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Catholic schools have a moral, legal and mission-driven responsibility to create safe, nurturing and culturally supportive learning environments for children and young people.

On 1 July 2022, 11 new Victorian Child Safe Standards came into effect for schools and school boarding premises. The new Victorian Child Safe Standards support greater national consistency, reflecting the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, developed following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. 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.

Implementation of the new Child Safe Standards for schools and school boarding premises are detailed in Ministerial Order No. 1359 -Implementing the Child Safe Standards- Managing the risk of child abuse in schools and school boarding premises (Ministerial Order No. 1359). Ministerial Order No. 1359 defines the actions schools and school boarding premises must take to meet the requirements of the new Child Safe Standards.

VCEA commits to working with Catholic school proprietors across the state to ensure that schools provide a safe, nurturing and empowering culture for all children and young people in Victorian Catholic schools through:

Upholding the primacy of the safety and wellbeing of children and young people

At all times, the ongoing safety and wellbeing of children and young people will be the primary focus of care and decision-making. In addition to the universal focus on safety and wellbeing, schools need to pay attention and attend to the needs of their students who are most vulnerable.

To create and maintain a safe and nurturing culture, schools will actively and continually develop and review all policies, processes and practices, informed by their governing authority, emerging thinking and evidence.

Empowering families, children, young people and staff to have a voice and raise concerns

Schools, in partnership with families, will ensure children and young people are informed of their rights, and are engaged and active participants in decision-making processes, particularly those that have an impact on their safety.

This means that the views of children, young people and families are taken seriously, and their concerns are addressed in a just and timely manner. Children and young people are also taught to raise concerns, gaining the necessary skills and knowledge to understand and maintain their personal safety and wellbeing, and the safety and wellbeing of their peers, through educational approaches and programs.

Implementing rigorous risk management and employment practices

Schools will systematically and continually identify and assess risks to child safety, and will eliminate (where possible) or reduce all potential sources of harm in both physical and online environments. Effective risk management is embedded in school life through effective, transparent and well-understood policies, procedures and practices.

Schools will employ highly competent and professional staff who are formed and challenged to maintain the safety of all students. The high quality of staff appointments will be upheld through rigorous employment and review processes and practices, which include a demonstrated knowledge of child safety.

Catholic education will stay abreast of legislation, and will meet the legislative duties to protect the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in its care, including meeting the minimum requirements for compliance with the Child Safe Standards for schools and school boarding premises as set out in Ministerial Order No. 1359. This is in addition to ongoing work to support child safety, including mandatory reporting, reportable conduct, information sharing and complaints management.

Our commitment to Child Safety

Statement of Commitment to Child Safety