On this page
Child Safe Standards
We all have an obligation to do the best we can to keep children safe from harm and abuse.
Victorian organisations that provide services or facilities for children are required by law to implement Child Safe Standards to protect children from harm.
Organisations and businesses that employ children to provide goods or services, whether paid or unpaid, must also implement the standards.
Children are defined in the standards as anyone under 18 years old.
Why do we need Child Safe Standards?
All organisations working with children must take steps to prevent abuse. They cannot assume that child abuse does not, and cannot, happen within their organisation.
The standards are a result of recommendations of the Betrayal of Trust inquiry and evidence of what works to prevent child abuse.
In 2012 and 2013 the inquiry looked into the handling of child abuse by religious and non-government organisations. Its report highlighted poor and inconsistent practices for keeping children safe. It found some organisations’ cultures did not focus on children’s safety and many failed to report or act on child abuse allegations.
Child Safe Standards aim to:
- promote the safety of children
- prevent child abuse
- ensure organisations and businesses have effective processes in place to respond to and report all allegations of child abuse.
Child Safe Standards work by:
- driving changes in organisational culture – embedding child safety in everyday thinking and practice
- providing a minimum standard of child safety across all organisations
- highlighting that we all have a role to keep children safe from abuse.
Although all children are vulnerable, some children face additional vulnerabilities. The standards provide three overarching principles for organisations to cover:
- the cultural safety of Aboriginal Children
- the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds
- the safety of children with a disability.
There are seven child safe standards:
- Standard 1: Governance and leadership
- Standard 2: Clear commitment to child safety
- Standard 3: Code of conduct
- Standard 4: Human resource practices
- Standard 5: Responding and reporting
- Standard 6: Risk management and mitigation
- Standard 7: Empowering children.
Watch an overview of the Child Safe Standards in our presentation: Creating a child safe organisation
On 19 February 2019 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), which included the Victorian Government, endorsed the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (National Principles).
The National Principles embed the child safe standards recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse(the Royal Commission).
The National Principles are not currently mandated under legislation, and the Commission does not enforce compliance with them.
The Victorian Government is currently reviewing the Victorian Standards, including considering whether any adjustments should be made to better align with the National Principles.
In the meantime, the Victorian Standards are still in operation and remain mandatory for organisations in accordance with the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005. The Commission continues to enforce compliance with the Victorian Standards.
This means that organisations must continue to comply with the Victorian Standards, unless and until the Victorian Government changes the law.
There are some differences between the Victorian Standards and the National Principles. However, the Commission considers that in practice, their requirements are similar in many ways. If organisations are concerned about the differences between the two, and want to check that any action they are taking will support them to remain compliant with the Victorian Standards, they are encouraged to get in contact with the Commission.