The New Ministerial Order 1359

A new Ministerial Order implementing the new Child Safe Standards, will come into effect on 1 July 2022 for all Victorian schools.

As a Principal, you should be aware of the changes and the impact they will have on your school operations and governance. It is also important that you review your school’s policies and procedures to ensure they meet the new requirements.

Ministerial Order 1359 replaces the current Ministerial Order 870. It is aimed at enhancing the current protections for the safety of children by setting standards and requirements for bodies registered as schools in Victorian.

A full copy of the new order can be found here.

What are the Changes?

The new ministerial order adds more detail to the Child Safe Standards and sets more prescriptive management obligations for schools as well as making changes to definitions within the order to better bring them in line with other legislative instruments to enhance the consistency and clarity for those affected by them.

The important changes that you must be aware of are the new Child Safe Standards, the changes to the definition of ‘school environment’ and the expansion of the definition of ‘child-connected work’.

“School environment”

The definition of ‘school environment’ has been changed significantly. It is critical that all Principals understand the expanded definition and its application to their school to ensure they are meeting the new Child Safe Standards.
The new definition is far broader and encompasses greater online environments and locations under the control of third party providers and other education providers.

The new definition of school environment is extracted below:

school environment means any of the following physical, online or virtual places, used during or outside school hours:

  • A campus of the school;
  • Online or virtual school environments made available or authorised by the school governing authority for use by a child or student (including email, intranet systems, software applications, collaboration tools, and online services); and 
  • Other locations provided by the school or through a third-party provider for a child or student to use including, but not limited to, locations used for: (i) camps; (ii) approved homestay accommodation; (iii) delivery of education and training such as registered training organisations, TAFEs, non-school senior secondary providers or another school; or (iv) sporting events, excursions, competitions or other events.
With this expanded definition, schools must take additional steps to ensure that any digital resource being accessed by students in a manner related to school offerings and any off-site programs being run by third party providers meet the requirements of the Child Safe Standards.

“Child-connected work”

The definition of child-connected work has been expanded in the new Ministerial Order to include school boarding premises. There has also been an additional definition of child-related work added to the Ministerial Order, adopting the definition from the Worker Screening Act 2020 (Vic).

Child Safe Standards

The new Child Safe Standards have been incorporated into the Ministerial Order 1359. There are 11 Standards that must be met by all schools. Compliance with these new standards is compulsory from 1 July 2022.

Principals should note the additional standard regarding the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander children.

We have previously published an article about the new Child Safe Standards discussing the changes and requirements in detail. This article can be accessed here.

Annual Training

Another important requirement of the new Ministerial Order is that the requirement for staff training on child safety have become more prescriptive. You should ensure that you are providing adequate training to staff, including information to all staff about the procedure(s) in place for responding to complaints or concerns relating to child abuse.

How can Brennan Law Partners assist?

Your school must ensure that it is compliant with the new Child Safe Standards on or before 1 July 2022. This includes reviewing your current policies, procedures and practices to ensure compliance with the new standards.

We can assist with your review of current practices and the development of policies and procedures tailored to your school that meet the new standards. Contact us to review your policies and procedures to ensure they are effective and up to date and let us know immediately if you are hesitant about appropriate steps to take in a given situation.

If you have any questions regarding any information in this BLP Brief, we welcome you to contact us at any time.
This is meant as a guide only and should not be taken as legal advice.

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