Why focus on child safety?
The care, safety and wellbeing of children and young people is a central and fundamental responsibility of Catholic education. The CECV is committed to strengthened practice for the protection of children in line with the Victorian Government child safety reforms.
The Victorian Government’s 2012–2013 Betrayal of Trust Parliamentary Inquiry found that more must be done to prevent and respond to child abuse in all organisations working with children. The Betrayal of Trust report highlighted gaps and inconsistencies in child safe practices in organisations and recommended immediate steps for the safety of children through the introduction of a comprehensive set of child safe standards.
On 26 November 2015, the Victorian Parliament passed the Child Wellbeing and Safety Amendment (Child Safe Standards) Bill 2015 (Vic.) to introduce the Victorian Child Safe Standards into law.
Preventing and responding to child abuse requires a whole of community response to bring about broad cultural change. To this end, the Victorian Child Safe Standards apply to a broad range of organisations that provide services for children, including schools, churches, sporting clubs and youth services.
For schools, these child safe standards represent holistic education and organisational preventative measures in ensuring the safety of children and young people.
The Catholic sector’s response to the Victorian child safe reforms reflect our commitment to ‘lead the way’, not only by meeting our compliance and legislative requirements but through cultural change and strategies that ensure child safe practices are embedded in everyday practice.
What are the Child Safe Standards?
There are seven minimum child safe standards with an overarching principle of inclusion which applies to each of the Standards.
The intention of these new Child Safe Standards is to make organisations, including schools, consider and address child abuse situations and risks in an integrated and proactive fashion.
Principle of inclusion
Ministerial Order No. 870 ensures that school governing authorities must take account of the diversity of all children, including (but not limited to) the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, children with disabilities, and children who are vulnerable.
The seven standards are:
- Organisational culture for child safety
- Child safety policy
- Code of conduct
- Human resources practices
PROTECT: Identifying and responding to all forms of abuse
A new cross-sectoral protocol and associated documents for identifying and reporting child abuse have been developed:
- Reducing or removing risks of child abuse
- Empowerment of children