guidance and information to assist services to understand the requirements of each of the child safe standards, is available on the Department of Health and Human Services website

Will the child safe standards apply to my service?

From 1 January 2016, the child safe standards apply to:

All education and care services approved under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 including:

  • Kindergartens/preschools
  • Long day care
  • Outside school hours care
  • Family day care
  • All children’s services licensed under the Children’s Services Act 1996 including:
    • Limited hours type 1 and type 2 services
    • School holiday care services
    • Short term services type 1 and type 2
    • Standard services.

A full list of in scope organisations is available on the Department of Health and Human Services website.

When did the Child Safe Standards come into effect?

For early childhood services, the child safe standards apply from 1 January 2016.

The initial focus will be on raising awareness and building capacity for organisations to create and maintain child safe environments.

How can my service meet the requirements of the child safe standards?

Many early childhood services may already be taking steps to meet the child safe standards through compliance with existing regulatory requirements. Early childhood services should consider how risks of child abuse are identified and reduced based on a range of factors unique to each service. A review of policies and practices may be required to ensure the requirements of the standards are met.

Services working to embed or improve the culture of child safety in their organisation should ensure leaders, staff and volunteers know and understand the organisation’s commitment to child safety, and can raise and respond to allegations of abuse.

Services must have:

  • a code of conduct which outlines clear expectations for how all staff and volunteers interact with children
  • a policy or statement of commitment to child safety
  • processes for responding to and reporting allegations of child abuse.

All services should review recruitment, screening and induction processes to ensure staff and volunteers are aware of relevant policies and are trained to minimise the risk of child abuse.

Simple and accessible processes will assist services to promote the participation and empowerment of all children, especially aboriginal children, children from culturally and or linguistically diverse backgrounds and children with a disability. All staff and volunteers need to have an awareness of children’s rights and adults’ responsibilities regarding child abuse.

Guidance material, tools and templates to help services protect children from abuse and meet the child safe standards are available at DHS Child Safe resources

The Guide for Creating a Child Safe Organisation, which helps organisations to assess and improve child safety and gives guidance to meet the child safe standards, is available from the Commission for Children and Young People website.