Developing a child safety policy

Child Safe Standard 2 requires schools to develop and publicly communicate a  Child Safety Policy or Statement of Commitment to Child Safety.

Guidance for schools in developing their response

This guidance outlines what is required by schools for compliance with Ministerial Order 870 and provides further guidance on developing a school child safe policy.

Everyone in society has a moral responsibility to keep children safe and to protect them from harm. A Statement of Commitment to child safety helps raise awareness about the importance of child safety in the school and the community and affirms the organisation's commitment to child safety and expectations.

A child safe policy is an overarching document that provides key elements of an organisation’s approach for child safe environments.

 Preparing for compliance schools

In preparing for compliance schools are expected to:

  • develop a Statement of Commitment to child safety for your school
  • identify the actions the school proposes to take, per Standard 1, to put the school’s Statement of Commitment to child safety into effect and articulate the timeframe for this
  • determine the timeframes for the school governing authority to authorise the statement as well as the timeframes for informing the school community about the statement.

In preparing for compliance schools are encouraged to:

  • develop a child safe policy. This policy would include the Statement of Commitment to child safety as well as the tools the school uses to create a child safe school
  • note that schools will be required to demonstrate evidence of a full child safety policy (including a statement of commitment to child safety) from the 2017 school review process . The Department expects that all schools have such a policy in time for their school review.

Background

On 26 November 2015, the Victorian Parliament passed the Child Wellbeing and Safety Amendment (Child Safe Standards) Bill 2015 to introduce seven child safe standards (the Standards) into law. The Standards apply to all organisations involved in child-related work in Victoria.

Ministerial Order No. 870 provides the framework for how schools will be required to comply with the Standards. Overall responsibility for ensuring compliance rests with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA).

The Ministerial Order specifies the following requirements for schools regarding Standard 2: 

  1. The school governing authority must ensure that the school has a child safety policy or statement of commitment to child safety that details:
    • the values and principles that will guide the school in developing policies and procedures to create and maintain a child safe school environment
  2. The actions the school proposes to take to:
    • demonstrate its commitment to child safety and monitor the school's adherence to its child safety policy or statement of commitment:
    • support, encourage and enable school staff, parents, and children to understand, identify, discuss and report child safety matters; and support or assist children who disclose child abuse, or are otherwise linked to suspected child abuse
  3. The school governing authority must inform the school community about the policy or statement, and make the policy or statement publicly available.

Developing the school's Statement of Commitment to child safety

A Statement of Commitment to child safety describes the values and principles that will guide the school in developing procedures to create and maintain a child safe school environment, and protect children from child abuse. To view an example statement, see:

The example references the cross-cutting principles for the Standards, in particular that the school recognises different cohorts of students and their different values and needs. This includes the cultural safety, as well as the safety and wellbeing of, Aboriginal children, children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and children with a disability.

Developing a school policy on child safe environments - indicator of good practice

A school policy on child safe environments would typically include the Statement of Commitment to child safety and also include the policy elements the school uses to create a child safe school.

The policy may include the more detailed information, or cross-references to, other Standards such as:

  • the Code of Conduct
  • human resources and recruitment practices
  • procedures for reporting concerns
  • risk management strategy and procedures.

A high quality child safe environments policy will include sections relating to:

For detailed guidance on what a school child safe policy might include, see:

Sustaining and improving the school's commitment to child safety

There are a number of ways in which the school may demonstrate their continuing commitment to child safety, including:  

  • incorporating the Statement of Commitment and policy in ongoing staff, volunteer and contractor induction processes and maintain records of this process
  • enabling professional learning and training of staff to build deeper understandings of child safety and prevention of abuse at your school in line with your stated policy
  • using the Statement of Commitment and policy to shape school procedures and practice and inform other child safe related policies in the school (Social Media Policy, Child Protection - Reporting Obligations Policy)
  • ensuring regular and consistent communication which models the values and principles articulated in the Child Safe Policy
  • reviewing and updating the policy in response to emerging thinking, evidence and practice about the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Resources and references