Improving Oversight And Safety In Boarding Schools
The Andrews Labor Government has introduced new laws to ensure boarding schools are registered, regulated and safer for students.
The Education and Training Reform Amendment (Regulation of Student Accommodation) Bill 2020, introduced into Victorian Parliament this week, will expand the regulatory powers of the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) to include school boarding premises.
The changes will require all school boarding premises to comply with existing registration requirements for schools in relation to child safety, including managing the risk of child abuse.
This will apply to boarding premises associated with government, Catholic and independent schools.
There are currently no government regulators that directly monitor the compliance of school boarding premises with the Victorian Child Safe Standards.
The regulation of school boarding premises for compliance with Child Safe Standards was one of the recommendations to come from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which identified boarding schools as a high-risk environment for students.
If school boarding premises are found to be non-compliant with any prescribed minimum standards for registration, the VRQA will have the power to take compliance or enforcement action.
These new requirements are expected to commence by Term 1, 2021.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino
“The safety and wellbeing of Victorian children is always our priority – that’s why we’re delivering on this important recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.”
“Ensuring that school boarding premises are registered and meeting Child Safe Standard requirements will help keep kids safe when they’re away from home.”