New legislation passed to protect kids from sex abuse

Schools and state government run organisations will be the first to implement new Victorian legislation aimed at reducing the risk and responding to allegations of child sexual abuse. 

The state government passed legislation in Parliament earlier this month, which introduced a reportable conduct scheme aimed at protecting children from harm.

The scheme requires certain organisations providing services to children to report centrally on any abuse allegations, ensuring individuals who pose a risk to children can be excluded from working with children, even if they don’t have a criminal record.

The scheme will be phased out over the next year.

Government schools and services must comply by July 1, while other institutions providing services to children, including religious organisations, must comply by January 2018. 

The Commission for Children and Young People will oversee the scheme and monitor how organisations are responding to allegations of child abuse and misconduct.

The commission will then report back to the government and share information with the Working with Children Check Unit to improve child safety.

The reportable conduct scheme is designed to work in conjunction with the child safe standards to help organisations reduce the risks of and respond to allegations of child abuse or child-related misconduct.

Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People Liana Buchanan said organisations working closely with children had a moral responsibility to make their safety a priority. 

“History tells us we need strong, comprehensive systems in place to make sure allegations of child abuse in organisations are taken seriously, properly investigated and acted on,” she said.

Under the scheme, any allegations of criminal misconduct will be reported to Victoria Police.

The scheme was instigated in response to the findings of the bipartisan Betrayal of Trust inquiry. 

• To contact the Centre Against Sexual Assault located on the corner of Vale and Edwards streets, Sebastopol, call 5320 3933 or free call 24 hours 1800 806 292.

Lifeline can be accessed on 13 11 14.