Changes to Child Safe Legislation in Victoria
Last week, in Victoria, the child safety laws changed. Here’s what you need to know;
Amendments to the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act came into effect on the 27th February 2018, and are designed to clarify the operation of the Reportable Conduct Scheme and Child Safe Standards.
- If your organisation employs children, these changes will impact you.
- If your organisation falls under the Reportable Conduct Scheme, there are also changes of which to be aware.
CHILD SAFE STANDARDS CHANGES
The Victorian Government introduced compulsory Child Safe Standards for organisations that work with children in 2016. These seven standards outlined the responsibilities of organisations who work with children to ensure they are child safe (you can read our blog about these standards at the time here).
The changes brought into effect last week confirm that the Standards apply to more than just those organisations or businesses that work with children. It is clear now that they also apply to those that engage children to provide services, facilities or goods such as employers in the entertainment industry, organisations that engage children as models for advertising and marketing and also small businesses that engage children in work that isn’t directly supervised by their parent or caregiver.
REPORTABLE CONDUCT SCHEME CHANGES
- You can now nominate a head of the organisation for reportable conduct purposes
- Foster and Kinship Care arrangements are now included in certain circumstances
Before the changes, the Reportable Conduct Scheme (which oversees allegations of child abuse and misconduct) required heads of organisations to notify the Commission within three business days of becoming aware of a reportable allegation; they also need to investigate, update and notify the commission of outcomes of the investigation findings.
Because of the recent amendments, organisations can now nominate an appropriately senior leader to be their head for the purposes of the reportable conduct scheme. Your organisation can find out more about this process on the Victorian Commission for Children and Young People’s website here.
In addition, the changes also make clear that the Scheme is to include formal kinship and foster care arrangements. Specifically, these arrangements come under the scheme where the Department of Health and Human Services coordinates them, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation authorised under section 18 of the Children arranged them, or where coordinated by the Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic), the Children’s Court, or as a result of voluntary child care agreements.
The Victorian Commission for Children and Young People are available to provide guidance if you are unsure how these changes will impact your work. You can contact them on their contact us page here.
The Australian Childhood Foundation recognises that for many organisations meeting the Child Safe Standards is a demonstration of their strong child-centric culture. It is the progression from compliance with standards to a sustainable child safe culture that protects children and young people in organisations.
Our Safeguarding Children Program has a number of elements which can support organisations to prioritise the protection of children and their compliance with the Standards. The program offers the expertise to organisations to extend and validate their current approaches if they perceive a need for external support, training and independent evaluation, all within a framework aligning with the work of the Commissioner for Children and Young People and the Child Safe Standards.
If you would like to speak with a consultant at the Safeguarding Children Program, you can contact them via email by clicking here.
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