Child Protection


The Victorian Child Safe Standards (the standards) now apply to all sporting organisations that provide services or facilities to children within Victoria. This is a legal requirement for sporting organisations of all sizes from grassroots clubs all the way through to national sporting organisations. 

The Standards relate to developing a child safe culture within your organisation and include requirements to have practices, procedures and policies in place to prevent and respond to allegations of child abuse. 

The standards are implemented by the Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP). They are an independent statutory body that promotes improvement in policies and practices affecting the safety and wellbeing of Victorian children and young people, with a focus on vulnerable children and young people. 

Vicsport, the peak body for sport and recreation, is committed to providing support and up-to-date resources to assist sporting organisations to meet the standards and identify if the culture and environment within their organisation is supportive and protective of children.

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Vicarious liability

Vicarious liability describes the principle in law which says that, depending on the circumstances, an organisation can be held responsible for the behaviour of its employees (including staff, volunteers and contractors), unless:

  • it can be shown that all reasonable steps were taken to prevent the behaviour from happening in the first place

  • there were appropriate policies and procedures in place for dealing with the behaviour when it occurred.

The same principle applies to governing bodies and clubs.

Mandatory reporting

Although everyone has a moral and social responsibility to report concerns about child abuse, some individuals are legally required to make a report to Child Protection if they form a belief on reasonable grounds that a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of physical injury or sexual abuse and the child’s parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type.

Under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic), doctors, nurses, midwives, teachers and school principals, police, youth workers, social workers and psychologists are all mandatory reporters. It is an offence (subject to a fine) if those mandatory reporters do not report to Child Protection as soon as practicable after forming the belief, and after each occasion they become aware of any further reasonable grounds for the belief, unless a defence applies.

As long as a report is made in good faith, the report is not unprofessional conduct or a breach of professional ethics and the reporter cannot be held legally liable. Confidentiality is provided for reporters in the Children, Youth and Families Act, and prevents the disclosure of the name or any information likely to lead to the identification of a person who has made a report in accordance with the legislation except in very specific circumstances.

Resource: Responding to and reporting suspected child abuse.