The Department of Health and Human Services has completed the review of the Victorian Child Safe Standards on behalf of the Victorian Government.

The review found:

  • Strong support for the existing Child Safe Standards and the current scope of organisations required to comply with them
  • Implementation of the Child Safe Standards was challenging but most organisations believe that the Standards help support a child safe culture
  • Strong support for aligning the Child Safe Standards with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations
  • Oversight and compliance of the Child Safe Standards needs to be strengthened.

The review makes 15 recommendations, which fall into 3 categories:

  • Amending the Victorian Child Safe Standards to align with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations
  • Amending the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 to more clearly define which organisations are required to comply with the Child Safe Standards, and who is responsible for regulating those organisations
  • Amending the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 to provide a consistent suite of compliance and enforcement tools to regulators.

The department is grateful to the stakeholders, peak bodies, government departments and regulators who communicated information about the review and the public consultation to their networks, made written submissions and sought the views and experiences of the children and young people that they provide services to.

Completion of the review fulfils the Victorian Government’s commitment to review the Standards in 2018–19 to ensure they are as strong as possible, and to consider what adjustments may be needed to better align with the recommendations of the Commonwealth Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The Government has endorsed all 15 recommendations in the review’s final report.

Questions and answers

What is changing?

As a first step, the Victorian Government has committed to align Victoria’s Standards with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. Work will commence on updating the Standards as a first priority, with a focus on how best to retain the concept of child empowerment and maintain a distinct and explicit focus on cultural safety for Aboriginal children in aligning with the National Principles.

Amendment to the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 will occur at a later date.

What does my organisation need to do now?

Victoria’s Child Safe Standards are still law in Victoria and remain mandatory for organisations in accordance with the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic). Your organisation should keep building a child safe culture and keep complying with the Victorian Standards.

The Commission for Children and Young People continues to enforce compliance with the Victorian Standards. The Commission has published A Guide to Creating a Child Safe Organisation. If you would like further information about what you can do to support your organisation, to build a child safe culture, you can download A Guide for Creating a Child Safe Organisation.

How will my organisation know when the Standards are updated?

The department, other relevant authorities and the Commission for Children and Young People will communicate any changes to the Standards to peak bodies, organisations and other stakeholders. Organisations are encouraged to sign up to the Commission for Children and Young People’s website to hear more about implementation and receive updates. Once the revised Standards have been developed, the Minister for Child Protection will update the legislative instrument making the Standards and publish the new standards online in the Victorian Government Gazette.

Will my organisation have time to change over to the new Standards when they are updated?

The review of the Child Safe Standards recommends at least 12 months for transition from Victoria’s Child Safe Standards to new updated Standards that reflect the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations.

In substance, Victoria’s Standards are closely aligned with the National Principles. The department, other relevant authorities and the Commission for Children and Young People will be working together to provide guidance and advice to assist organisations with making the transition.

The department, other relevant authorities and the Commission for Children and Young People will communicate to peak bodies, organisations and other stakeholders as changes occur. Organisations are encouraged to sign up to the Commission for Children and Young People’s website to hear more about implementation and receive updates.

Once the revised Standards have been developed, the Minister for Child Protection will update the legislative instrument making the Standards and publish the new standards online in the Victorian Government Gazette.

When will the review’s other recommendations be implemented?

The priority is updating Victoria’s Standards to align with the National Principles. Other recommendations will require legislative change, which will be progressed after the Standards are updated.

Is my organisation required to comply with Victoria’s Child Safe Standards?

The Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Act) requires all ‘relevant entities’ (organisations) that are identified in Schedules 1 and 2 to the Act to comply with the Standards unless one or more of the exemptions in section 22 of the Act apply to that organisation.

An organisation is exempt from complying with the Standards if it does not do any of the following –

  1. provide any services specifically for children
  2. provide any facilities specifically for use by children who are under the [organisation’s] supervision
  3. engage a child as a contractor, employee or volunteer to assist the [organisation] in providing services or facilities or in producing or providing goods.

Contact the Commission for Children and Young People if you have questions about whether your organisation should be complying with the Standards.

Does my organisations have to implement with the National Principles now?

Victoria’s Child Safe Standards are still law in Victoria and remain mandatory for organisations in accordance with the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic). In substance, Victoria’s Standards are closely aligned with the National Principles. The Commission for Children and Young People continues to enforce compliance with the Victorian Standards.

Contact the Commission for Children and Young People if you have any questions about the Victorian Standards and the National Principles.

The Council of Australian Governments, including Victoria, endorsed the National Principles on 1 February 2019. The National Principles embed the child safe standards recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission).

The Commonwealth has committed to require organisations it funds to undertake child related work to adopt the National Principles. These obligations do not apply to funded organisations automatically. The requirements will only apply if they are included in your organisations written funding agreement: Visit Frequently asked questions to know about extending child safety obligations to Commonwealth funded third parties.

My organisation is considering aligning with the National Principles. What will this mean for my compliance with Victoria’s Standards?

Victoria’s Child Safe Standards are still law in Victoria and remain mandatory for organisations in accordance with the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic). The Commission for Children and Young People continues to enforce compliance with the Victorian Standards. In substance, Victoria’s Standards are closely aligned with the National Principles.

Organisations are encouraged to contact the Commission for Children and Young People if they are concerned about the differences between the National Principles and the Standards and want to check that any action they are taking will support them to remain compliant with the Victorian Standards.

Where can I get more information about the National Principles?

The National Office for Child Safety is leading national coordination and implementation of the National Principles, working with state and territory governments, and non-government sectors, to make organisations across Australia safe for children.

This includes coordinating the development of a range of national resources and practical tools to inform organisations, children and parents and carers about the National Principles and support implementation across all sectors.  

Information, tools and resources, including in 10 community languages, are available on National Principles for Child Safe Organisations.