Friday 1 July 2022 – for immediate release
From today, new Child Safe Standards come into force in Victoria to better protect children from harm and abuse.
The Standards are compulsory for most organisations, businesses or groups that work or volunteer with children up to the age of 18 in Victoria.
‘Based on what we see in our work at the Commission, child abuse in organisations is a prevalent and evolving issue, and we cannot afford to think of it as something from the past. The new Child Safe Standards will help us continue to address that threat,’ said Liana Buchanan, Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People, today.
In January 2016, Victoria was the first state to implement legislated, mandatory Child Safe Standards to protect children from physical, sexual, and psychological abuse and neglect. Now, following six years of implementation and a further review by the Victorian Government, the Standards are being strengthened in significant ways.
In an Australian first, the new Child Safe Standard 1 will play an important role in keeping Aboriginal children safe and in celebrating their diverse and unique identities.
‘The new Standard 1 was introduced following an Aboriginal-led development process. Victoria is the first state to take this important step, which will help ensure the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal children and young people in Victoria,’ said Meena Singh, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young people, today.
Aligning more closely with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, the 11 new Standards will replace the current seven Standards.
As well as a greater focus on safety for Aboriginal children and young people, the new Standards will require organisations to involve families and communities in their measures to keep children safe. They will also be required to manage the risk of abuse in online environments, and include an important and welcome focus on empowering children about their rights and taking them seriously when they raise concerns.
‘While we know that the overwhelming majority of individuals working with children have their best interests at heart, children continue to experience abuse and harm in some of our most trusted organisations,’ Commissioner Buchanan said.
The work organisations have already done to meet the current Standards will help them be compliant with the new Standards, but most organisations will need to make some changes.
The Commission has released guidance to help organisations understand the new Standards and what the Commission will look for when assessing compliance.
‘We stand ready to support organisations to adapt to these changes and will continue to provide advice and resources to help organisations large and small, employee-run or volunteer-run, to comply with the changes.’ Commissioner Buchanan said.
Organisations will need to take action to comply with the new Standards by 1 July, but the Commission acknowledges that it may take time and effort to get things right, so some organisations may not have fully completed implementation by 1 July 2022.
Commissioner Buchanan confirmed the initial focus would be on informing and educating organisations about their obligations under the new Standards.
‘From January 2023, the Commission will expect organisations to have more comprehensively implemented the new Standards.
‘Children deserve to feel safe, nurtured and protected by the organisations they interact with, and the new Child Safe Standards will help make organisations safer and more inclusive for all children,’ she said.
More information about the new Child Safe Standards can be found on the Commission’s website: https://ccyp.vic.gov.au/
Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People
0437 046 360