In 2012, the Victorian Government initiated an inquiry into the handling of child abuse allegations within religious and other non-government organisations.
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.
Merri-bek City Council is required by law to implement both the Child Safe Standards and Reportable Conduct Scheme.
Child Safe Standards
From 1 July 2022 there are eleven new Child Safe Standards, to replace the seven Child Safe Standards and three Principles that have been in place since 2016. Each Standard has several minimum requirements (50 in total), that Council is required to meet to be compliant. The new Standards provide more clarity for organisations and are more consistent with standards in the rest of Australia.
The Standards are a compulsory framework that supports organisations to promote the safety of children and young people by requiring them to implement policies, to prevent, respond to and report allegations of child abuse and harm.
The eleven Child Safe Standards are:
- 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.
- Standard 2 - Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture.
- Standard 3 - Children and young people are empowered about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.
- Standard 4 - Families and communities are informed and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing.
- Standard 5 - Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice.
- Standard 6 - People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice.
- Standard 7 - Processes for complaints and concerns are child focused.
- 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.
- Standard 9 - Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed.
- Standard 10 - Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is regularly reviewed and improved.
- Standard 11 - Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.
Reportable Conduct Scheme
The Reportable Conduct Scheme focuses on the investigation and reporting of allegations of certain types of abuse or misconduct by employees, contractors or volunteers. Reportable conduct against a child or young person are:
- sexual offences
- sexual misconduct
- physical violence
- significant emotional or psychological harm
- significant neglect
The head of an organisations must have systems in place to:
- prevent child abuse and, if abuse is alleged, ensure allegations are brought to the attention of the appropriate person for investigation and response; and
- ensure the Commission for Children and Young People is notified and given updates on the response to the allegation.
Follow this link to report a child safe concern at Council. All reports will be treated seriously and those that relate to the conduct of a Councillor, employee, volunteer or contractor will be investigated thoroughly.
An Information Sheet, including translation in several community languages, can be found here.