Safety of children & young people

Victoria University is committed to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, and has zero tolerance of child abuse or harm. All reports of child safety concerns will be taken very seriously and consistently in accordance with the university policies and procedures.

Child safety concerns include:

  • disclosure of abuse or harm
  • allegation, suspicion or observation of abuse or harm
  • breach of the Staff Code of Conduct (inappropriate behaviours).

What is child abuse?

Child abuse or harm is any act committed against a child or young person under 18 years of age which endangers the physical or emotional health and/or development of such person. Child abuse or harm can be a single incident, repeated incidents, or ongoing over time.

Examples of behaviours that are considered to be child abuse:

  • physical violence – physical harm or injury, such as bruises, cuts, burns or fractures. It may be caused intentionally or accidentally e.g. as the result of punishment or aggressive treatment
  • sexual abuse – involvement of a child in a sexual activity, such as fondling, masturbation, penetration or exposure to child exploitation material or grooming behaviour.
  • emotional or psychological abuse – repeated rejection, isolation or threats to frighten a child, such as derogatory name calling, put downs, persistent and deliberate coldness where the child’s emotional development is at serious risk of being impaired.
  • neglect – failure to provide a child with the basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical attention or supervision, which has or is likely to significantly impact on the child’s health or development.

For more information on child abuse refer to:

What to do

Report child abuse

If you believe a child or young person is at immediate risk of abuse you should call for emergency assistance:

  • Off campus: Call Police 000
  • On campus: Call Security 9199 6666

Child safety concerns

If you have concerns for a child's safety, you should report it.

Off campus

On campus

All child safety concerns should be reported to Safer Community.

Seek advice and support

Off campus

  • Safe steps offers women and their children living with family violence free access to professional support to become free of violence. Phone: (03) 9928 9600.

On campus

  • Safer Community provides advice, assistance and referrals on 9919 5707 or email Safer.Community@vu.edu.au.
  • Counselling provides free and confidential support for students; call 9919 5400 for an appointment.

Responding to a disclosure of child abuse

It can be distressing and confronting when a child or young person discloses abuse or neglect to you.

There are several things you can do to support the child or young person:

  • Move to a suitable environment to talk, without distractions
  • Be calm and patient
  • Listen and give them your full attention
  • Try not to interrupt, and let them speak in their own words
  • Reassure them it was right for them to disclose, and they are not at fault
  • Address any concerns they have about the child or young person’s safety
  • Acknowledge their bravery and strength
  • Explain that to keep them safe you will need to report their experience to someone else

Tips on responding to a disclosure of abuse from Australian Institute of Family Studies

If you believe that a child or young person is at immediate risk of abuse or danger of sexual abuse, you should call Police on 000.

Statistics about child abuse

 Infographic text on page

Prevalence

In Australia, 1 child every 13 minutes suffers from physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect.

Prevalance decrease with age, highest rate among infants.

Experience

  • Girls are twice as likely to experience sexual abuse.
  • Boys are more likely to experience physical and emotional abuse, and neglect.

Types of substantiated abuse:

  • 43% emotional abuse
  • 26% neglect
  • 18% physical abuse
  • 13% sexual abuse.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 7 times more likely to experience child abuse.

Impact

  • 43,400 children and young people live in out-of-home care due to child abuse.
  • More than half the children in out-of-home care are under 9 years of age.

Indicators of child abuse or harm

  • Unexpected bruises
  • Presence of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Substance abuse
  • Physical signs of self-harming
  • Speech disorders
  • Pregnancy
  • Malnutrition
  • Poor hygiene
  • Distrust of adults
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Overly obedient
  • Inappropriate clothing

Child abuse infographic (large)

Developed by Safer Community, Victoria University

Sources: Act for Kids, 2015; Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2016; Queensland Government, 2016.