Schools - leadership, governance and culture guidance

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

All references to 'schools' in this guidance include school boarding premises.

This standard commences on 1 July 2022.


This standard emphasises the vital role that school leaders and governing authorities have in establishing:

  • a culture where child abuse and harm is not tolerated
  • effective systems and processes to implement child safe policies and practices and manage child abuse risks.

Schools must take deliberate steps to promote child safety and wellbeing and protect children by

  • embedding and promoting a child safety culture at all levels of the organisation
  • school leaders actively modelling such a culture
  • ensuring transparent governance arrangements.

Benefits of child safety in leadership, governance and culture

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, and
  • cultures that put adult offenders or organisational reputation above children's safety.

A culture of child safety is driven by school leaders and supported by effective systems and processes.

Actions schools must take

To comply with this standard, at minimum, schools must:

  • develop, endorse and make publicly available a:
    • Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy
    • Child Safety Code of Conduct
  • develop, record, and implement risk management actions to make sure children are safe in the school environment
  • monitor, annually review and evaluate child safety and wellbeing risks
  • develop a policy or statement detailing the school's processes to meet Public Record Office Victoria Recordkeeping Standards (PDF, 653KB)
  • ensure records relevant to child safety and wellbeing are created, maintained and disposed of by Public Record Office Victoria Recordkeeping Standards
  • make sure school staff and volunteers understand their obligations in information sharing and recordkeeping.

Relevant standards

Implementing the standard

Think about actions your school might take

There are many actions schools may use to address this standard. To get started, review the example actions on this page.

Develop child safety and recordkeeping policies

Talk to families and students when developing these policies. For guidance, use Child Safe Standard 4: Family Engagement.

When developing child safety policies, refer to the guidance material for each policy.

Schools can use these templates to develop the policies:

All schools

Government Schools

Non-government schools

  • Recordkeeping Standards Policy guidance and template

Take all the necessary actions

Use this checklist to make sure your school is doing everything required to comply with this standard:

Use these presentations to train your school governing authority, staff and volunteers:

Review child safety policies

Schools must review their child safety and wellbeing policies:

  • after any significant child safety incident
  • at least once every 2 years.

Examples of actions to embed child safety and wellbeing in leadership, governance and culture

Establish expectations and promote child safety

  • Promote the school's child safety policies at assemblies, meetings, welcome packs, newsletters and other regular communications.
  • Create child-friendly versions of the Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy and Code of Conduct with student input and make these versions publicly available.
  • Use the Child Safety and Wellbeing policy to promote the school's commitment to child safety.
  • Display your commitment to child safety prominently at reception and around the school grounds. Also include the statement in enrolment packages.
  • Communicate and demonstrate that mistreatment of students and racism is not tolerated in any way and that students who speak out are listened to and taken seriously.
  • Promote regular open discussion on child safety issues within the school community including at leadership team meetings, staff meetings and school council meetings.

Assign responsibility

  • Nominate one or more child safety champions to lead the school’s child safety approach. Assign responsibility to the champions to review and update the Child Safety Risk Register annually.
  • Form a working group with staff and students to support the child safety champion and promote child safety.

Seek input

  • Ask students what matters to them, what makes them feel safe and whether the school's child safety strategies are meeting their needs, through focus groups and regular class discussions.
  • Seek input from staff, volunteers, families and the school community. Ask what the school does well, and what can be improved.
  • Consult with people external to the school who have additional expertise, such as the region or other external agencies.

Oversee implementation

  • Assess if the school has all the policies it needs for effective practice and compliance.
  • Review child safety practices and any emerging risks.
  • Provide regular reports to the school council or governing authority on child safety improvements.
  • Support students, families, staff and volunteers to safely disclose any child safety concerns or complaints. Report back to complainants about actions taken as a result
  • Ensure visitors are appropriately supervised on site in line with the Visitors in Schools policy.

Align governance and recordkeeping with best practices

  • Require that staff disclose any potential conflicts of interest and manage relationships and situations to reduce risks arising from conflict of interest.
  • Control access to records of complaints to ensure only appropriate people see details.
  • Ensure the school uses the relevant Public Record Office Victoria Retention and Disposal Authorities (RDA), including the RDA for Records of Organisational Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Incidents and Allegations to retain records for the correct period.


For further help to meet Child Safe Standard 2 and Ministerial Order 1359, contact