On 1 July 2017 important amendments took effect to the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 (VIC).
Do they affect me?
Yes, especially if you work with children (eg. a school music teacher).
If you are the head of an organisation (eg. principal, head of department) then it’s vital that you are aware of these significant obligations.
What do I need to know?
The amendments introduce a reportable conduct scheme which contains various obligations if a “reasonable belief” can be formed that someone has engaged in “reportable conduct” towards a child.
Reportable conduct is broad and can include children that have been subject to sexual misconduct, violence, emotional or psychological harm or significant neglect.
I’m just a volunteer or a contractor, is this relevant to me?
Yes, complaints can be made by anyone, but the reportable conduct scheme’s obligations only applies to limited entities such as registered schools, institutions, religious bodies, camps and various other entities (defined here). These entities need to investigate and report all allegations of reportable conduct committed by an “employee” including volunteers, contractors, religious ministers and officers, even if they don’t provide direct services to children.
What will happen once a report is made?
The entity must notify the Commission for Children and Young People within three days then appoint an independent, qualified investigator to investigate the allegation/s and report back to the Commission within 30 days. With these tight time frames, schools should be well prepared and seek early advice to meet these obligations.
Where do I get more info?
The Commission has an excellent website with easy to understand info sheets and resources. Seek legal advice if you’re unsure about your obligations and how these amendments affect you. This post is not intended to be a substitute for personal, tailored advice.