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Information for Operators of Licensed Children’s Services

The Government is providing for minimum quality standards across all childhood settings. The bulk of the changes are to the Children’s Services Act 1996, which will:

The Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005 is also amended to include the principle that all children in Victoria should be able to enrol in a kindergarten program. It is a priority of the Victorian Government to make kindergarten accessible to all four-year-olds.

Hazards and harm

Section 26 of the Act has been amended to require proprietors and staff members of services to take every reasonable precaution to protect children not only from any hazard likely to cause injury, but also from harm. The addition of ‘harm’ is new. Harm to a child may include, but is not limited to, serious incidents which could lead to trauma, injury requiring the attention of a medical practitioner, or death. Taking precautions to protect children from harm in this context includes taking precautions against harm arising in educational and care settings from physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse and neglect. Harm may also arise from inappropriate discipline of the child, or a child leaving the service unsupervised or unauthorised. The penalty for failure to take every reasonable precaution to protect a child from hazards, including harm, has been increased to 120 penalty units.

Secretary’s powers

A new section 42A has been inserted into the Act giving the Secretary of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development the power to obtain information, documents and evidence relating to a contravention of a serious offence from any person who is or has been a licensee, nominee or a staff member of a children’s service.

Emergency plan

A new section 43A has been inserted into the Act, allowing the Secretary to issue a notice to take
emergency action if satisfied that a children’s service is operating in a manner that poses a risk to the health, welfare or safety of a child being cared for or educated by the service. A proprietor must comply with a direction made under this section. The penalty for a breach is up to 120 penalty units.

Penalties

Penalties have increased across the Act. The new maximum penalties for offences range between 60 and 240 penalty units:

Changes that will affect services include:

Current Licences

The legislation allows existing licences to operate for their full term. These amendments will not impact on your current licence.

Key features of the new licensing system

The key features of the new licensing system, which will only affect licences that are granted or renewed after the 25 May 2009:

Are the Regulations changing too?

The Children’s Services Regulations 1998 will not apply after 25 May 2009. New regulations are to replace the current ones from that date. The elevation of specific staffing, programming, and health and welfare provisions from the Regulations to the Act reflects the Government’s commitment to improving the quality of early childhood services, and recognises that they are critical elements in the quality of the care and education provided to children.

Find Out More

The Departmental website:

http://www.office-for-children.vic.gov.au/earlychildhood contains a range of information resources.

Further information or any questions can be answered by contacting:

Licensed Children’s Services Enquiry line
1300 307 415

or a Children’s Services Adviser at any of the following regional offices of the Department:

Barwon-South West Region
Telephone: 5226 4540

Eastern Metropolitan Region
Telephone: 9843 6000

Gippsland Region
Telephone: 5177 2500

Grampians Region
Telephone: 5333 6530

Hume Region
Telephone: 5832 1500

Loddon Mallee Region
Telephone: 5434 5555

Northern Metropolitan Region
Telephone: 9412 5333

Western Metropolitan Region
Telephone: 9275 7000

Southern Metropolitan Region
Telephone: 9213 2111

Information sourced from: Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Victoria