From 18 June 2021, we will begin regulating school boarding premises in Victoria.
This means certain types of student accommodation will need to be registered with us.
The following information will help you understand what's changing for your school or organisation.
Why the law changed
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse identified school boarding facilities as high risk environments for children. It found that a disproportionate amount of abuse has occurred in school boarding premises, and recommended they be regulated to ensure they meet the Child Safe Standards.
In response, the Victorian Government has expanded the VRQA's remit to include the regulation of school boarding premises.
What will change?
From 18 June 2021, school boarding premises must be registered with us and meet the minimum standards for the registration of boarding premises (the school boarding minimum standards) outlined in the Education and Training Reform Amendment Regulations 2021 (the Regulations).
The school boarding minimum standards will strengthen the focus on school boarding premises being child safe environments.
What is a school boarding premises?
The Regulations define a few terms that explain what type of premises will be required to register:
School boarding premises – a premises at which school boarding services are provided or intended to be provided by a person for a fee or reward.
School boarding services – accommodation services provided for the primary purpose of enabling or facilitating a person to enrol at or attend a registered school.
Accommodation services – the provision of accommodation, which may also include meals, laundry or cleaning.
These definitions apply to the traditional concept of school boarding, as well as what is often referred to as 'day boarding', including:
- accommodation services where students receive overnight accommodation ranging from one night to a term or longer
- non-overnight accommodation services, where students receive accommodation outside normal school hours, including to enable them to undertake sports training or religious instruction.
The requirement to register as a school boarding premises also applies to student homestay arrangements where three or more students are accommodated at the one premises. It does not apply to Outside School Hours Care (OSHC).
Your school or organisation will need to consider if its premises or services fall within these definitions. If so, they will need to be registered with us and comply with the school boarding minimum standards.
How much will change?
To reduce the regulatory burden for schools, the school boarding minimum standards closely align to the existing minimum standards and requirements for school registration (the school minimum standards).
They also overlap with
AS 5725:2015 Boarding Standard for Australian Schools and Residences (the ABSA Standards).
If your school or organisation already meets the school minimum standards or the ABSA Standards, a significant amount of your existing policies and procedures can likely be adapted to meet the school boarding minimum standards. However, you may need to develop some additional policies and procedures.
If your organisation doesn't currently operate against either of these standards you will have work to do to set up appropriate policies, procedures, and governance structures.
How do I register my school boarding premises?
From 18 June 2021, existing school boarding premises will have three months to complete a deeming process for registration. This will be a two-step process involving the completion of a self-assessment and statutory declaration.
Further information about the deeming process will be provided in the coming weeks.
How will the VRQA support you?
To help schools and organisations, we will:
- release an indicator survey to help you determine if you'll need to register as a school boarding premises
- provide guidance material to help schools and organisations understand how they can meet the minimum standards and where they may have to develop new policies and procedures
- develop new
Guidelines to the Minimum Standards and Requirements for the Registration of School Boarding Premises
- update the
Guidelines to the Minimum Standards and Requirements for School Registration to reflect requirements for schools that provide boarding services.
What can schools and organisations do now?
We'll soon have more information to share about the registration process and requirements.
To stay informed, make sure you subscribe for email updates about the introduction of the boarding premises regulations: