Child Safe Standards – What does your club need to do?

The Victorian State Government has introduced compulsory minimum standards that apply to organisations that provide services for children to help protect children from all forms of abuse. The Victorian Child Safety Standards now apply to sporting organisations that operate and provide sporting services for children within Victoria.

There are seven (7) different requirements that make up the standards, which sporting organisations are required to comply with. Each Standard should 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 and the safety of children with a disability.

Below, characteristics of each Standard are listed along with a selection of resources to assist your club. A list of frequently asked questions has been compiled and contact information for further support and resources is supplied.

Play by the Rules also offer a free online, Child Protection Course. The interactive online training course is suitable for coaches, administrators, officials, players, parents and spectators. Click here for more details.

The Child Safe Standards

Standard 1: Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety, including through effective leadership arrangements.

  • Focus on protecting the interests of the child, not the club.
  • Make child safety a top priority.
  • Take a zero tolerance approach to child abuse.

Standard 2: A Child Safe Policy or Statement of Commitment to Child Safety.

  • Document how to meet your duty of care and responsibilities to children.
  • Acknowledge a commitment to child safety and the best interests of children.
  • Make this commitment clear to people in the club, children and families and the community.

Standard 3: A Code of Conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children.

  • Update your current Code of Conduct to include child safety.
  • Providing written guidance on appropriate conduct and behaviour towards children.
  • Detail and educate all club people about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in given situations, as it related to your club’s context.
  • Educating members/volunteers, parents and children about the required standards of behaviour and the consequences of non-compliance.

Standard 4: Screening, supervision, training and other human resource practices that reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing personnel.

  • Engage only the most suitable people.
  • Working with Children Checks / Police Checks.
    • Your club must keep a record of the card name, number, type and expiry date of all people doing child-related work.
    • As an individual, you must register each organisation you are doing child-related work for. This can be done by visiting the Working with Children Check website.
  • Reference checking and verifying qualifications for certain roles.
  • Providing quality supervision and training.

Standard 5: Processes for responding to an reporting suspected child abuse.

  • Ensure processes are clear and child friendly.
  • Children know who to talk to if they are worried and are encouraged to report unsafe behaviours.
  • Ensure everyone is aware of their duty of care and legal responsibilities and know how to respond accordingly.
  • Concerns and complaints are acted upon appropriately.

Standard 6: Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse.

  • Understand the vulnerabilities of your sport and your club.
  • Be proactive to reduce risks.
  • Adopt a risk management plan/policy.

Standard 7: Strategies to promote the participation and empowerment of children.

  • Value and respect children’s opinions.
  • Encourage children’s participation in decision making.
  • Establish an environment of trust and inclusion.



Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why do we have the Standards?
A. 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, the Betrayal of Trust, made a number of recommendations. The creation of Child Safe Standards was one of the key recommendations.

Q. I coach my daughter’s basketball team, but she is away from the team on a school camp. Can I still coach the team despite not having a Working with Children Check and my daughter being absent?
A. Yes. Given your daughter normally plays in the team, you are permitted to coach whilst she is occasionally away. However, if she were to be permanently promoted or transferred to another team, then you would be required to obtain a Working with Children Check to continue coaching the team.

Q. Who has to comply?
A. The Child Safe Standards 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.

Q. Do we need a Child Safe Policy and a Statement of Commitment?
A. No. Your club/organisation needs only one of the above. The choice you make may depend on the size of your club and what you think will work best for the club.

Q. Can we adopt our state bodies’ policies?
Yes. However, the there is no one size fits all and the context of every club will differ. Consider how to adapt the State body policy to suit the needs of your club.

Q. How does a Working with Children Check work?
A. The Working with Children Check assists in protecting children from sexual or physical harm by ensuring that people who work with, or care for, them are subject to a screening process. Working with Children Check cardholders are required to register each organisation they undertake child-related work with. This can be done by visiting the Working with Children Check website and registering for My Check. Click here to access My Check.

Q. Who needs a Working with Children Check?
A. Anyone who intends to do direct child-related work, and who does not qualify for an exemption, needs a Working with Children Check. To see if you need to obtain a Check, click here.

Q. What is the difference between a volunteer and employee Working with Children Check?
A. Both Checks are the same. However, by law, people doing paid child-related work must apply for an Employee Check and pay the Fee. Volunteer Checks are free. If you have a Volunteer Check and intend to do paid child-related work, by law you must not use the Volunteer Check for that work. Penalties apply. You must apply for the Employee Check before you start paid work.

Q. Is there a dollar amount I must earn before obtaining an employee Working with Children Check?
A. There is no set payment amount. Your club should take a common sense approach to this. For example, it may be deemed reasonable for a netball umpire who umpires every now and again to get a volunteer Check. For a football coach, who may be well-paid in their role, it may be deemed reasonable to require them to have an employee Working with Children Check. Your club should document in a policy what is deemed reasonable in regards to payment.

Q. I live in a border town (eg. Echuca-Moama), what Working with Children Check do I need?
A. If you are doing child-related work in more than one state for a period of more than 30 days in one calendar year, you are required to obtain a Working with Children Check from both states. For more information, click here.

Q. Will my registered clubs be notified when my Working with Children Check expires?
A. Currently no. The cardholder will receive notification not the club. Working with Children Check are working towards updating their systems so that both the cardholder and their registered organisations will receive notification.

Q. What is an appropriate adult to child ratio for car-pooling and/or team trips away for tournaments?
There is no recommended ratio. Best practice suggests to leave carpooling arrangements for parents to organise rather than the club. However if clubs are required to arrange carpooling, it is expected that all precautions are taken to ensure the safety of children involved. Trips away may benefit from a more rigorous risk assessment and a discussion within the club about a Code of Conduct. 

Q. Is there any child safety education or training volunteers can complete?
Yes. The Australian Sports Commission together with Play by the Rules offer free courses covering topics such as child protection, harassment and discrimination and complaint handling. These courses are available for anyone involved in sport and recreation organisations. The courses can be accessed here.

Further Support

Commission for Children & Young People 
Phone: (03) 9096 0000

Department of Human Services
Phone: (03) 8601 5281

Sports Focus
Phone: (03) 5442 3101

Phone: (03) 9698 8100

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