Catholic school communities place the highest priority on the care, wellbeing and protection of children and young people. Founded in Christ and sustained by faith, Catholic schools seek to fulfil their mission of enabling each student to come into the fullness of their own humanity. This includes paying attention to the inherent dignity of children and young people, and their fundamental right to be respected, nurtured and safeguarded by all.
Lumen Christi Catholic Primary School and the Catholic Education Office, Diocese of Sale (CEOSale) are committed to safeguarding children and young people against sexual, physical, psychological and emotional abuse and/or neglect, and is working in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Melbourne and Dioceses of Ballarat and Sandhurst through the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria (CECV) and with Diocesan schools to achieve this.
The Victorian Child Safe Standards
On 26 November 2015, the Victorian Parliament passed the Child Wellbeing and Safety Amendment (Child Safe Standards) Bill 2015 (Vic.) to introduce Victorian Child Safe Standards (the standards) into law. The standards will be phased in from 1 January 2016 for most organisations working with children and will come into force for schools from 1 August 2016.
Ministerial Order No 870 has been made and was gazetted on Thursday 7 January 2016. The Ministerial Order, developed in consultation with stakeholders from government and non-government school sectors, specifies the actions schools must take to meet each of the child safe standards.
As a minimum requirement for school registration, schools must take action in accordance with Ministerial Order No 870 to manage and reduce the risk of child abuse. The Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) will have responsibility for ensuring compliance against the standards in schools.
Regulatory compliance will take effect from 1 August 2016, to give schools time to familiarise themselves with the child safe standards and to prepare to meet the requirements of the Ministerial Order. Catholic Education Melbourne and the VRQA will provide information and support materials to assist Catholic schools to implement the standards.
What are the Victorian Child Safe Standards?
The standards were publicly released on 29 September 2015 after consultation with stakeholders. They are aimed at creating child safe environments and promoting cultural change in the way organisations manage the risk of child abuse and neglect.
Child safe organisations must have:
- 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.
In complying with the child safe standards, organisations must include the following
principles as part of each standard:
- promoting the cultural safety of Aboriginal children
- promoting the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds
- promoting the safety of children with a disability.