The Victorian government has developed 11 new child safe standards for organisations. Find out what’s changed and what you need to do next.
The new child safe standards in Victoria expand on those from 2016 and are designed to further strengthen child safety within organisations.
Victorian organisations covered by the current standards must comply with the new standards by 1st July 2022. This involves becoming familiar with them and putting policies, procedures and plans in place to ensure compliance.
Victoria’s existing child safe standards
The state government implemented seven child safe standards in 2016. Under these standards organisations have been required to:
- create leadership strategies to ensure child safety is embedded within the organisation
- commit to child safety and the development of child safe policies
- implement a Code of Conduct for staff and volunteers
- screen and train personnel who work with kids
- create processes for responding to and reporting allegations of abuse
- implement strategies to identify and reduce child abuse risk, and
- develop strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.
Organisations that are already compliant with the above standards and have existing child safe frameworks in place won’t need to start from scratch. They will however be required to adapt to the new expanded standards, and to make improvements regarding child safety and wellbeing where necessary.
What’s changed and why?
The changes have been designed to make child safety standards stronger in Victoria.
The updated standards will also be more consistent with Australia-wide principles and standards for child safety than previously. For example, they will have greater alignment with Australia’s National Principles for a Child Safe Organisation, which were developed in response to the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse.
The changes should result in the following:
- greater clarity for organisations regarding governance, systems and processes
- greater involvement of families and communities in keeping kids safe within organisations
- increased focus on the safety of Aboriginal children and young people, and
- management of risk for kids in online environments.
What are the new standards?
The new standards set out the minimum requirements of organisations that work with children and young people. At the same time they are more specific than the previous ones and so it’s very likely your organisation will need to implement some changes.
The following provides a summary of the new standards and examples of actions to take.
- Establish a culturally-safe environment that respects and values diversity and the experiences of Aboriginal young people
Actions: Equip members with knowledge about Aboriginal culture and its importance to child safety and wellbeing. Implement zero tolerance of racism.
- Embed child safety and wellbeing into the organisation’s leadership, governance, and culture
Actions: Ensure child safety is implemented at all levels of the organisation and that all members understand their obligations.
- Empower children and young people regarding their rights and decisions that affect them
Actions: Involve kids and young people in decisions that affect them and inform them of their right to safety and participation.
- Inform and include families and communities regarding child safety and wellbeing
Actions: Allow families to participate in decisions affecting their kids. Give families and communities a say in the development of child safety practices and policies. Encourage open engagement and communication.
- Uphold equity and respect diverse needs
Actions: Pay particular attention to the needs of kids with disabilities and from culturally diverse backgrounds.
- Ensure that suitable people work with children in your care
Actions: Check references when employing people, and run current background and Working with Children checks.
- Set up processes for complaints that are child-focussed
Actions: Develop a complaints policy that is culturally safe and focussed on the needs of the child. Your policy should outline the responsibilities of leaders and staff members and be easy to understand.
- Train and equip staff and volunteers regarding your child safe policy
Actions: ensure staff and volunteers are trained and supported to implement policy and to recognise signs that indicate a child may have been harmed.
- Promote safety and wellbeing in physical and online environments
Actions: Identify and mitigate risks in physical and online environments to ensure they are used in line with child safe policies and practices.
- Conduct regular reviews and ensure improvements
Actions: Regularly review and evaluate your child safe practices so you can make improvements. The findings should be communicated to staff, volunteers, communities and families.
- Ensure policies and procedures documents clearly explain how your organisation is safe for kids
Actions: Make sure staff and volunteers understand your policy documents and that they know how to implement your policies and procedures at work.
What you need to do
Here are 5 things you can start doing straightaway:
- Read the new standards in more detail and become familiar with them.
- Review your current approach to the safety of children and young people and develop a plan for transitioning to the updated standards.
- Start getting your updated policies and practices in place.
- If you haven’t already done so, consider joining ChildSafe to help and support you in managing all aspects of child safety within your organisation.
- Make sure your liability insurance is up-to-date. See further below for more info on insurance for churches.
As well as the above it’s crucial to regularly evaluate and review your child safety practices so you can work out what aspects may need improving.
Insurance for churches and charities
Faith Insurance offers a comprehensive set of policies for churches and faith-based charities, including a range of important liability coverages.
Our policies have been created with the needs of the community in mind. This puts us in a unique position to understand the insurance needs of your church or charity. Get in touch with our team by email or by calling 13 000 FAITH to find out more. Alternatively go here to get a quick quote.
Written by Tess Oliver
Tags: children, Childsafe