Final report now available

The Department of Health and Human Services has completed the review of the Victorian Child Safe Standards on behalf of the Victorian Government. The review’s final report is available here.

The review found:

  • Strong support for the existing Child Safe Standards and the current scope of organisations required to comply with them
  • Implementation of the Child Safe Standards was challenging but most organisations believe that the Standards help support a child safe culture
  • Strong support for aligning the Child Safe Standards with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations
  • Oversight and compliance of the Child Safe Standards needs to be strengthened.

The review makes 15 recommendations, which fall into three categories:

  • Amending the Victorian Child Safe Standards to align with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations
  • Amending the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 to more clearly define which organisations are required to comply with the Child Safe Standards, and who is responsible for regulating those organisations
  • Amending the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 to provide a consistent suite of compliance and enforcement tools to regulators.

The department is grateful to the many stakeholders, peak bodies, government departments and regulators who communicated information about the review and the public consultation to their networks, made written submissions and sought the views and experiences of the children and young people that they provide services to.

Completion of the review fulfils the Victorian Government’s commitment to review the Standards in 2018–19 to ensure they are as strong as possible, and to consider what adjustments may be needed to better align with the recommendations of the Commonwealth Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The Government has endorsed all 15 recommendations in the review’s final report.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

As a first step, the Victorian Government has committed to align Victoria’s Standards with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. Work will commence on updating the Standards as a first priority, with a focus on how best to retain the concept of child empowerment and maintain a distinct and explicit focus on cultural safety for Aboriginal children in aligning with the National Principles.

Amendment to the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 will occur at a later date.

Victoria’s Child Safe Standards are still law in Victoria and remain mandatory for organisations in accordance with the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic). Your organisation should keep building a child safe culture and keep complying with the Victorian Standards.

The Commission for Children and Young People continues to enforce compliance with the Victorian Standards. The Commission has published A Guide to Creating a Child Safe Organisation. If you would like further information about what you can do to support your organisation to build a child safe culture, you can download the guide here.

The department, other relevant authorities and the Commission for Children and Young People will communicate any changes to the Standards to peak bodies, organisations and other stakeholders. Organisations are encouraged to sign up to the Commission for Children and Young People’s website to hear more about implementation and receive updates: https://ccyp.vic.gov.au/contact-us/sign-up-for-commission-updates/

Once the revised Standards have been developed, the Minister for Child Protection will update the legislative instrument making the Standards and publish the new standards online and in the Victorian Government Gazette.

The review of the Child Safe Standards recommends at least 12 months for transition from Victoria’s Child Safe Standards to new updated Standards that reflect the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations.

In substance, Victoria’s Standards are closely aligned with the National Principles. The department, other relevant authorities and the Commission for Children and Young People will be working together to provide guidance and advice to assist organisations with making the transition.

The department, other relevant authorities and the Commission for Children and Young People will communicate to peak bodies, organisations and other stakeholders as changes occur. Organisations are encouraged to sign up to the Commission for Children and Young People’s website to hear more about implementation and receive updates: https://ccyp.vic.gov.au/contact-us/sign-up-for-commission-updates/

Once the revised Standards have been developed, the Minister for Child Protection will update the legislative instrument making the Standards and publish the new standards online and in the Victorian Government Gazette.

The priority is updating Victoria’s Standards to align with the National Principles. Other recommendations will require legislative change, which will be progressed after the Standards are updated.

The Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Act) requires all ‘relevant entities’ (organisations) that are identified in Schedules 1 and 2 to the Act to comply with the Standards unless one or more of the exemptions in section 22 of the Act apply to that organisation.

Organisations providing services or facilities specifically for, or employing, children or young people in Victoria must comply with the Standards. A list of the types of organisations required to comply with the Standards is available here at the CCYP website: https://ccyp.vic.gov.au/child-safety/being-a-child-safe-organisation/the-child-safe-standards/who-do-the-standards-apply-to/

An organisation is exempt from complying with the Standards if it does not do any of the following –

  • provide any services specifically for children
  • provide any facilities specifically for use by children who are under the [organisation’s] supervision
  • engage a child as a contractor, employee or volunteer to assist the [organisation] in providing services or facilities or in producing or providing goods.

Contact the Commission for Children and Young People if you have questions about whether your organisation should be complying with the Standards.

Victoria’s Child Safe Standards are still law in Victoria and remain mandatory for organisations in accordance with the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic). In substance, Victoria’s Standards are closely aligned with the National Principles. The Commission for Children and Young People continues to enforce compliance with the Victorian Standards. If you have any questions about the Victorian Standards and the National Principles you can contact the Commission.

The Council of Australian Governments, including Victoria, endorsed the National Principles on 1 February 2019. The National Principles embed the child safe standards recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission).

The Australian Government has committed to require organisations it funds to undertake child related work to adopt the National Principles. These obligations do not apply to funded organisations automatically. The requirements will only apply if they are included in your organisations written funding agreement: https://pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/faqs-grants-and-procurement.pdf

Victoria’s Child Safe Standards are still law in Victoria and remain mandatory for organisations in accordance with the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic). The Commission for Children and Young People continues to enforce compliance with the Victorian Standards. In substance, Victoria’s Standards are closely aligned with the National Principles.

Organisations are encouraged to contact the Commission for Children and Young People if they are concerned about the differences between the National Principles and the Standards and want to check that any action they are taking will support them to remain compliant with the Victorian Standards.

The National Office for Child Safety is leading national coordination and implementation of the National Principles, working with state and territory governments, and non-government sectors, to make organisations across Australia safe for children.

This includes coordinating the development of a range of national resources and practical tools to inform organisations, children and parents and carers about the National Principles and support implementation across all sectors.

Information, tools and resources, including in ten community languages, are available via the National Office website.

Consultation summary

The summary of consultations conducted for the review of the Victorian Child Safe Standards is now available below.

The Department of Health and Human Services is grateful to the many stakeholders, peak bodies, government departments and regulators who communicated information about the review and the public consultation to their networks. We thank the people who made written submissions and sought the views and experiences of the children and young people that they provide services to.

We heard from a large variety of organisations – some large organisations with sophisticated bureaucracies such as schools, municipal councils, health services and youth justice services; others are small providers including parent-led playgroups, photography services for children or volunteer sporting groups.

The input received greatly enriched the breadth and depth of evidence received by the review.

Overview

The Child Safe Standards (Standards) apply to all Victorian organisations that provide services or facilities for children or employ children or young people. The Standards are a compulsory framework that support organisations to be safer for children. The Standards require organisations to implement policies and procedures to make sure that the safety of children is promoted and to prevent, respond to and report allegations of child abuse. The Standards aim to embed the protection of children from abuse in the everyday thinking and practice of leaders, staff and volunteers.

The department is undertaking a review of the Standards to ensure that they are as strong as possible.

This review will also provide valuable evidence about Victoria’s experience in implementing and regulating the Standards. This will inform ongoing work in developing a nationally consistent approach to child safe standards in Australia.

Survey

Q1. What best describes your interest in the review of the Victorian child safe standards?

*This survey is designed to be completed by organisations, peak bodies, staff, parents, other stakeholders and children aged 16 or above.

You have 50 characters left.
Q3. Were you aware of Victoria's child safe standards before this consultation process?
Q4. Do you have a good understanding of the child safe standards?
Q5. How did you find out about the child safe standards?
Q6. Please rate the degree to which you agree or disagree with the following statements.
Strongly agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly disagree
Don't know
The child safe standards are easy to understand.
The child safe standards are easy to implement.
The organisation I am involved with has implemented the child safe standards.
The organisation I am involved with is applying the child safe standards effectively
The child safe standards have led to improved child safety in the organisation I am involved with.
Q7. Do the child safe standards support the organisation you are involved with to create a safe environment for:
Strongly agree
Agree
Disagree
Strongly disagree
Don't know
Aboriginal children
Culturally and/or linguistically diverse children
Children with a disability
You have 500 characters left.

1 star = Not child safe at all, 10 stars = Extremely child safe

You have 500 characters left.
You have 500 characters left.

The survey form is now closed. Thanks for your contributions.

Privacy collection notice

The Department of Health and Human Services (the department) is committed to protecting your privacy. Sharing your views through the Engage survey and submission process will contribute to the review of Victoria’s child safe standards and will help the department ensure that the standards are as strong as possible in supporting organisations to be safer for children.

The department asks that when you participate in the survey and provide a submission that you do not include any personal information or health information unless you have consented via the Engage website to your submission being identifiable when quoted or published as part of the review. Please note that you can provide your contact details separately to the review team on the Engage website so that you can be advised of the outcome of the consultation. You may access the personal information that you provide to the department.

The department can be contacted on cssreview@dhhs.vic.gov.au or you may contact the department’s Information Sharing and Privacy team by emailing privacy@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

For more information on the department’s collection, use and disclosure of personal information, please refer to the department’s privacy policy through our website: https://dhhs.vic.gov.au/publications/privacy-policy