Legal Insights

Will your organisation still be 'Child Safe' on 1 July 2022?

By Catherine Dunlop, Dale McQualter & Eloise Daff

• 30 March 2022 • 4 min read
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Victorian organisations covered by the Child Safe Standards (Standards) are now more than six years into applying these important standards that seek to improve the safety of children and young people in Victoria. Following a review of the Child Safe Standards, and with evidence that the Standards have improved the safety of children and young people in Victoria, eleven new Child Safe Standards (New Standards) will come into force from 1 July 2022, replacing the seven existing standards.

To ensure ongoing compliance with the Child Safe Standards, organisations that are captured by the Standards should start reviewing their existing policies, procedures and systems to ensure the ongoing safety of children connected with their business and compliance with the New Standards when they come into force.

Is your organisation captured by the New Standards?

If your organisation was already required to comply with the Standards, then it will still be covered and will need to review and adapt its practices to ensure ongoing compliance under the New Standards.

The list of organisations that must comply with the Standards is broad and diverse, (see Schedules 1 and 2 of the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic)) and includes:

  • local councils
  • Victorian Government departments
  • tertiary education providers
  • charities and not-for-profit organisations
  • health services
  • schools
  • children’s services
  • housing and homelessness services
  • youth services
  • religious bodies.

We encourage you to get in touch with us if you are unsure whether your organisation is covered. Further guidance is also provided by the Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP).

What do the New Standards cover?

The New Standards include new obligations for organisations to:

  • increase the involvement of families and communities in the organisations’ efforts to keep children and young people safe
  • have a greater focus on the safety of Aboriginal children and young people by requiring organisations to establish a culturally safe environment in which the diverse and unique identities of Aboriginal children and young people are respected and valued
  • manage the risk of child abuse in online environments
  • ensure policies and procedures address all of the New Standards and are regularly reviewed and improved
  • give particular attention to the needs of children and young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex
  • analyse complaints and report findings of reviews to staff, volunteers, the community, families and children and young people
  • ensure greater clarity about governance, systems and processes in place to keep children and young people safe.

What should your organisation do to prepare?

Organisations required to comply with the New Standards should ensure that they have a good understanding of the changes and the extended obligations imposed upon them. Armed with this information about the New Standards, you should then conduct a review of your existing policies, practices and procedures, to identify any gaps or areas for improvement before planning and prioritising what you need to do to ensure you are best prepared to be compliant on 1 July 2022.

While many organisations will already have a child safe policy in place, the enactment of the New Standards provides a timely reminder of the importance of regularly reviewing organisational policies, procedures and systems, especially those aimed at addressing identified risks to health and wellbeing. Organisations captured by the New Standards should use the time between now and 1 July 2022 to not only update existing policies, procedures and systems but also to actively consult with employees about any changes and ensure awareness of the New Standards.

The New Standards not only require organisations to review or implement a child safe policy, they may also require the organisation to review other policies that interact with the obligations imposed by the New Standards, for example:

  • do procurement policies ensure the safety of children when the organisation is contracting with third parties; or
  • is your complaints policy and procedure appropriately accessible to Aboriginal people.

Whilst having a clear and well understood policy position is important, it is equally necessary to ensure that any changes are then embodied within the culture and practices of your organisation.

How can we help?

In order to take some of the pressure off organisations that are often already time-poor, Maddocks has developed a template policy that complies with the New Standards which is available for purchase.

If you would like more information about our template policy or require advice on any aspects of the New Standards, please get in touch with Dale McQualter or Eloise Daff.

By Catherine Dunlop, Dale McQualter & Eloise Daff

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