The Victorian Government has announced new Child Safe Standards (Standards) that will come into effect on 1 July 2022.
The eleven new Standards will replace Victoria’s current seven standards and principles. They set out minimum requirements and outline the actions organisations must take to keep children and young people safe.
Key changes include new requirements:
- to involve families and communities in organisations’ efforts to keep children and young people safe
- for a greater focus on safety for Aboriginal children and young people
- to manage the risk of child abuse in online environments
- for greater clarity on the governance, systems and processes to keep children and young people safe.
The Standards are changing to provide more consistency with Standards in the rest of Australia and to strengthen protection from child abuse.
Victoria has had mandatory Child Safe Standards since January 2016.
In 2017, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission) recommended that a new version of child safe standards be adopted by each Australian state and territory.
In 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) undertook a review of the Victorian Standards to ensure they were as strong as possible and to consider how they could better align with the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
Now the Government has announced the new Standards, with organisations having until 1 July 2022 to implement changes.
A full version of the new Standards can be found here. An overview is provided below:
Organisations establish a culturally safe environment in which the diverse and unique identities and experiences of Aboriginal children and young people are respected and valued
- Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture
- Children and young people are empowered about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously
- Families and communities are informed, and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing
- Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice
- People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice
- Processes for complaints and concerns are child focused
- Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training
- Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed
- Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is regularly reviewed and improved
- Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.
The Commission has produced initial guidance to assist organisations to understand the new Standards:
It’s time to get to know the new Standards and what is different, and to start planning the changes your organisation needs to make by 1 July 2022.
Until then, you must continue to comply with the current Standards.