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Early childhood services - child safety and wellbeing

Guidance on Child Safe Standard 2: Ensure that child safety and wellbeing are embedded in service leadership, governance and culture.


Standard 2 focuses on embedding risk management in service leadership, governance and culture.

A culture of child safety must be driven by service leaders and supported by effective systems and processes. It requires services to:

  • make a public commitment to child safety
  • actively monitor, review and evaluate child abuse risks
  • reduce the risk of harm and abuse to children 
  • embed a child safety culture at all levels of the service, led by leaders' behaviour
  • create an open environment where identifying and reporting harm is encouraged
  • respond appropriately to allegations or suspicions of harm or disclosures.

The 2016 Standards already required services to comply with many aspects of this standard. However, the new standard emphasises information sharing, record keeping and governance arrangements to create a child safe culture at all levels.

Reasons for the changes

The Betrayal of Trust Inquiry and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse examined systemic failures to protect children. Many failures were the result of poor leadership, governance and culture, including:

  • leaders who failed to act or were complicit in covering up child safety complaints
  • governance structures that did not have adequate oversight or review mechanisms
  • cultures that put adult offenders or organisational reputation above children's safety.

Actions services must take to comply with Standard 2

Standard 2: Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in leadership, governance and culture.  

Early childhood services must comply with all the following elements of this standard:

  • The service makes a public commitment to child safety (2.1).
  • A child safe culture is championed and modelled at all levels of the service from the top down and bottom up (2.2).
  • Governance arrangements facilitate implementation of the child safety and wellbeing policy at all levels (2.3).
  • Code of Conduct provides guidelines for staff and volunteers on expected behavioural standards and responsibilities (2.4).
  • Risk management strategies focus on preventing, identifying and mitigating risks to children and young people (2.5).
  • Staff and volunteers understand their obligations on information sharing and record keeping (2.6).

How to comply - examples and ideas

Start by reviewing your existing policies and procedures. Then compare them with the Standard 2 requirements.