On 13 November 2013 the Family and Community Development Committee of the Victorian Parliament tabled the report of its Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government Organisations (the Betrayal of Trust Inquiry). The report provided 15 recommendations, including the introduction of minimum standards for ensuring child-safe environments and an independent oversight (reportable conduct) scheme.
The government has committed to implementing all of the Inquiry’s recommendations. The Department of Health & Human Services is responsible for the implementation of the child safe standards and the reportable conduct scheme with other Victorian Government departments and community sector partners.
Child safe standards
Victoria has introduced compulsory minimum standards for organisations that provide services for children to help protect children from abuse.
From 1 January 2017, organisations that provide services for children are required to comply with the standards. For more information about the organisations that are required to adopt the standards, visit the Commission for Children and Young People website(External link).
The standards aim to drive cultural change in organisations so that protecting children from abuse is embedded in everyday thinking and practice.
The standards are compulsory for certain organisations, but are not prescriptive. This allows organisations some flexibility in how they implement the standards to meet the requirements.
To create and maintain a child safe environment, an organisation must have:
- strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements
- a child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety
- a code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children
- screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel
- processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse
- strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse
- strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.
The Commission for Children and Young People are the oversight body for the child safe standards.
Reportable conduct scheme
In 2017, the Victorian Parliament passed legislation to enable the reportable conduct scheme to be established and enable oversight of the scheme by the Commission for Children and Young People. The scheme will apply to a range of organisations and will be introduced in three phases from 1 July 2017.
The reportable conduct scheme will require organisations to respond to allegations of child-related misconduct made against their workers and volunteers, and report those allegations to the Commission for Children and Young People.
Under the scheme, the Commission for Children and Young People will have the power to:
- receive allegations and findings of reportable conduct
- assess an organisation's systems to prevent, notify and investigate reportable conduct
- provide oversight of workplace investigations
- investigate allegations in some circumstances
- refer findings to professional registration bodies and the Working with Children Check Unit
- build the capacity of organisations to respond to allegations of abuse
- report to parliament on performance of the scheme and trends.
The scheme will build on existing requirements including Victorian and national professional registration, employee misconduct and reporting obligations. The reportable conduct scheme will not interfere with reporting obligations to police or with police investigations.
For more information about the standards, including the organisations in scope, support for organisations and compliance monitoring arrangements please visit the Department of Health and Human Services website(external link).
Additional information about the child safe standards and reportable conduct scheme is also available on the Commission for Children and Young People website(External link).
If you require further information about the child safe standards or reportable conduct scheme, please email firstname.lastname@example.org