UPDATED Child Safe Standards
From 1 July 2022, all Victorian schools will be required to comply with the updated Child Safe Standards published by the Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP). The new Standards were developed to align with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (National Principles).
11 NEW STANDARDS
The new Standards continue to cover all the concepts contained in the current Standards, however, they expand those standards to include Standards 2, 3 and 4 from the National Principles. These standards concern children’s participation and empowerment, family and community involvement and equity and diversity.
The CCYP has created a fact sheet that compares the current Standards and the new Standards, which can be found here.
Child Safe Standard 1
Organisations establish a culturally safe environment in which the diverse and unique identities and experiences of Aboriginal children and young people are respected and valued
To meet this Standard, schools will be expected to:
- encourage and support children and young people to express their culture and enjoy their cultural rights;
- implement strategies to ensure staff members (and volunteers) acknowledge and appreciate the strengths of Aboriginal culture and understand its importance to the wellbeing and safety of Aboriginal children and young people
- implement steps to ensure that racism within the school is identified, confronted and not tolerated, including meeting incidents of racism with appropriate consequences
- be proactive in supporting and facilitating participation and inclusion of Aboriginal children, young people and their families
- ensure that all of the school’s policies, procedures, systems and processes create a culturally safe and inclusive environment and meet the needs of Aboriginal children, young people and their families through spiritual, social and emotional safety as well as physical safety, including protecting their identity and needs.
Child Safe Standard 2
Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture
In addition to referring to child safety, the new Child Safe Standard 2 includes reference to child wellbeing, requiring governance arrangements to implement child safety and wellbeing at all levels. There is also a greater emphasis on the importance of information sharing and record keeping within an organisation, to ensure the child safe culture permeates all levels of the organisation.
To meet this Standard, schools will be expected to:
- adopt a public commitment to child safety
- create and deliver a child safe culture at all levels of the school
- ensure that governance arrangements facilitate the implementation of the Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy
- maintain and implement a Child Safe Code of Conduct
- have clear risk management strategies that focus on preventing, identifying and managing risks to children and young people
- ensure that staff and volunteers understand their information sharing and record keeping obligations.
Child Safe Standard 3
Children and young people are empowered about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously
This new Standard expands on a School’s requirement to employ strategies aimed at promoting the participation and empowerment of young people to ensuring those young persons are informed of their rights. Schools must:
- inform children and young people about all of their rights, including to safety, information and participation
- emphasise and foster the importance of friendships and support from peers
- offer children and young people access to sexual abuse prevention programs and to other relevant information, in age appropriate ways
- ensure that staff and volunteers are attuned to the signs of harm, and that they facilitate child-friendly ways for children and young people to express their views, participate in decision-making and raise their concerns, including ensuring that staff and volunteers communicate with children and young people in a way that is appropriate for their age, maturity and capability
- maintain clear strategies to build a culture that both facilitates participation and is responsive to the input of children and young people
- provide opportunities for children and young people to participate, and be responsive to their contributions.
Child Safe Standard 4
Families and communities are informed, and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing
This new Standard recognises that involving families and relevant communities in developing, reviewing and implementing the child safety systems at a school is essential to foster an open and transparent child safe culture.
To meet this Standard, schools will be expected to:
- seek the input of families in decisions affecting their child
- engage and openly communicate with families and communities about the school’s approach to child safety, including ensuring that relevant information is accessible
- ensure families and communities have a say in the development and review of the school’s policies and procedures
- ensure that governance structures and operations are transparent and made clear to families and communities
Child Safe Standard 5
Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice
The Child Safe Standards have always required organisations to recognise and respond to diversity and understand that some children are more vulnerable to abuse than others. The new Child Safe Standard 5 creates additional specific obligations on organisations, to ensure that Schools focus on understanding children’s diverse circumstances, including the needs of non-binary and gender diverse children.
The new Standard creates specific obligations on schools to:
- understand children and young people’s diverse circumstances and provide support and respond to those who are vulnerable
- provide children and young people with access to information, support and complaints processes in ways that are culturally safe, accessible and easy to understand
- pay particular attention to the needs of children and young people with disability and from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, those who are unable to live at home, and LGBTQI+ children and young people
- maintain a focus on the needs of Aboriginal children and young people and provide a culturally safe environment for them
Child Safe Standard 6
People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice
This new Standard adds additional obligations to a School’s current obligations to screen , supervise and train staff to reduce of the risk of child abuse by personnel, to ensure that induction processes and training for staff (and relevant volunteers) are appropriate.
To meet this new Standard, schools will be expected to:
- emphasise the requirement for child safety in all job advertisements, referee checks and pre-employment screening
- ensure that all relevant staff and volunteers have a current working with children check
- provide an appropriate induction to all staff and volunteers that ensures they are aware of their responsibilities to children and young people, as well as their record keeping, information sharing and reporting obligations
- maintain ongoing supervision and people management practices that focus on child safety and wellbeing.
Given the additional requirements regarding volunteers, Schools should be mindful of how to provide volunteers with relevant induction training. Regard should also be had to the new information sharing and record keeping requirements.
Child Safe Standard 7
Processes for complaints and concerns are child focused
This new Standard emphasises the importance of processes for complaints being child focused, to ensure that the processes and procedures are appropriate and accessible for children. The new standards require schools to:
- have an accessible, child focused complaints handling policy that outlines the roles and responsibilities of leadership, staff and volunteers, the approaches to dealing with different types of complaints and breaches of relevant policies/the Child Safe Code of Conduct, and the obligations to act and report
- ensure that children and young people, families, staff and volunteers all understand the school’s complaints handling processes, and that these are culturally safe
- take complaints seriously and respond promptly and thoroughly
- have in place policies and procedures that address the reporting of complaints and concerns to relevant authorities (whether or not the law requires reporting) and ensure that cooperation is had with law enforcement authorities regarding those complaints
- meet reporting, privacy and employment law obligations when responding to complaints and concerns.
The strong focus of this Standard is for the relevant policies and procedures to be child-focused. This means ensuring that:
- the policies and procedures are clear, accessible and understood by children and young people
- the rights, safety and wellbeing of children and young people are promoted throughout all school endeavours
- all members of the community are aware of and have access to the relevant policies
- complaints are dealt with promptly, thoroughly and fairly.
Child Safe Standard 8
Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training
This new Standard makes requirements regarding staff training the processes explicit, with less ambiguity. Schools must ensure that staff are aware of their ongoing role and obligation to ensure a child safe environment through ongoing staff and volunteer training about:
- the Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy, including its effective implementation
- recognising indicators of harm caused by adults and other children and young people
- how to respond effectively to child safety and wellbeing issues, and how to support colleagues who disclose harm
- how to build culturally safe environments for children and young people.
Child Safe Standard 9
Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed
This new Standard places a positive responsibility on schools to ensure the school environment promotes child safety, not just merely identifying and removing possible harm. The new Standard also expands the school ‘environment’ to ensure recognition of online environments as a risk factor.
The new Standard creates specific obligations on a school to:
- identify and mitigate risks in the online and physical environment in a way that does not compromise a child or young person’s right to privacy, access to information, social connections and learning opportunities
- ensure that its online environment is used in accordance with the School’s Child Safe Code of Conduct and other child safety and wellbeing policies and practices
- maintain risk management plans that take into account risks posed by the school’s settings, activities and physical environment
- ensure that third party service providers also maintain policies and procedures that ensure the safety of children and young people.
Child Safe Standard 10
Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is regularly reviewed and improved
This new Standard emphasises the importance of continuous improvement in child safe standards to ensure that the School is at all times a child safe environment.
Schools will be expected to:
- regularly review, evaluate and improve child safe practices
- analyse complaints, concerns and safety incidents to identify causes and systemic failure and use that data to inform continuous improvement
- be transparent in its findings by reporting relevant findings to staff and volunteers, communities, families and children and young people.
Child Safe Standard 11
Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people
This new Standard makes explicit requirements for schools to ensure that all child safe standards are incorporated into their current policies and procedures.
- incorporate all 11 of the new Standards in their policies and procedures
- ensure that these policies and procedures are clearly documented and easy to understand
- consult with stakeholders and use best practice models when developing the policies and procedures
- ensure that leadership models and promotes compliance with the school’s policies and procedures
- ensure that staff and volunteers understand and implement the policies and procedures.
How can Brennan Law Partners assist?
Your school must continue to comply with the current standards, whilst commencing development of your policies, procedures and practices to ensure compliance with the new standards once they take effect on 1 July 2022.
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.