2021 – that’s a wrap!

It has certainly been a busy year for service providers and compliance professionals in our sector. Providers have been truly tested by the challenges of the pandemic and a changing regulatory landscape. We invite you to reflect with us on the key developments of this past year.

Child safety

In the child safety space, progress has been underway over the last couple of years to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. We published a blog post on this topic in March of this year.

On 1 July 2021, the new Victorian Child Safe Standards were released, bringing these standards into alignment with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. Our mapped self-assessment for the Victorian Child Safe Standards is available on SPP.

NSW followed in a similar vein and in November 2021, legislation passed in NSW Parliament mandating compliance with the NSW Child Safe Standards by certain ‘child safe organisations’. The NSW Child Safe Standards, which also map to the National Principles, can be accessed in SPP.

At present, Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd is finalising the Second Edition of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, and we expect to be providing assessment modules of these standards early in the New Year.

Aged care

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was the focal point for aged care this year, with some regulatory changes already implemented and others underway.

The Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) brought in new compliance requirements for residential aged care providers in April. Our Incident Management Procedures (Aged Care SIRS) Policy can help get you up to speed on this. In correlation with SIRS, the Aged Care Quality Standards were updated to include a requirement on incident management, and our ACQS self-assessments have been updated accordingly.

Rules around use of restrictive practices changed, with shift in terminology from ‘restraints’ to ‘restrictive practices’, bringing aged care into alignment with disability regulation. Our updated Use of Restrictive Practices (Aged Care) Policy reflects this.

This year we released an educative version of the Aged Care Quality Standards on SPP, based on the Commission’s Guidance and Resources for Providers document, and which walks providers through their requirements in greater depth. We have also released the Board Governance Toolkit, a comprehensive suite of resources designed specifically to support board members to fulfil their responsibilities under the Aged Care Quality Standards.


In late 2021, the NDIS Practice Standards saw their biggest overhaul since their inception. The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission identified emergency and disaster management and mealtime management/swallowing problems as key focal areas for additional guidance and regulation, and brought in three new Practice Standards to reflect this. In addition, a number of Quality Indicators were added and amended, reflecting a focus on infection control, staff training, individualised risk assessments and insurance requirements. Our blog post will flesh this out for you.

All changes to the NDIS Practice Standards are available for completion in SPP, and you can choose from mapped or stand-alone modules, depending on your organisation’s needs.

Health care

The National Safety and Quality Healthcare Service Standards (Second edition) were updated in 2021, to include new requirements around infection control. We added two new modules to our NSQHS self-assessment on SPP to address the new Standard 3 – Preventing and Controlling Infections.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has also begun releasing a number of new standards, aiming to ensure a consistent approach to safe and high-quality health care across different service environments. In 2021, we added self-assessment modules for the National Safety and Quality Digital Mental Health Standards and the National Safety and Quality Primary and Community Healthcare Standards to SPP, and we will be closely tracking the development of the National Safety and Quality Mental Health Standards for Community Managed Organisations.

During 2021 we also released three new modules for the RACGP Standards for general practices (5th edition). We worked closely together with the RACGP to ensure that all of the standards, criteria and indicators in each module are reflected in detail in SPP’s self-assessments.


ISO standards are popular accreditations amongst our users, and this year we were pleased to add ISO 27001 Information Security Management Systems to SPP. ISO 27001 is an internationally recognised standard that requires organisations to implement an Information Security Management System (ISMS). The Australian federal government requires ISO 27001 certification for all providers of employment skills training and disability employment services, and a number of health and community service providers also choose to follow this standard.

All the best for the holiday period!

The past 12 months have definitely been jam-packed, and we expect 2022 will be just as busy.

We thank you all for your continued collaboration, and from everyone in the BNG team, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

See you next year!

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Changes to child safe legislation in NSW: what you need to know

The Children’s Guardian Amendment (Child Safe Scheme) Bill 2021 has just been passed in NSW Parliament. This new Bill amends the Children’s Guardian Act to embed the NSW Child Safe Standards as the primary framework guiding child safe practices in NSW.

The requirements for specified ‘child safe organisations’ outlined in this blog post will become mandatory from 1 February 2022. 

This Bill is an amendment of an earlier Exposure Draft, released in 2020. A breakdown of the key changes from the the original Exposure Draft, can be found in the Consultation Summary.

Who is a child safe organisation?

So, who is a child safe organisation for the purposes of this legislation? Well, this new Bill features an updated definition of child safe organisation‘, which now covers the following: 

  • entities mentioned in Schedule 1 of the Children’s Guardian Act (excluding designated agencies and adoption service providers),
  • religious bodies that provide services to children, or in which adults have contact with children,
  • local government authorities, and
  • clubs or other bodies providing recreational or sporting programs or services to children, and in which workers are required to hold a working with children check clearance.
Notably, religious bodies and sport and recreation organisations are new groups on this list. The Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) has acknowledged that there are still some organisations who work with children who are not included in this list. While some organisations are not currently in scope, the Child Safe Standards can be implemented by all child-related organisations and will remain voluntary for organisations outside scope.

It’s important to note that designated agencies and statutory out-of-home care and/or adoption services have been specifically excluded from the Child Safe Scheme. This is because they are already subject to regulation by the OCG under the Child Safe Standards for Permanent Care (currently under review).

Special responsibilities and liabilities are held by the ‘head of a child safe organisation’. The Bill defines ‘head of a child safe organisation’ as:

  • the person or class of persons prescribed by the regulations, if the regulations prescribe such a person,


  • the chief executive officer of the organisation, however described,
  • if there is no chief executive officer—the principal officer of the organisation, however described, or
  • if there is no chief executive officer or principal officer—a person who has been nominated by the organisation and approved by the Children’s Guardian under the Children’s Guardian Act (s66).

What do child safe organisations have to do?

The ‘head of a child safe organisation’ must implement the Child Safe Standards through systems, policies and processes including the following:

  • a statement of the organisation’s commitment to child safety,
  • a child safe policy,
  • a code of conduct that applies to employees, management, contractors and volunteers,
  • a complaint management policy and procedure,
  • a human resources policy, and
  • a risk management plan.

The head of a child safe organisation must ensure the organisation implements a reportable conduct policy.

Additionally, the head of a child safe organisation is responsible for ensuring systems, policies and processes are continuously reviewed and updated to reflect any changes to the Child Safe Standards.

It is clear that organisations must be aware of who their ‘head’ is, as responsibility for implementation and monitoring of the Child Safe Standards lies with them. 

Monitoring and investigation

The Bill provides the Children’s Guardian with powers to monitor the implementation of the Child Safe Standards. The Children’s Guardian may monitor any child safe organisation through the following measures:

  • review the organisation’s systems, processes and policies,
  • review information held by the Children’s Guardian about the organisation and its employees,
  • with the consent of the head of the organisation, have an authorised person inspect the organisation’s premises, and
  • direct the head of the organisation to complete a self-assessment of the organisation’s compliance with the Child Safe Standards (a mandatory direction).

The Children’s Guardian may, at any time (by written notice) require the head of a child safe organisation to provide information about the organisation’s systems, policies and processes.

If the organisation does not provide the requested information, the Children’s Guardian may commence an investigation , and publish the organisation’s details on the Office of the Children’s Guardian’s website.

The Bill also provides the Children’s Guardian with powers for the investigation of complaints and concerns about a child safe organisation’s implementation of the Child Safe Standards. The Children’s Guardian may commence an investigation if:

  • a complaint is received about an organisation,
  • the organisation fails to respond to a recommendation made by the Children’s Guardian in a monitoring assessment report, or
  • for any other reason, the Children’s Guardian is concerned the organisation is not implementing the Child Safe Standards.

When conducting an investigation, the Children’s Guardian may follow any of the same steps as described earlier in relation to monitoring. It may also conduct an inquiry.

At the end of an investigation, the Children’s Guardian will prepare a report for the organisations, which will include recommendations for improvements, and may include enforcement measures.

How will the Child Safe Standards be enforced?

The Bill provides for enforcement measures, which allow the Children’s Guardian to issue compliance notices and to enter into enforceable undertakings with child safe organisations.

A compliance notice will be in writing and will include:

  • reasons for the belief the organisation is not implementing the Child Safe Standards,
  • risks to children that arise as result of the non-compliance,
  • the action the organisation is required to take,
  • the period of time within which action must be taken, and
  • a statement that failure to comply with the notice is an offence.

There are also provisions for organisations to request an internal review or extension of time in relation to a compliance notice.

A list of compliance notices currently in effect will be made available on the OCG’s website.

There are penalties associated with failure to comply with a compliance notice – 250 penalty units for a corporation, and 50 penalty units for others.

Instead of issuing a compliance notice, the Children’s Guardian may accept an enforceable undertaking from a child safe organisation, which is an undertaking from the organisation under which the organisation agrees to take specific action by a specific date. A list of enforceable undertakings that are in effect will also be made available on the OCG’s website.

The OCG has expressed its intention to use a ‘light touch’ in its approach to regulation, focusing on education and building on organisations’ existing strengths. However, these enforcement measures will be exercised in some cases, where necessary to ensure the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children. 

Capability building

The Bill sets out the Children Guardian’s responsibility to work collaboratively with child safe organisations to build capacity for child safe practice.

These provisions indicate that the Children’s Guardian may develop further guidelines to assist organisations and the broader community to implement the Child Safe Standards. If any such guidelines are developed, they will be published on the OCG’s website, and may include templates that can be used by child safe organisations.

The Bill specifies that the Children’s Guardian may provide training on the implementation of the Child Safe Standards, and that it may charge fees to cover any reasonable costs of the training.

Additional changes

The Bill includes a requirement for prescribed agencies to develop a ‘child safe action plan’. This requirement will not apply to community-based organisations in NSW, as it is limited to significant public sector departments, offices and agencies.

The Bill also includes an information sharing provision, which allows the Children’s Guardian to share information with other States/Territories or the Commonwealth, where a matter has relevance to another jurisdiction.

Access the Child Safe Standards on SPP

Sign up for a free trial now to self-assess against the NSW Child Safe Standards in the SPP platform. 

An update on the Child Safe Standards in Victoria

In March this year, we wrote a blog post which looked at where each state or territory was at with their implementation of the Child Safe Standards. Since then, there have been significant updates in Victoria. Last month, the Commission for Children and Young People in Victoria (the Commission) released the new Child Safe Standards, which aim to “provide more clarity for organisations and are more consistent with Standards in the rest of Australia”.

Do the new Standards apply to my organisation?

To find out if your organisation has to comply with the Child Safe Standards in Victoria, click here. And if you have additional questions around the new Victorian Child Safe Standards, their frequently asked questions page is a good place to start!

When do the new Standards commence?

The Standards will come into effect in Victoria on the 1st of July 2022. The Commission has recommended that organisations start thinking about meeting the new Standards and review their current approach to child safety, to plan what they need to do to comply with the new Standards.

The Commission has said that if organisations choose to meet the Standards before the 1st of July 2022, they will be accepted as compliant by the Commission.

How do the new Standards differ from the National Principles?

The Victorian Child Safe Standards closely align with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (the National Principles).  However, there is one additional Standard (Standard 1) on cultural safety for Aboriginal children and young people, and two additional indicators in Standard 3 around empowering children and young people. Given that the Victorian Standards differ slightly from the National Principles, some organisations who work nationally or across state borders will need to comply with both sets of Standards.  

How can SPP help me to meet the new Standards?

The good news is that SPP can assist Victorian providers to meet not just the Victorian Child Safe Standards but also Child Safe Standards across other jurisdictions. Last month, following the release of the Victorian Child Safe Standards, we added a self-assessment into the platform to assist providers to meet their new requirements. We have previously added self-assessments into SPP for both the NSW Child Safe Standards and the National Principles.

Our new Victorian Child Safe self-assessment is cross-mapped to other child safe standards on our platform, meaning that your answers will carry across from one set of standards to another, where there are common or duplicated requirements. So, if you self-assess against the Victorian Child Safe Standards, you will simultaneously be making progress against the National Principles and the NSW Child Safe Standards.

The self-assessment will assist organisations to identify any gaps or areas for quality improvement.  It also provides a range of child safe templates that providers can download and tailor to their needs.  

You can find the new self-assessment for the Victorian Child Safe Standards under the Standards tab > Australian National Standards.

Want to learn more?

For more information about the child safe self-assessments and resources on our platform, sign up for a free trial!