All children have a right to feel and be safe.
Victoria’s Child Safe Standards(opens in a new window) require organisations to embed child safety in their day-to-day operations, helping keep children safe from physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse and neglect.
The Commission for Children and Young People has practical advice on how to meet the Standards(opens in a new window) and keep children and young people safe.
The standards apply to Victorian organisations that:
- provide services or facilities to anyone under 18 years old
- employ children under 15 years old, whether the work is paid or unpaid.
Before employing a child under 15, an organisation must obtain a child employment licence. Once a child is employed, an organisation must comply with Child Safe Standards as an ongoing responsibility.
The Commission for Children and Young People has released a Short Guide to the Child Safe Standards(opens in a new window) that includes:
- an overview of the standards
- practical steps organisations can take to comply with the Standards
- answers to common questions.
There are 11 Child Safe Standards:
- 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.
- Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture.
- Children and young people are empowered about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.
- Families and communities are informed, and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing.
- Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice.
- People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice.
- Processes for complaints and concerns are child focused.
- Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training.
- Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed.
- Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is regularly reviewed and improved
- Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.
For more information on the Standards and advice on how to meet them, visit ccyp.vic.gov.au.
Complying with the standards
Employers can take the following steps to ensure they comply with Victoria’s Child Safe Standards:
- Create child protection policies that address each of the 11 Standards. These policies should clearly outline the organisation’s commitment to child safety, procedures for preventing and responding to abuse, and guidelines for staff and volunteers.
- Establish a code of conduct that outlines appropriate behaviour when interacting with children in your employment. This should include guidelines for communication, physical contact and respecting boundaries. The Commission for Children and Young People has resources to help develop a code of conduct.
- Implement recruitment and screening processes for all staff and volunteers who will be in contact with children. Conduct background checks, reference checks and ensure staff who will be supervising employees under 15 hold a Working with Children Clearance.
- Provide training to staff and volunteers on child safety, recognising signs of abuse and how to respond. Ensure that everyone understands their responsibilities and obligations.
- Keep policies and procedures up-to-date. Seek feedback from staff, volunteers, and families to identify areas for improvement.
Detailed examples of complying with each standard are outlined below.
Standard 1 – Creating a culturally safe environment
Employers must ensure that all children are safe, and feel safe at work, including Aboriginal children.
- encourage and support a child’s expression of their culture and cultural rights
- implement strategies that enable the organisation to recognise and appreciate the strengths of Aboriginal culture, understanding its significance for the wellbeing and safety of Aboriginal children
- adopt measures to identify, confront, and not tolerate racism within the organisation. Address instances of racism with appropriate consequences
- actively support and facilitate the participation and inclusion of Aboriginal children, young people, and their families within the organisation
- ensure all policies, procedures, systems, and processes collectively establish a culturally safe and inclusive environment, meeting the needs of Aboriginal children, young people, and their families.
A 14-year-old is employed at a cafe. The child’s manager seeks out cultural awareness training sessions for other staff members to ensure they learn and understand respectful ways of working with Aboriginal children.
Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance, and culture.
- publicly commit to keeping children safe
- ensure everyone in the organisation sets an example of a safe and protective environment for all children
- ensure the Child Safety and Wellbeing policy is followed
- establish a Code of Conduct to provide guidelines for staff and volunteers on expected standards of behaviour and responsibilities
- incorporate risk management strategies that focus on preventing, identifying, and mitigating risks to young people
- ensure all staff and volunteers understand their obligations on information sharing and record keeping.
A theatre production which employs various children under 15 displays a poster in their theatre foyer stating they are committed to child safety. Production staff regularly meet to discuss child wellbeing and promote a culture of reporting.
Children and young people are empowered about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them, and are taken seriously.
- ensure children are informed about all of their rights, including to safety, information, and participation
- recognise the importance of friendship and support from peers to help children feel safe and less isolated
- where relevant, offer access to sexual abuse prevent programs and to relevant related information in an age-appropriate way
- ensure all staff and volunteers are attuned to signs of harm and facilitate child-friendly ways for children to express their views, participate in decision making, and raise concerns
- have a strategy in place to develop a culture that facilitates and is responsive to the input of children
- provide opportunities for children to participate and are responsive to their contributions, thereby strengthening confidence and engagement.
A retail store hires a 14-year-old as a part-time stock assistant. The child’s manager provides the child with a simplified version of the Code of Conduct that highlights how adults should behave and information on the child’s rights to safety, information, and participation. The manager ensures they understand their responsibilities and know who to contact if they have concerns.
Families and communities are informed and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing.
- ensure families participate in decisions affecting their child
- engage and openly communicate with families and the community about its child safe approach and ensure relevant information is accessible
- ensure families and communities have a say in the development and review of the organisation’s policies and practices
- ensure families, carers, and the community are informed about the organisation’s operations and governance.
A local bakery has just hired someone under 15. Before the child starts work, the employer contacts the child’s guardians and invites them to attend a session where they can learn about the bakery’s policies, safety measures, and their child’s role.
Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice.
- understand children’s diverse circumstances, and provide support, particularly to those who are vulnerable
- ensure children have access to information, support, and complaints processes in ways that are culturally safe, accessible, and easy to understand
- pay particular attention to the needs of children with disability, children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, those who are unable to live at home, and lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and intersex children
- pay particular attention to the needs of Aboriginal children and provide/promote a culturally safe environment for them.
The owner of a clothing boutique is conducting interviews for a new manager. As the boutique employs a number of children under 15, the interview panel provides the preferred candidate with guidance on accommodating children with diverse needs, such as tailoring training sessions to the child’s learning style and pace.
People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice.
- ensure recruitment, including advertising, referee checks, and staff and volunteer pre-employment screening emphasise child safety and wellbeing
- ensure relevant staff and volunteers have current working with children checks or equivalent background checks
- ensure all staff and volunteers receive an appropriate induction and are aware of their responsibilities to children, including record keeping, information sharing, and reporting obligations
- ensure ongoing supervision and people management is focused on child safety and wellbeing.
A gymnastics club employs coaches of all ages, from 13 upwards. Upon induction, all staff members and volunteers are provided with a pack, including:
- the Code of Conduct
- the Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy
- information about the organisation’s child safety practices and complaints processes as well as reporting, record keeping, and information sharing obligations.
Standard 7 – Processes for complaints and concerns are child focused
Processes for complaints and concerns are child-focused.
- have 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
- ensure the complaint handling process is understood by children and their families, as well as staff and volunteers, and are culturally safe
- take complaints seriously and respond to them promptly and thoroughly
- have 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
- meet their reporting, privacy, and employment law obligations.
A 13-year-old supermarket employee makes a complaint to their supervisor about another staff member behaving inappropriately. The supervisor listens attentively and documents the complaint, recording the date, time, location, people involved, and a description of the incident. The supervisor follows up with the child to provide updates on the steps taken to address the complaint, communicating any actions that have been taken and further measures that may be necessary.
Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training.
- ensure staff and volunteers are trained and supported to effectively implement the organisation’s Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy
- ensure staff and volunteers receive training and information to recognise indicators of child harm, including harm caused by other children and young people
- ensure staff and volunteers receive training and information to respond effectively to issues of child safety and wellbeing and support colleagues who disclose them
- ensure staff and volunteers receive training and information on how to build culturally safe environments for children.
A small coffee shop employs people of all ages, including some under 15. The owners of the coffee shop reach out to a business to deliver training to the older employers on how to respond effectively to child safety concerns. The employees are taught about active listening, appropriate language to use when talking to children, and the steps to take if a child discloses any harm or safety- related issue.
Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for young children and young people to be harmed.
- 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
- ensure the online environment is used in accordance with their Code of Conduct and Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy and practices
- create risk management plans that consider risks posed by organisational setting, activities, and the physical environment
- have procurement policies that ensure the safety of children if they are contracting facilities and services from third parties.
An educational program provider has hired a 14-year-old tutor. All other staff members are provided with a detailed risk management plan so they are aware of risks of child abuse and harm and know what action they need to take to prevent and reduce them.
Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is regularly reviewed and improved.
- regularly review, evaluate, and improve child safe practices
- analyse complaints, concerns, and safety incidents to identify causes and systemic failures to inform continuous improvement
- report on the findings of relevant reviews to staff and volunteers, community and families, and children.
A safety incident is reported where a 13-year-old dance teacher was left alone in a studio. The manager of the dance studio conducts an analysis and identifies that the incident was caused by unclear communication of when the child’s shift was ending. The manager implements a mandatory check-in check-out procedure for all dance teachers, regardless of age, to ensure the whereabouts of junior dance teachers are always known.
Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.
- ensure policies and procedures address all Child Safe Standards
- ensure policies and procedures are documented and easy to understand
- consult with stakeholders to inform the development of policies and procedures
- champion and model compliance with policies and procedures
- ensure staff and volunteers understand and implement policies and procedures.
A local bookstore conducts research on best practice models for child safety in retail environments and considers feedback from various stakeholders, including employees, parents, community members, and neighbouring retail stores. This input informs the development of their Child Safe Policy.
The Wage Inspectorate is a sector regulator, responsible for promoting child safety outcomes, and monitoring and enforcing compliance with Child Safe Standards in Victorian workplaces.
Our regulatory approach and principles are outlined in our Compliance and Enforcement Policy.
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