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Overview

Organisations providing services or facilities specifically for children in Victoria are required to meet Child Safe Standards.

Under Victorian law children have the right to feel safe and be safe all of the time. This includes when they access services and participate in activities in their community. Children have a right to be heard, particularly on matters that affect them – including how to keep them safe.

Why do we need Child Safe Standards?

Child Safe Standards are designed to:

  • drive cultural change and embed a focus on child safety by placing children’s rights at the forefront of the organisation’s mind
  • avoid scope for doubt and indecision, which can lead to inaction and tolerance of poor behaviour
  • provide a foundation upon which an organisation’s policies and practices can be built
  • enable staff and volunteers to feel empowered to act in the best interests of children when they have safety concerns
  • give parents comfort and confidence in the kind of culture, environment and experience they can expect for their child
  • benefit the organisation as it gains valuable information about how children experience its organisation.

Organisations cannot assume that child abuse does not, and cannot, happen within their organisation. All organisations working with children must take steps to prevent abuse. The Child Safe Standards have been developed based on the evidence of what works to prevent child abuse.

Children’s rights need to be respected, their views welcomed and valued and their concerns taken seriously and acted upon.
Everyone who works in the organisation has a role to play – the board, executive, leadership group, employees, volunteers, students and sub-contractors – but they need to understand their roles and be supported to take action.

What does a child safe organisation look like?

Generally a child safe organisation:

  • has a visible culture of child safety that is part of everyday practice
  • has strong leadership driving a culture of child safety
  • has the safety of children as its prime consideration
  • has well-articulated policies and procedures to implement its child safe approach
  • actively encourages participation, empowerment and serves to protect children
  • has actively considered risks of abuse within the organisation
  • engages with children to create a child safe environment and empowers children to speak up if something is wrong
  • has inclusive approaches for children with a disability, Aboriginal children and children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds.

To find out more about each of the Child Safe Standards visit the Standards page.

Background

In April 2012, the Victorian Government commenced an inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other non-government organisations.

The inquiry’s final report, Betrayal of Trust, was tabled in Parliament on 13 November 2013 and contained 15 recommendations.
In responding to the recommendations in 2014, the Victorian Government committed to introducing Child Safe Standards for organisations with direct and regular contact with children. Other recommendations of the inquiry related to the implementation of a reportable conduct scheme  and new criminal laws.

The Victorian Government stated that the purpose of the standards is to drive cultural change and embed a focus on child safety at the heart of agencies that provide services for children and young people – changing the very culture that led to abuse going unnoticed, disbelieved and unchallenged.

More information