Child Safe Standards
New rules now apply to Victorian Sports
From 1 January 2017, the Victorian Child Safety Standards will apply to sporting organisations that operate and provide sporting services to children within Victoria (including National Sporting Organisations). There are seven different requirements which make up the standards, and with which sports will be required to comply.
The standards relate to child protection within your organisation and include requirements to have practices, procedures and policies in place. In the lead up to implementation, sporting organisations should now be starting to look at reviewing their compliance with the standards and considering if the culture and environment within their organisation is supportive and protective of children.
In conjunction with Sport and Recreation Victoria, Vicsport is currently developing a practical guide outlining steps organisations can take and planning information sessions and workshops for SSAs and RSAs to attend. It is hoped that the support put in place throughout the coming months will assist SSAs in transitioning to the new legislation and therefore, ensuring those within community sport also meet the new requirements.
Please refer to the below headings for further support, resources & information on the standards, upcoming events and key contacts.
Information Sheets and Templates
Vicsport is pleased to release the first in a series of information sheets and templates designed to support State Sport Associations and Regional Sports Assemblies prepare for the incoming Child Safe Standards.
Templates for a Child Safe Review and Action Plan are currently being finalised. These and additional resource will be released as soon as possible.
On Thursday 29th September, Vicsport hosted an Industry Forum providing an overview of the standards and support being offered to sports. Please see the recap below:
Compliance & Enforcement
Under the Act the objectives of the Commission are broadly to:
- the safety of children
- the prevention of child abuse
- proper responses to allegations of child abuse
- ensure relevant entities are continuously improving their processes to achieve these goals.
The functions of the Commission are broadly to:
- educate and provide advice to relevant authorities to promote compliance by relevant entities with the standards
- oversee and enforce compliance.
In exercising its functions, the Commission will consider the most effective means of promoting compliance, and also liaise with each relevant authority to promote compliance.
Under the Act a relevant authority is defined as a department responsible for regulating the relevant entity, or that provides funding. It also includes the Victorian Registration Qualifications Authority, and any other authority that regulates or funds the relevant entity.
The Commission will liaise with each relevant authority before taking any action that assists with assessing compliance. It is anticipated that through the cooperative efforts of both the Commission and relevant authorities, most organisations will work towards full compliance with the standards.
Relevant entities can expect that both the Commission and relevant authorities and funders will play a role in overseeing and monitoring compliance.
Under the Act a relevant entity is defined as an entity or individual required to comply with the minimum Child Safe Standards.
Relevant entities include schools, hospitals, and other organisations or individuals that:
- provide any services specifically for children
- provide any facilities specifically for use by children who are under the entity’s supervision, or
- engage a child as a contractor, employee or volunteer to assist the entity in providing services or facilities.
From 1 January 2017, all relevant entities will need to comply with the standards. To see a full list of the categories of relevant entities visit the In-scope organisations page.
The Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry in its Betrayal of Trust reportrecommended, among other things, that the Victorian Government introduce Child Safe Standards in Victoria to ensure child safe environments in organisations that work with children.
In the first instance the Commission’s compliance and enforcement approach focuses on supporting organisations to meet the standards.
There are a number of actions that the Commission can take if it is notified of a concern or complaint, or through its own inquiries and activities, it becomes aware that a relevant entity may not be compliant with the standards.
For further information about what enforcement powers may be exercised by the Commission can be found on the Enforcement page.
Amendments to the Working with Children Check (WWCC) come into effect on 1 August 2017. Individuals that previously did not require a WWCC may now need one to undertake their role. This has implications to standard four of the Victorian Child Safe Standards.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse made several recommendations aimed at strengthening the protection children receive through Working with Children Checks. The following amendments to the Act implement these recommendations:
- Expand the definition of ‘direct contact’ in the Act. The definition of direct contact now includes oral, written or electronic communication as well as face-to-face and physical contact.
- Remove references to ‘supervision’ from the Act. This means that even if a person’s contact with children as part of their child-related work is supervised by another person, they will still need to apply for a Working with Children Check (Check).
- Create a new occupational category of ‘child-related work’, known as ‘kinship care’. Family members or other persons of significance caring for a child placed by Child Protection under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 are required to obtain a Check.
- Ensure that non-conviction charges (charges that have been finally dealt with other than by a conviction or finding of guilt) for serious sexual, violent or drug offences are considered as part of Check assessments and re-assessments.
- Enable the Secretary to the Department of Justice and Regulation to compel the production of certain information for the purposes of compliance monitoring.
In addition, various other miscellaneous and technical amendments have been made to improve the Act’s operation and administration.
Detailed information on the changes is provided here.
What does this mean for sporting organisations?
Sporting organisations at all levels should be aware of the incoming amendments. Changes in relation to Direct Contact and Supervision may now require some volunteers and staff to gain a WWCC that previously did not need one.
Item 1 – Direct Contact
Matt is the communications officer at a local junior football club. He maintains the Facebook pages of the club, which involves direct contact with juniors aged 8-18 via social media. Due to the change in definition of direct contact, Matt is now required to hold a Check.
Item 2 – Supervision
Sarah is a trainee coach and supervised in her role coaching a junior basketball team by the club’s senior coach. Previously she did not require a WWCC. Because of the changes, even though she is directly supervised by the senior coach, Sarah is now required to hold a Check.
Vicsport encourages all Sport related organisations to:
- Review their current WWCC, Child Safe Sport and related Policies to ensure they are in line with the new legislation;
- Inform all member organistions and individuals as soon as possible – especially those that have not previously obtained a WWCC;
- Encourage applications for new WWCC as soon as possible to avoid delays closer to the 1 August 2017 deadline.
Information and enquiries specifically relating to the changes in WWCC legislation can be found by contacting the WWCC office via:
P: 1300 652 879
Additional Support and Resources
The Department of Health & Human Services
(03) 9096 0000
The Commission for Children and Young People
03 8601 5281
For further information on the Child Safe Standards contact:
03 9698 8106
In April 2012, the Victorian government initiated an inquiry into the handling of child abuse allegations within religious and other non-government organisations. The inquiry’s final report, Betrayal of Trust, made a number of recommendations that have been acted on by the Victorian Government. The creation of Child Safe Standards (the Standards) was one of the key recommendations.
Organisations affected by the Standards are classed as either Category 1 or Category 2 as per the table below. The majority of sporting organisations are classed as Category 2 organisations.
Organisations that receive government funding or are covered by regulation or contractual requirements.
Work towards from 1 January 2016
By 1 August 2016
Organisations that have little or no funding or regulatory relationship with government.
By 1 January 2017
From 1 January 2017, the Child Safe Standards will apply to sporting organisations that operate and provide sporting services to children within Victoria (including National Sporting Organisations). The Standards apply to organisations as a whole, not only the areas that work with children.
The Standards apply to all personnel in your organisation. This includes:
- Board of Management / Committee Members
- All paid staff (CEO, Executive, Employees)
- All Volunteers (Coaches, officials, administrators, scorers etc)
- All students on placement
- Any contractors you engage
The Standards are flexible and principle based.
The Standards apply to the safety of all children who are involved in your sport. Research shows that children from some population groups are at a higher risk of abuse than others. As such, each of the Standards must also be understood and applied in the context of:
- The cultural safety of Aboriginal children
- The cultural safety of children from a culturally and/or linguistically diverse background
- The safety of children with a disability
For the purpose of these Standards a child is defined as a person under the age of 18 years.
Child abuse is defined as:
- Sexual abuse (including grooming, with the intent to sexually harm a child)
- Physical abuse or violence
- Serious psychological or emotional abuse
- Serious neglect
It takes many components to build an organisation with a culture of child safety. The Standards should act as a starting point from which your organisation can take action. The Child Safe Standards incorporate:
- Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements
- A child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety
- A code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children
- Screening, supervision, training and other human resources practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel
- Processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse
- Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse
- Strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.
- Develop a working group or sub-committee to lead your organisations focus on developing a child safe culture
- Undertake a child safety review to identify:
- What you already have in place
- What you are doing well
- Where you need to improve
- Do you need anyone else to help?
- Understand your level of risk in relation to the services and activities you provide to your members
- Identify what further information , advice and support you need
- Develop and implement an action plan to ensure your organisation meets the Standards
- Consider the needs of your members (clubs & associations) and what assistance they may require
Child safety is not an add-on or one-off exercise. It is a legal requirement that your organisation will need to be compliant with as of 1 January 2017.
Having policies and procedures in place is not enough. It’s about creating a culture and environment within sport that is supportive and protective of children.
Vicsport is here to assist SSAs & RSAs through the process.
This resource is supported by the Victorian Government.
DISCLAIMER: This information
provides general guidance regarding the Child Safe Standards. It should not be
considered as a substitute for legal advice