All Victorian organisations that provide services or facilities to children are required by law to comply with the Child Safe Standards.
The Human Services Regulator within the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing plays an important role in regulating human services to minimise harm and to protect the safety and rights of children, young people and adults. As part of this role and in line with the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005, the Human Services Regulator oversees and promotes compliance by department funded or regulated organisations with the Child Safe Standards. The Human Services Regulator has adopted a risk-based regulatory approach to assessing compliance, which is consistent with the department's Better Regulatory Practice Framework.
What are 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.
This will assist organisations to:
- Promote the safety of children
- Prevent child abuse
- Ensure effective processes are in place to respond to and report allegations of child abuse
- Encourage children to ‘have a say’, especially on issues that are important to them or about decisions that affect their lives.
As part of each standard, organisations must reflect and embed the following overarching principles:
- Promoting the cultural safety of Aboriginal children
- Promoting the cultural safety of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
- Promoting the safety of children with a disability.
The 7 Standards are as follows:
- Strategies to embed a culture of child safety through effective leadership arrangements.
- A child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety.
- A code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children
- Screening, supervision, training, and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing staff
- Processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse.
- Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse.
- Strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.
Review of Victoria’s Child Safe Standards
In December 2019, the previous Department of Health and Human Services published its review of the Victorian Child Safe Standards. The Victorian Government endorsed all 15 of the review’s recommendations.
Following the review, new Child Safe Standards will be introduced on 1 July 2022. The new Standards will implement five of the review recommendations. A further eight recommendations will be implemented through legislative amendments passed by Parliament in 2021, to improve the regulatory framework for the Standards. The remaining two recommendations can be implemented administratively.
Transition to new Child Standards
In-scope organisations have 12 months to transition to the new Standards, which come into effect on 1 July 2022. Until then, the current Standards (see ‘What are the Child Safe Standards?’ above) continue to apply.
In the coming months, the Commission for Children and Young People and the Human Services Regulator will provide further information and guidance to support organisations to comply with the new Standards by 1 July 2022. For more information, please see the Commission’s Child Safety webpage or sign up for their email alerts.
To help organisations to understand the requirements of the Child Safe Standards, we have developed a number of resources for our funded and/or regulated organisations, see Resources for Child Safe Standards.
All organisations may also refer to the information and resources available on the Commission for Children and Young People website