Part 3.4 of the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 (the Act) establishes the regulatory framework for the registration, reporting, investigation and disqualification of out-of-home carers.
The Victorian Carer Register is a web-based application established to enable the Secretary of the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (department) to keep a register of out-of-home carers as required under section 80 of the Act. The Secretary of the department has delegated their powers in relation to section 80 of the act to the Human Services Regulator. The Human Services Regulator oversees the administration of the Victorian Carer Register as part of its role in regulating human services to minimise harm and to protect the safety and rights of children, young people and adults.
Disqualified carer checks
Registered out-of-home care services must check if a person is disqualified from the Victorian Carer Register before they have contact with children in out-of-home care. This is done by completing a disqualified carer check via the Victorian Carer Register.
Failure to undertake a disqualified carer check may result in the registered out-of-home care service being penalised under the provisions of section 120 of the Act.
Carer registration requirements
Registered out-of-home care service providers must:
- Complete a Disqualified Carer Check before employing or engaging an out-of-home carer, or approving a foster carer
- Ensure the carer is registered in the Victorian Carer Register within 14 days of their appointment.
Registration requirements for the Victorian Carer Register apply to a specific set of out-of-home carers. Please refer to Overview of the Victorian Carer Register Process (Word) document for further details and definitions, including who is in scope of these requirements.
Accessing the Victorian Carer Register
A service must meet the following criteria to be in-scope of the Victorian Carer Register:
- be a registered out-of-home care service under the Act, and;
- have a Service Agreement in place or underway with the department to provide out-of-home care services to children under the Act
- is engaging, employing or approving in scope out-of-home carers
If you are a service provider requiring access to the Victorian Carer Register, please email email@example.com.
The Victorian Carer Register eLearning module will assist out-of-home care services to understand and comply with their statutory obligations under Part 3.4 of the Act. The eLearning module includes the regulatory framework for the registration, reporting, investigation and disqualification of out-of-home carers.
When the person in charge of a registered out-of-home care service is reasonably satisfied that an investigation by the Secretary is warranted, allegations of physical or sexual abuse by an out-of-home carer against a child in the care of the service must be reported under section 81 or 82 of the Act. A section 81 or 82 report may lead to an independent investigation of the allegation and potential exclusion from the Victorian Carer Register.
For support in complying with section 81 or 82 reporting requirements, refer to s81 reporting – the benefits and key considerations (Word).
To make a report to the department refer to Section 81/82 report abuse form (Word).
In addition to making a section 81 or 82 report, a registered out-of-home care service is required to:
- report allegations of criminal conduct to Victoria Police
- report incidents through the client incident management system (CIMS)
- report allegations to the Reportable Conduct Scheme (RCS)
The Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP) have also developed guidance material for service providers in relation to the RCS which can be accessed on the CCYP website.
For information on conducting joint CIMS and RCS investigations, see the department’s Incident and Investigations webpage.
Carers under investigation
When a section 81 or 82 report is accepted by the Human Services Regulator, the carer subject to the allegation is considered to be `under investigation’. The carer is advised in writing as soon as practical:
- that a report of an allegation/s has been received
- the type of alleged abuse in the allegation/s, and
- that the Human Services Regulator is reviewing all available evidence so that a determination can be made as to whether an independent investigation is warranted.
For out-of-home carers who are under investigation, refer to the Factsheet for out-of-home carers (Word).
Should the Human Services Regulator determine that an allegation is to be investigated, an authorised investigator will be appointed to undertake an investigation. Authorised investigators are independent of the department, the carer, and the out-of-home care service.
Information about reporting allegations to the Secretary and the process undertaken to investigate those allegations, refer to Reporting allegations of abuse by registered out-of-home carers (Word).
Information, including the responsibilities of child protection and out-of-home care services during the independent investigation process, refer to Information for out-of-home care services and child protection (Word).
An out-of-home carer will be disqualified from being registered on the Victorian Carer Register if the Suitability Panel determines that the person poses an unacceptable risk of harm to children.
Please listen to the Suitability Panel Podcast. The Foster Carer Association of Victoria (FCAV) speaks with the Director, Human Services Regulator and the Chairperson of the Suitability Panel, who provide:
- information about the process and role the Suitability Panel plays within the system, and
- insight into what happens following a referral to the Suitability Panel and the right of a carer.
Child Safe Standards
All Victorian organisations that provide services or facilities to children are required by law to comply with the Child Safe Standards. Failure to undertake a Disqualified Carer Check places a service at risk of being in contravention of the Child Safe Standards.
There are 11 Child Safe Standards which commenced on 1 July 2022 to replace the Child Safe Standards that were established in 2016. The Child Safe Standards aim to protect children and young people, by requiring organisations to put policies, procedures and processes in place to prevent and respond to abuse.