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The Commission promotes the safety of children, the prevention of child abuse and the proper response to allegations of child abuse. Our regulatory roles are designed to support and reinforce the implementation of good practices in organisations, and to respond if organisations continue practices that put children or young people at unacceptable levels of risk.
Below is information about the powers of the Commission. From 1 January 2023, there will be changes to how the Child Safe Standards are enforced in Victoria. Click here to jump to more information about the changes.
We take a graduated approach to achieving compliance by the organisations we regulate. In many instances, we can bring about compliance through education and support, with more significant sanctions being used for organisations that are uncooperative or that have repeated or serious failings in compliance, or where greater harm or significant risk of harm to children has been identified.
We have powers under the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 to take action where there may be non-compliance with the standards.
Our co-regulators who also have a role as regulators for the standards have powers to take action as well. See Enforcing the Standards for more information on co-regulators.
The Commission can request in writing information or documents from an organisation that it reasonably requires to determine whether the organisation is compliant with the standards.
We may also request information or documents about an organisation from co-regulators if needed.
Conducting on-site inspections
With the agreement of the organisation, we may inspect premises. During an inspection, we may observe activities, inspect documents and request information to determine whether the organisation is complying with the standards. We may also meet with employees, children, volunteers, parents and carers to assist with our assessment.
Notice to produce
The Commission can issue a written notice to produce that requires an organisation to produce any document the Commission reasonably requires to determine whether the organisation is complying with the standards.
This will only be issued if we believe on reasonable grounds that an organisation is not complying, or is not reasonably likely to comply, with the standards.
There can be consequences for failing to comply with a notice to produce.
Notice to comply
The Commission may issue an organisation with a notice to comply if the Commission believes on reasonable grounds that the organisation is not complying with the standards.
A notice to comply sets out action the organisation is required to take to address issues identified by the Commission and must be accompanied with a timeframe for action and any recommendations or advice available to assist the organisation.
There can be consequences for failing to comply with a notice to comply.
Failure to comply with a notice to produce or a notice to comply
If an organisation does not comply with either a notice to produce or a notice to comply, we can:
- apply to a court for a declaration of non-compliance and a civil penalty
- report to Parliament on non-compliant organisations in an effort to better protect children and prevent abuse
- share information about failures to comply with our co-regulators
- request that a co-regulators take action to require compliance.
We may publish information in our annual report, website or other communications about our compliance activities, number of notices given and any court declarations made or civil penalties ordered.
In certain circumstances, the Commission can include in its annual report to Parliament the names of specific organisations that have been found to be non-compliant and details of the non-compliance.
Reviews of Child Safe Standards decisions made by the Commission
You can apply for some Child Safe Standards decisions made by the Commission to be reviewed. Please see the Information Sheet: Reviews of decisions made by the Commission, and Form: Applicant for internal review here.
From 1 January 2023, the Child Wellbeing and Safety (Child Safe Standards Compliance and Enforcement) Amendment Act 2021 will commence, which includes stronger penalties for organisations that do not comply with the Child Safe Standards. The laws provide the Commission and other regulators with more powers to assess and enforce compliance with the Standards, to make organisations safer for children.
New powers for Commission officers
New powers for Commission officers include the power to:
- enter premises with consent but without providing seven days written notice
- enter premises with a warrant
- enter premises without a warrant or consent
- search a premises and seize information, documents or other things.
New enforcement actions
Enforcement actions are steps that the Commission can take to encourage organisations to comply with the Standards. In addition to our existing powers, the Commission will be able to:
- issue official warnings to put a person or an organisation on notice that we are concerned about non-compliance
- enter into enforceable undertakings, which are legally enforceable written agreements where an organisation promises to take agreed actions to address non-compliance with the Standards
- issue an infringement notice for failing to comply with a notice to produce or notice to comply.
The Commission can also apply to the court for other enforcement actions and penalties such as:
- enforcement orders to comply with an enforceable undertaking
- injunctions, which are a court order that stops a particular action or requires a person or organisation to do a specific action
- an adverse publicity order in which the court can order an organisation to publicise their failure to comply with the Standards and the consequences of that failure (e.g. harm to children that occurred).
The Commission can commence civil or criminal proceedings against organisations who fail to comply with a notice to produce or a notice to comply, with a maximum penalty of over $20,000 (120 penalty units) for an organisation. Additional criminal offences also apply from 1 January. These offences carry significant penalties and include failure to provide assistance to authorised officers, obstruction of authorised officers, impersonation of authorised officers and providing false or misleading information.
The Commission will publish more information about the new powers and penalties in coming months. You can subscribe to our email list to be notified of any updates.