Department of Health

Child Safe Standards

All Victorian health organisations that provide services or facilities to children are required by law to comply with the Child Safe Standards.

The Department of Health oversees and promotes compliance with the Child Safe Standards. They apply to health organisations that provide any services or facilities to children. Find out which organisations have to comply

Compliance with the Standards is a requirement of the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act (2005) and regulated by the Commission for Children and Young People.

From 1 January 2023, the Secretary for the Department of Health is the sector regulator for health organisations for the Standards.

The categories of health organisations that will be regulated are:

  • Public hospitals
  • Public health services
  • Private hospitals
  • Denominational hospitals
  • Multipurpose health services
  • Mental health service providers
  • Maternal and child health centres
  • Day procedure centres
  • Registered community health services
  • State-funded drug or alcohol treatment services

What are the Child Safe Standards?

The Child Safe Standards were introduced in response to recommendations from the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations The Inquiry found that more must be done to prevent and respond to child abuse.

There are 11 Child Safe Standards. The standards aim to:

  • promote the safety of children
  • prevent child abuse
  • ensure organisations have effective processes to respond to and report allegations of child abuse.
  • To comply with Child Safe Standard 1 an organisation must, at a minimum, ensure:

    1.1 A child’s ability to express their culture and enjoy their cultural rights is encouraged and actively supported. 

    1.2 Strategies are embedded within the organisation which equip all members to acknowledge and appreciate the strengths of Aboriginal culture and understand its importance to the wellbeing and safety of Aboriginal children and young people. 

    1.3 Measures are adopted by the organisation to ensure racism within the organisation is identified, confronted and not tolerated. Any instances of racism are addressed with appropriate consequences. 

    1.4 The organisation actively supports and facilitates participation and inclusion within it by Aboriginal children, young people and their families. 

    1.5 All of the organisation’s policies, procedures, systems and processes together create a culturally safe and inclusive environment and meet the needs of Aboriginal children, young people and their families.

  • To comply with Child Safe Standard 2 an organisation must, at a minimum, ensure:

    2.1 The organisation makes a public commitment to child safety.

    2.2 A child safe culture is championed and modelled at all levels of the organisation from the top down and bottom up.

    2.3 Governance arrangements facilitate implementation of the Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy at all levels.

    2.4 A Code of Conduct provides guidelines for staff and volunteers on expected behavioural standards and responsibilities.

    2.5 Risk management strategies focus on preventing, identifying and mitigating risks to children and young people.

    2.6 Staff and volunteers understand their obligations on information sharing and record keeping.

  • To comply with Child Safe Standard 3 an organisation must, at a minimum, ensure:

    3.1 Children and young people are informed about all of their rights, including to safety, information and participation. 

    3.2 The importance of friendships is recognised and support from peers is encouraged, to help children and young people feel safe and be less isolated.

    3.3 Where relevant to the setting or context, children and young people are offered access to sexual abuse prevention programs and to relevant related information in an age-appropriate way. 

    3.4 Staff and volunteers are attuned to signs of harm and facilitate child-friendly ways for children and young people to express their views, participate in decision-making and raise their concerns.

    3.5 Organisations have strategies in place to develop a culture that facilitates participation and is responsive to the input of children and young people.

    3.6 Organisations provide opportunities for children and young people to participate and are responsive to their contributions, thereby strengthening confidence and engagement.
     

  • To comply with Child Safe Standard 4 an organisation must, at a minimum, ensure:

    4.1 Families participate in decisions affecting their child. 

    4.2 The organisation engages and openly communicates with families and the community about its child safe approach and relevant information is accessible. 

    4.3 Families and communities have a say in the development and review of the organisation’s policies and practices. 

    4.4 Families, carers and the community are informed about the organisation’s operations and governance.

  • To comply with Child Safe Standard 5 an organisation must, at a minimum, ensure:

    5.1 The organisation, including staff and volunteers, understands children and young people’s diverse circumstances, and provides support and responds to those who are vulnerable.
    5.2 Children and young people have access to information, support and complaints processes in ways that are culturally safe, accessible and easy to understand.
    5.3 The organisation pays particular attention to the needs of children and young people with disability, children and young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, those who are unable to live at home, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex children and young people. 
    5.4 The organisation pays particular attention to the needs of Aboriginal children and young people and provides/promotes a culturally safe environment for them. 

  • To comply with Child Safe Standard 6 an organisation must, at a minimum, ensure:

    6.1 Recruitment, including advertising, referee checks and staff and volunteer pre-employment screening, emphasise child safety and wellbeing. 

    6.2 Relevant staff and volunteers have current working with children checks or equivalent background checks. 

    6.3 All staff and volunteers receive an appropriate induction and are aware of their responsibilities to children and young people, including record keeping, information sharing and reporting obligations. 

    6.4 Ongoing supervision and people management is focused on child safety and wellbeing.

  • To comply with Child Safe Standard 7 an organisation must, at a minimum, ensure: 

    7.1 The organisation has an accessible, child-focused complaint handling policy which clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities of leadership, staff and volunteers, approaches to dealing with different types of complaints, breaches of relevant policies or the Code of Conduct and obligations to act and report. 

    7.2 Effective complaint handling processes are understood by children and young people, families, staff and volunteers, and are culturally safe. 

    7.3 Complaints are taken seriously and responded to promptly and thoroughly. 

    7.4 The organisation has policies and procedures in place that address reporting of complaints and concerns to relevant authorities, whether or not the law requires reporting, and co-operates with law enforcement. 

    7.5 Reporting, privacy and employment law obligations are met.

  • To comply with Child Safe Standard 8 an organisation must, at a minimum, ensure:

    8.1 Staff and volunteers are trained and supported to effectively implement the organisation’s Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy. 

    8.2 Staff and volunteers receive training and information to recognise indicators of child harm including harm caused by other children and young people. 

    8.3 Staff and volunteers receive training and information to respond effectively to issues of child safety and wellbeing and support colleagues who disclose harm.

    8.4 Staff and volunteers receive training and information on how to build culturally safe environments for children and young people. 

  • To comply with Child Safe Standard 9 an organisation must, at a minimum, ensure: 

    9.1 Staff and volunteers identify and mitigate risks in the online and physical environments without compromising a child’s right to privacy, access to information, social connections and learning opportunities.

    9.2 The online environment is used in accordance with the organisation’s Code of Conduct and Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy and practices.

    9.3 Risk management plans consider risks posed by organisational setting, activities and the physical environment.

    9.4 Organisations that contract facilities and services from third parties have procurement policies that ensure the safety of children and young people.

  • To comply with Child Safe Standard 10 an organisation must, at a minimum, ensure:

    10.1 The organisation regularly reviews, evaluates and improves child safe practices.

    10.2 Complaints, concerns and safety incidents are analysed to identify causes and systemic failures to inform continuous improvement. 

    10.3 The organisation reports on the findings of relevant reviews to staff and volunteers, community and families, and children and young people. 

  • Documenting policies and procedures to implement all the Standards sends a message to everyone involved with the organisation that child safety is important. It is not enough to have preferred practices in mind or believe that everyone in the organisation is already doing the right thing. 

    To comply with Child Safe Standard 11 an organisation must, at a minimum, ensure:

    11.1 Policies and procedures address all Child Safe Standards.

    11.2 Policies and procedures are documented and easy to understand. 

    11.3 Best practice models and stakeholder consultation informs the development of policies and procedures.

    11.4 Leaders champion and model compliance with policies and procedures. 

    11.5 Staff and volunteers understand and implement policies and procedures.

Regulatory role

As a sector regulator for the Standards, we will:

  • Educate, inform and provide advice
  • Investigate, monitor and enforce compliance
  • Collect, analyse and publish information and data
  • Promote continuous improvement
  • Work collaboratively with the Commission for Children and Young People and other regulators
  • Exchange relevant information as required

For more information on how health organisations will be regulated, see Child Safe Standards Regulatory Functions.

Report a Child Safe Standards concern

If you are concerned that a health organisation may not be complying with the Child Safe Standards, you can inform the Child Safety Regulation team by email childsafestandards@health.vic.gov.au.

Due to the sensitive nature of this work, we are subject to strict legislated confidentiality requirements. Consistent with these confidentiality requirements, we are usually unable to disclose to individuals who raise concerns any further information about the actions we take.

More information

The Commission for Children and Young People (Commission) is responsible for promoting compliance and consistency with the Standards. The Commission has developed information and to support organisations in A guide for creating a Child Safe Organisation.

For more information read the Commission’s New Child Safe Standards website or sign up for Commission email updates

Resources

These resources provide guidance and information for health organisations to implement and comply with the Standards.

Reviewed 02 January 2023

Health.vic

Contact us

Child Safety Regulation, Legal and Regulatory Reform and Policy Branch

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