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Child Safety

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The care, safety and wellbeing of children and young people is a central and fundamental responsibility of Catholic education.

ϱ Archdiocese Catholic Schools is committed to strengthened practice for the protection of children in line with the Victorian Government child safety reforms.

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.

Catholic education has done much to strengthen its wellbeing and protection environment and remains committed to continuous improvement and review of its policies.

Supporting an absolute commitment to child safety, ϱ Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) has a dedicated Student Wellbeing Unit, Learning Diversity Unit and Legal and Professional Standards Unit. We work closely with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA), the Department of Education and Training (DET), the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH), and the Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP) to manage the risk of child abuse through the promotion and implementation of the Victorian compulsory minimum Child Safe Standards and other relevant legislative obligations emanating from recommendations associated with the:

  • Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
  • Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations which culminated in the report titled Betrayal of Trust.

Mandatory reporting is a legal requirement under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.) to protect children from harm relating to physical injury and sexual abuse and is non-negotiable in our schools. 

Policies and Guidelines

There has been a review of MACS and school policies and procedures to reflect recent Victorian legislative amendments with respect to managing the risk of child abuse. The updates to these policies complement the introduction of new Victorian Child Safe Standards, which commenced for all Victorian schools and school boarding premises on 1 July 2022.

Catholic schools must comply with legal obligations related to mandatory reporting and managing the risk of child abuse to ensure that all school policies and procedures are continually reviewed and updated to reflect Victorian legislative requirements.

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 into law. The seven Child Safe Standards and came into effect for schools on 1 August 2016.

In July 2021, the Victorian Government announced new Child Safe Standards to further strengthen child safe environments and protect children from abuse. The 11 new Child Safe Standards came into effect for schools and school boarding premises on 1 July 2022.

The new Victorian Child Safe Standards support greater national consistency, reflecting the , developed following the . The new Child Safe Standards include new requirements, including:

  • the involvement of families and students in child safety efforts
  • focus on the safety of Aboriginal children and young people
  • management of the risk of child abuse in online environments
  • governance, systems and processes to keep students safe.
 

The new Child Safe Standards are underpinned by  which was gazetted by the Victorian Government on 10 February 2022. Ministerial Order No. 1359 defines the actions schools and school boarding premises must take to meet the requirements of the new Child Safe Standards.

As a minimum requirement for school registration, schools must take action in accordance with Ministerial Order No. 1359 to manage and reduce the risk of child abuse. The VRQA will continue to have responsibility for ensuring compliance against the standards in schools and school boarding premises.

Under Ministerial Order No. 1359, MACS as a school governing authority must ensure that its schools contextualise, develop and implement policies, procedures and practices to create a child safe culture and environment.

Victorian Child Safe Standards

  1. Culturally safe environments – 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.
  2. Leadership, governance and culture – Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture.
  3. Child and student empowerment – Children and young people are empowered about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.
  4. Family engagement – Families and communities are informed, and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing.
  5. Diversity and equity – Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice.
  6. Suitable staff and volunteers – People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice.
  7. Complaints processes – Processes for complaints and concerns are child focused.
  8. Child safety knowledge, skills and awareness – Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training.
  9. Child safety in physical and online environments – Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed.
  10. Review of child safety practices – Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is regularly reviewed and improved.
  11. Implementation of child safety practices – Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.

MACS schools can access guidance and resources to support implementation of the new Child Safe Standards and meet the requirements of Ministerial Order No. 1359 on the CEVN website under .

The links below provide further information on Child Safety and the Child Safe Standards:

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