Frequently Asked Questions

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Discover Frequently Asked Questions about Safeguarding

Safeguarding is the active steps an organisation takes to protect children and vulnerable people from harm to ensure that their wellbeing and safety.  Organisations can safeguard from harm by having appropriate policies and procedures in place which provide safety and security, training staff about risks and identifying harm, and ensuring appropriate and transparent complaints-handling processes for incidents of abuse and harm

The Reportable Conduct Scheme requires organisations that are bound by the Scheme to respond to allegations of abuse and misconduct, notify the regulator of any reportable allegations, properly investigate reportable allegations and to notify the regulator of the findings and outcomes of the investigatoin.

In Victoria, there are five categories of reportable allegations under the Reportable Conduct Scheme:

  1. Sexual offences committed again, with or in the presence of a child,
  2. Sexual misconduct committed against, with or in the presence of a child,
  3. Physical violence against, with or in the presence of a child,
  4. Behaviour with causes significant emotional or psychological harm to a child, and
  5. Significant neglect of a child.

New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania have also implemented Reportable  Conduct Schemes and have similar types of conduct within their mandate which must be reported to the respective regulators in those states.

In Victoria, organisations subject to Schedule 3 of the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic) are required to adhere to the Reportable Conduct Scheme. 

New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania also require organisations within the Scheme’s mandate to comply with the respective schemes.

In Victoria, if you are concerned that an employee or volunteer of an organisation has engaged in reportable conduct or conduct which may involve reportable conduct, you can raise your concerns with the organisation through their complaints handling mechanism or make a report directly to the CCYP.  If an allegation is made an organisation is legally required to notify the CCYP within three business days after becoming aware of the reportable allegation.  Once made aware of the reportable allegation, organisations have a legal duty to investigation the allegation.

In New South Wales, Western Australia and Tasmania, complaints can be made to the organisation directly or to the respective regulators in each state.

Conducting a Safeguarding Investigation in relation to allegations involving children and vulnerable people requires expert skill and must be trauma informed to avoid any risk of further harm to the alleged victim.  The investigation process involves appointing a suitably qualified investigator to examine all evidence including oral and documentary evidence in order to make factual findings and findings pursuant to any other relevant schemes, including the Reportable Conduct Scheme.  Evidence gathering may include the Investigator reviewing documentation, making information requests for further information, taking photographs, and interviewing witnesses including employees and volunteers, children and family members who may have relevant information to assist in making findings.  A vital component of the process to ensure procedural fairness and natural justice, the Investigator will provide the respondent with particulars of the allegations and invite them to respond to the allegations.

Once the Investigator has gathered evidence and spoken to relevant and available witnesses, and the respondent, an Investigation Report will be drafted.  The Investigation Report will detail all available evidence and the Investigator will analyse and weigh up the evidence to make findings on the balance of probabilities.

Once a report has been completed the report is provided to the organisation so that they can make a determination about any employment outcomes and to comply with any external regulators.  Employment outcomes may include further training, increased supervision and support, other risk mitigation, warnings or terminating the employee from their role.

The length of time of an investigation varies greatly depending on the amount of allegations being investigated, the numer of witnesses and other evidence which needs to be considered, and whether external agencies are also involved, such as Police, which may impact upon the length of the investigation process.   Some allegations may need to be reported to police, child protection or other regulators and this can delays outside the control of the Investigator and organisation. Organisations may require permission from police or child protection to proceed with an investigation when other investigations are in progress.  Investigations can also become protracted depending on availability of evidence, availability of witnesses and availability of the respondent.

In Victoria the Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP) regulates the reportable conduct scheme and ensures that organisations are properly complying with the scheme.  The CCYP has the power to receive reportable allegations, conduct own motion investigations and make findings, can assess an organisations’ policies, procedures and practices to prevent, notify and investigate reportable allegations, provide oversight of investigations, build the capacity of organisations, and  refer findings to other regulatory bodies.

In Victoria, the Child Safe Standards are the 11 standards organisations working with children must comply with to ensure they provide safe services to children.  The standards outline the minimum expected outcomes organisations must aim to achieve to considered “child safe”.

The 11 standards are based on the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. The 11 Child Safe Standards are:

  1. Organisations establish a culturally safe environment in which the diverse and unique identities and experiences of Frist Nation’s children and young people are respected and valued.
  2. Child safety and well-being is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture.
  3. Children and young people are empowered about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.
  4. Families and communities are informed and involved in promoting child safety and well-being.
  5. Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice.
  6. People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and well-being values in practice.
  7. Processes for complains and concerns are child-focussed.
  8. Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training.
  9. Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed.
  10. Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is regularly reviewed and improved.
  11. Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.

All states and territories in Australia have endorsed the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, and some states have enacted the National Principles into legislation. 

In Victoria, all organisations who are listed in Schedule 1 of the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (Vic) must comply with the Child Safe Standards.  If your organisation has the care, supervision and authority of children it is required to comply with the standards unless the organisation does not provide services specifically for children, does not provide facilities specifically for use by children, or does not engage children in employment.

If you are concerned that an organisation is not complying with the Child Safe Standards or does not have the required policies, procedures and practices in place to meet the minimum expectations of the standards you should raise your concerns with the organisation through their complaints handling mechanism.  If you are concerned that an organisation is not responding appropriately to your concerns or is unable to respond appropriately, you can raise your concerns directly with the CCYP.

At Safe Space Legal, we offer a complementary initial half hour consultation where we will discuss your safeguarding needs and how we can best support your organisation to meet those needs.  Being a law firm, our consultations are confidential and subject to legal professional privilege.  At the initial consultation we will get further information from your about your organisation, how it operates, your role in the organisation and what you are needing assistance with.  From there we will develop a Proposal for you to consider prior to undertaking any work, clearly setting out what services we will be undertaking to support your organisation.  W hether it be by reviewing policies and procedures, providing training and support, completing audits, or conducting safeguarding investigations – we will be there to support you every step of the way to ensure that your organisation is legally compliant and best practice leaders in safeguarding.

Safe Space Legal only works with organisations to ensure the organisation complies with their moral and legal safeguarding obligations to keep vulnerable people such as children, people with disability and the elderly safe from harm.  While Safe Space Legal cares greatly about individuals exposed to harm and abuse, our clients are organisations.  If you are an individual that needs help you can contact:

  • In an emergency contact emergency services on Triple “0”: 000
  • Your local police station
  • Child Protection service in your respect state
  • National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1800 880 052 or [email protected]
  • NDIS Commission: 1800 035 544 or here
  • Elder Abuse Phone Line: 1800 353 374
  • Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission: 1800 951 822 or here
  • Regulators under the Reportable Conduct Scheme:
    • Strong Families, Safe Kids Tasmania: 1800 000 123
    • Australian Capital Territory Ombudsman: (02) 5119 5520 or [email protected]
    • Western Australia Ombudsman: (08) 9220 7471 or here
    • New South Wales Office of the Children’s Guardian: here
    • Victorian Commission for Children and Young People: 1300 782 978 or here
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We invite you to contact us to see how we can best work with your organisation

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