New Regulatory Requirements for Schools regarding Child Safe Requirements

Melbourne Montessori School (MMS, the School) is committed to ensuring the highest possible standards of care and behaviour for the educational environment that benefits our entire community. We regularly review our practices to ensure we offer an environment that is aligned to our ethos.   Earlier this year there were new regulatory changes, called Child Safe Standards, that gave us another opportunity to assess our schools policies, procedures and practices.

Like all schools, Melbourne Montessori School, must comply with new regulations called Child Safe Standards as specified by Ministerial Order 870 that were introduced in 2016.  We have introduced some new guidelines for all staff and visitors to follow when at the school.  We will be working with individuals and groups of people to ensure the relevant people are acutely aware of their responsibilities and expectations inline with these new regulations.

Some of you may already be aware of the Child Safe Standards and I strongly encourage all families to familiarise themselves with this further detail.   If you have specific questions about our commitment, changes or other details please contact Gay Wales.

 

What are the Child Safe Standards?

In April 2012, The Victorian Government initiated an inquiry into the handling of child abuse allegations within religious and other non-government organisations. The inquiries final report, Betrayal of Trust, was tabled in Parliament in November 2013.  As part of the Victorian Government’s commitment to implementing the recommendations of the inquiry, there is a new regulatory landscape surrounding child safety. This is underpinned by new Child Safe Standards.

The Child Safe Standards are compulsory minimum standards for all Victorian schools, to ensure schools are well-prepared to protect children from abuse and neglect. All registered schools have to meet a minimum standard for the care, safety and welfare of students. By the end of 2016, all schools need to meet child safety standards as specified by Ministerial Order No. 870.

To create and maintain a child safe organisation, a school to which the Child Safe Standards apply, must have:

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

Intent: MMS Board has the responsibility to embed a culture of child safety and ensure that policies and procedures demonstrate zero tolerance of child abuse in the school.

Standard 2 – A child safety policy or a statement of commitment to child safety.

Intent: MMS policies and procedures provide the foundation for and commitment to child safety in the school.

Standard 3 A code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour with children

Intent: All MMS staff in the school environment must be covered by a code of conduct which addresses child safety.

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

Intent: MMS must ensure that recruitment processes are in place to manage and reduce the risk of child abuse. In addition, processes must be in place to ensure that there are appropriate staff induction programs, staff professional development and staff supervision arrangements to ensure a child-safe environment.

Standard 5 – Processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse.

Intent: MMS policies and procedures for reporting and responding to suspected child abuse must enable individuals to take the appropriate course of action to protect the safety of students.

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

Intent: MMS must develop, implement, monitor and evaluate risk management strategies to ensure child safety in school environments.

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

Intent: MMS staff must ensure that children feel safe to report abuse and have processes in place to ensure that students are empowered to raise any child safety concerns.  Additionally, MMS must support students to develop appropriate knowledge and skills so that children can identify and communicate when they don’t feel safe.

MMS has a proud history of providing students with a safe and nurturing environment in which to prosper and thrive.  Since the Ministerial Order was released in January, MMS has been working toward understanding each of the seven standards so as to ensure that we not only comply with them but to ensure we model, wherever possible, best practice.

Some of the important changes MMS have already made to date include:

  • Strategies to embed an organisational culture of child safety were approved by the MMS Board in early August.
  • Creation of and introduction of a Child Safe Policy & Statement of Commitment. The Child Safe Policy provides a framework for Melbourne Montessori School’s approach to the Child Safe Standards and procedures aim to mitigate risk, protect children from all abuse, including physical violence, sexual abuse, serious emotional or psychological abuse and serious neglect. To read a copy of this please visit our website under About Us tab or click Child Safe Policy & Statement of Commitment
  • A Code of Conduct which has been drafted and consultation with staff has begun. We aim to finalise this in and will update you all in due course. The Code of Conduct sets out expectations of the treatment of children enrolled in our school and will be apply to Board members, all staff and visitors at our school.
  • Revision of and changes made to Human Resources and Operational Risk related practices, processes, programs and structures such as the screening, selection, supervision, training of staff along with other practices that reduce the risk of child abuse.
  • Procedures for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse.
  • Strategies to promote child participation and empowerment are being considered throughout the classroom programs offered. Each cycle level are reviewing our current approaches and are looking at how best to further develop age appropriate strategies into their student wellbeing programs.

Updated policies or procedures can be located via our Policy list on our website, or hardcopy accessed at each campus at reception.    We will continue to update you on any changes.

We welcome your feedback and if you have specific questions about our commitment, changes or other details please contact Gay Wales.