In 2012, the Victorian Government initiated an inquiry into the handling of child abuse allegations within religious and other non-government organisations.
Child safe standards and reportable conduct scheme
The Betrayal of Trust Report made a range of recommendations, including the need to better protect children from child abuse when they access services provided by organisations.
The Victorian Government subsequently introduced two key reforms to address the outcomes of the Betrayal of Trust Report; the Victorian Child Safe Standards and the Reportable Conduct Scheme. The reforms are overseen by the Victorian Commission for Children and Young People.
Child safe standards
The Victorian Child Safe Standards focus on organisations that provide services to children and young people; what they do to promote child safety, as well as prevent and report child abuse.
The Child Safe Standards provide a framework for organisations to develop policies, procedures and strategies that embed a culture of child safety into everyday thinking and practice to reduce the risk of child abuse. The Child Safe Standards are underpinned by the understanding that all children and young people are vulnerable.
Three overarching principles focus on the increased vulnerability of certain groups of children and young people. They require organisations to consider:
- Cultural safety and inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and their families.
- Cultural safety and inclusion of children, young people and their families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
- Participation and inclusion of children and young people with a disability.
Organisations are also encouraged to consider gender diversity and provide a safe and inclusive environment for same sex attracted and intersex children and young people.
The seven Child Safe Standards are:
- Standard 1: Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements.
- Standard 2: A child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety.
- Standard 3: A Code of Conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children.
- Standard 4: Screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse new and existing personnel.
- Standard 5: Procedures for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse.
- Standard 6: Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse.
- Standard 7: Strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.
Reportable conduct scheme
The Victorian Reportable Conduct Scheme has a narrower scope. It focuses on the reporting and investigation of child abuse and neglect by workers and volunteers.
Reportable conduct against a child includes:
- Sexual offences.
- Sexual misconduct.
- Physical violence.
- Significant emotional or psychological harm.
- Significant neglect.
The Commission must be informed of all allegations of child abuse involving a worker or volunteer and independently oversees all investigations undertaken by organisations.
For further information regarding the Victorian Child Safe Standards or Reportable Conduct Scheme please refer to Commission for Children and Young People