The Victorian government has made it abundantly clear that children have the right to be safe and protected, including at school. Child abuse and arrangements that allow it to occur will not be tolerated.
New Child Safe Standards commenced in Victoria on 1 January 2016. Schools have until 1 August 2016 to introduce and comply with the Standards.
To create and maintain a child safe organisation, schools must implement the seven key actions set out in Ministerial Order No. 870.
It is important to note that, although not immediately evident from the Standards, the Standards are also intended to operate to protect the welfare of students outside traditional school hours. In particular, activities that may place additional responsibilities on schools include:
- Excursions and school camps outside school hours;
- Before- or after-school care programs;
- Student work experience programs;
- Co-curricular activities such as sport, music and drama activities outside school hours or at another location;
- Boarding school or other school residential facilities or campuses for students;
- Enrolment of overseas students living with local host families;
- Arrangements for ‘sister school’ student visits and/or secondary student exchange programs arranged by the school.
The Standards require much more than just another policy. They require significant cultural change from the top down within schools relating to child safety.