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 Human Services Regulator within the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing oversees this important safeguard for children in out-of-home care 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
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.
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.
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 they are registered within 14 days of their appointment.
The registration requirements of the Victorian Carer Register apply to a specific subset of ‘out-of-home carers.’ Please refer to An Overview of the Victorian Carer Register Process document for further details and definitions, including who is in scope of these requirements.
Allegations of physical or sexual abuse by a registered out-of-home carer against a child placed in their care must be reported to the Secretary once the person in charge is reasonably satisfied that an investigation of the allegation by the Secretary is warranted. This is known as a section 81 or section 82 Report of Abuse.
For responses to frequently asked questions to support out-of-home care services to comply with the reporting requirements refer to s81 reporting – the benefits and key considerations.
To make a report to the department refer to Section 81/82 report abuse form
These reports are made in addition to:
- Victoria Police
- Client incident management guide (CIMS) (word) and Client incident management guide addendum out of home care (word)
- Reportable Conduct Scheme
Carers under investigation
When a report is received 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 and
- that the Human Services Regulator is reviewing available evidence so a determination can be made as to whether to authorise an independent investigation.
For answers to frequently asked questions by out-of-home carers who are under investigation refer to the Factsheet for out-of-home carers (Word).
Following a report under section 81 or 82 of the Act, the Secretary will determine whether an independent investigation is warranted.
Further 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).
For information, including the responsibilities of child protection and out-of-home care services during the independent investigation process, refer to the Carer Investigation Factsheet - 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 has physically or sexually abused the child and considers that the person poses an unacceptable risk of harm to children.
A podcast is available about the Suitability Panel. The Foster Carer Association of Victoria (FCAV) speak with the Director, Human Services Regulator and the Chairperson of the Suitability Panel, who provide:
- information about the process and role Suitability Panel plays within the system and
- insight into what happens following a referral to the Suitability Panel and the right of a carer.
The Victorian Carer Register eLearning module will assist out-of-home care services understand and comply with their statutory obligations under Part 3.4 of the Act, including the regulatory framework for the registration, reporting, investigation and disqualification of out-of-home carers.
Client Incident Management System and Reportable Conduct Scheme
Allegations of physical or sexual abuse reported to the department under section 81 or section 82 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, for possible investigation and potential exclusion of the out-of-home carer from the Victorian Carer Register, may also need to be reported under the Client Incident Management System (CIMS) or Reportable Conduct Scheme (RCS).
The previous Department of Health and Human Services and the Commission for Children and Young People have developed guidance material for service providers on undertaking investigations in these circumstances.
This guidance is available on the Incident and allegation investigations page of the Department of Health and Human Services website.
Child Safe Standards
All Victorian organisations that provide services or facilities to children are required by law to comply with the Child Safe Standards.
The Child Safe Standards are comprised of three overarching principles and seven broad standards. These have been designed to drive cultural change in organisations, so that protecting children from abuse is embedded in the everyday thinking and practice of leaders, staff and volunteers.
For further information about the Victorian Carer Register please see the Related Resources section below.