Child Safe Standards commenced in Victoria on 1 January 2016. The Standards introduce significant regulatory change into Victorian schools at all levels of school governance. Schools have until 1 August 2016 to introduce and comply with the Standards.
The Standards have been introduced pursuant to Ministerial Order 870, which outlines the expectations of schools in relation to compliance. In summary, the Standards require the following of Victorian schools:
- 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 working 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.
The Standards impose strict legal obligations on schools under the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic) and compliance is a requirement for registration on 1 August 2016. This means, a failure to comply could lead to de-registration of a school.
The Standards require much more than just another policy. They require significant cultural and operational change within schools relating to child safety.
To assist Victorian non-government schools to understand and comply with the Standards in conjunction with existing policies and procedures, the Education Industry team at FCB Workplace Law are offering “Child Safety Audits” to schools to identify swift practical steps that can be taken to ensure compliance with the Child Safe Standards by 1 August 2016.