Child Safe Scouting

You can find reporting forms here.

Safety is our number one priority for all our members. Scouts Victoria operates two emergency phone lines for 24/7 help and assistance (the Emergency Line and the Child Safe line). These numbers can be used by any adult or youth member to receive support and guidance in an emergency situation.

Child Safe Support - 1800 870 772

Please call the Child Safe number if you need immediate assistance or support on any of the following:
Reports can be made via The phone line is to provide support if needed.

  • If you form a reasonable belief that a young person could be at risk of harm or you have concerns for their safety or well-being. This could be for many reasons, including mental health or family violence.
  • If someone discloses sexual, physical, psychological or emotional harm or neglect towards a young person. This includes any disclosures from young people in regard to harm towards themselves.
  • If you have observed harmful behaviour towards a young person or seen suspected signs of abuse.
  • You have observed a young person participate in harmful behaviour towards themselves or someone else.
  • You have an incident that is continuing to escalate beyond local resource capacity or urgent assistance by Scouts Victoria is required.

Please complete our Child Safety reporting form within 24 hours for:

  • An incident that meets the criteria for calling the Child Safety Line (in addition to the call).
  • An incident involving the inappropriate or negative behaviour of an adult towards a child.
  • An incident that is a category 4 behaviour from their Code of Conduct.
  • An incident that you are not sure if you should report or not.

Listen and Support. Document and Report.

Listen carefully

  • Ensure the situation is safe. Stay in sight, but out of hearing of others.
  • Listen to what the young person wants to share.
  • Let them take their time, and encourage their own words.
  • Ask open questions such as “can you tell me more about that?” instead of leading questions such as “Did they touch you here?”

Support the young person

  • Hold back your own emotions and judgements.
  • Let the young person know it’s not their fault and they are not in trouble.
  • Acknowledge that it must have been difficult to share.
  • Inform them that you will report to Scouts Victoria so we can work together to help keep them safe. Do not promise to keep it a secret.
  • Be a listener, you are not an investigator.

Document everything

  • Be as specific as you can.
  • Use the young person’s own language and words where possible. Differentiate direct quotes from general statements.
  • Include who was present, and any other discussions you’ve had i,e, with your GL or other Section Leaders.

Report via 1800 870 772 or

  • Please be in contact within 24 hours of any disclosure, concern or notification.
  • Scouts Victoria understand that this can be distressing and we are there to support you.
  • We may ask you to notify an external authority such as Victoria Police and we can help you do that.
  • We will ask you to complete our notification report on our website.
  • Remember, if in doubt, make the call.

You can find reporting forms here.

Trigger warning: child safety can be a distressing topic. You can find links to support services and helplines on the left, under Support & Resources

How do we make our organisation safe for everyone?

We understand that making our organisation Child Safe isn’t as simple as saying that it is. Here are a selection of the things that we do to make our organisation safe for children:

  • All of our adult members (anyone registered as a member and over the age of 18, regardless of whether their role results in their having contact with children) are required to hold a Working With Children Check (WWCC). This includes Adult Helpers, committee members and Rover Scouts, as well as employees
  • All Leaders (that is, anyone that wears a leader uniform – the one with navy blue sleeves) and Adult Helpers are required to undergo a National Police Records Check
  • All Leaders, when applying for membership, must provide three referees, regardless of whether they are already a member of Scouting. These referees are each asked a number of questions about the applicants suitability for the role
  • All adult members must agree and adhere to the Code of Conduct, Ethics and Unacceptable Behaviours. Any breach of these codes can result in a termination of membership
  • ‘Two adult leadership’ – Leaders are expected to ensure that there are at least two Leaders present on any activity, with more as required by the appropriate leader/ youth ratio for the age group, except for activities where – appropriate to the maturity of the young people and the type of activity – young people are taking part without adults present at all
  • ‘Within sight, out of hearing’ – Leaders are expected to avoid any situation where they are alone with a child, except where strictly necessary. They are taught to keep in sight, but out of hearing, whenever one-on-one conversations are necessary
  • All of our adult members are required to undertake training, including training in Child Safe practices
  • Any reports of child abuse are taken seriously and dealt with promptly
  • We are currently working to ensure details on how to report any instances of abuse are both accessible and readily available to all of our members and the wider community, both through this webpage, our written publications, and readily displayed in all our halls and meeting places

What is child abuse?

This information is also available in a factsheet found here.

Child abuse is an act or omission that endangers a Child’s physical or emotional health, well-being or development and can occur as a single incident or multiple incidents over time.

The Child Safe Organisation Guidelines separate child abuse into five different categories: physical abuse, emotional/ psychological abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and cultural, racial or religious abuse.


Physical abuse is causing, or threatening to cause, physical injury to a child, or causing injury as a result of physical punishment or aggressive treatment of a child.

Emotional or psychological abuse can include rejecting, ignoring, humiliating, isolating, threatening, or saying mean or nasty things to a child, or allowing someone else to do so.

Sexual abuse is when someone uses their authority over a child to involve the child in a sexual activity, and can include fondling, penetration, and exhibitionism. The exploitation of children for sexual gratification is also included here.

Neglect is where someone fails to meet the basic needs of a child – providing them with water, food, shelter, clothing, medical attention, hygiene, and appropriate supervision.

Cultural, racial and religious abuse is where someone discriminates against or shows hatred towards a child on the basis of their culture, race or religion. It can be obvious, such as calling names or discrimination, but it can also be much less obvious – such as demonstrating a lack of respect in attitude or values, or failing to show a positive attitude towards other cultures, races or religions.


The abuse of children can have lifelong effects on their wellbeing. We do not accept any abusive behaviour and will take action against any individuals who are abusive towards our members.

Our Policy

You can find the full policy and procedures of Scouts Victoria on child protection here Scouts Victoria Child Protection Policy.

These are designed to ensure, that as far as possible, our volunteer, leaders and members may enjoy the Scout program in a safe and secure environment.

To view our Responding to Harmful and Unwanted Behaviours between Youth Members Policy and Procedure click here.

Our procedures

For the full outline of our procedures, please refer to the policy found above.

In brief, should a member of our organisation become aware of – whether by witnessing it or hearing of it from someone else – an incident of child abuse, they are required to report it to the Executive Manager of Scouts Victoria. They do this through both an initial phone call immediately after becoming aware of the incident, and by completing a Child Protection Report form which is then emailed to

If required to by Failure to disclose legislation, they must also immediately inform Victoria Police of their suspicions.

Incidents reported through our other reporting services, for children and non-Scouting member adults, will be dealt with as required by the incident.

If reported to Victoria Police, Scouts Victoria will act in accordance with their requests.

If we determine that it is not an incident that Scouts Victoria is required to report to external authorities, an internal investigation may be conducted and actions taken based on that investigation. Responses could include suspension or termination of membership, a performance review, further training, a written warning, or no further action.

As of July 1, 2015, if individuals holding positions of authority within an organisation, such as Scouts Victoria, are found to have failed to reduce or remove the risk of sexual abuse of children or young people under the age of 16, they can be charged with the offence of Failure to protect.

Unacceptable Adult Behaviour

Unacceptable Adult Behaviour

It is important that the young people in our care are safe, and that they feel safe.It is also important that adults are safe.

The following behaviours are unacceptable by Adults in Scouting.


  • Any form of physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, cultural, racial or religious abuse
  • Entering an area where children are changing or showering, or entering youth members’ tents or sleeping areas on camp when young people are in bed (without a valid reason, such as an emergency)
  • Transporting an individual youth member alone(unless their own child, or in an emergency)
  • Communicating one-on-one with youth members outside of Scouts through text messaging or via social media
  • Developing special relationships, including one-on-one catch up sessions for missed Scouting activities
  • Distributing inappropriate materials via any channel
  • Engaging in discussions with young people that are not age-appropriate
  • Encouraging the use or consumption of alcohol, smoking, or use of illicit substances by youth members
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or illicit substances while undertaking duties as an Adult in Scouting
  • Behaving towards a youth member in a manner that makes them uncomfortable
  • Breaching the Scouts Australia Code of Conduct. Adults in Scouting also commit to our Code of Ethics.


Anyone can report any incident of unacceptable behaviour as per our Reporting process here.

Reporting child abuse, harm or neglect

The process of making complaints or allegations of child abuse, harm, or neglect is straightforward and accessible. For survivors of child abuse please see the appropriate section below.

To make a report, please call our team on 1800 870 772 or send an email providing as many details as possible to Please follow up with a completed Child Protection Report Form immediately.

A fact sheet with more details on this process can be found here.

Remember, our Adult Members are bound by the Adults in Scouting Code of Conduct to report any conduct seen or heard that does not comply with the code.

But, I’m not sure if this is reportable?

As outlined in our Child Safety Training, if you are uncertain then you are encouraged to make a report. Our team can then assist to ascertain if further action is necessary. It also enables Scouts Victoria to identify patterns of behaviour that may be of a concern.

This includes reporting behaviour that doesn’t meet our Child Protection Policy – for example, failing to meet the “two deep leadership” requirements should trigger you to submit a report. This reporting enables us to appropriately monitor and take necessary corrective action.

If you are still unsure, please call 1800 870 772 to speak to one of our team who can assist.

I am not confident in filling in the form

We understand that completing a form may not necessarily be easy to do, in this situation contact us on 1800 870 772 to speak to our team who can assist or take the report over the phone.

Historical cases of child abuse

If you are a survivor of an historical case of child abuse, and would like to report the case for the first time, or are not happy with how it was dealt with in the past, please contact Scouts Victoria on (03) 8543 9877.

Mandatory reporting and failure to disclose

There are several different Acts of Parliament that are relevant to the reporting obligations of adult members of Scouts Victoria. The Australian Institute of Family Studies explains these both for Victoria and the rest of Australia (bear in mind that reporting obligations vary based on where the crime took place).

In short, as of October 27 2014, the Failure to Disclose law applies to all adults (over 18 years of age). This means it applies to all adult members of Scouts Victoria, regardless of any other reporting obligations they may or may not have.

This legislation applies when an adult (over 18 years of age) has reasonable grounds to believe that someone over the age of 18 has committed a sexual offence against a child (someone under 16 years of age) within Victoria, and requires that adult to report what they know (or believe they know) to Victoria Police.. Further details on this legislation can be found at the Department of Justice’s factsheet. It does not apply – at this point in time – to forms of abuse that are not sexual.

Some adult members of Scouts Victoria will also already be mandatory reporters. Mandatory reporters are members of certain registered professions, and, according to the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 must make a report to the relevant authority if, "in the course of practising his or her profession or carrying out the duties of his or her office, position or employment (...) forms the belief on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection". All mandatory reporters should already be familiar with their obligations; further information can also be found at the Australian Institute of Family Studies’ webpage.

Children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Australians

We recognise that different cultures and communities around the world have different approaches to life and the safety of children. We value and encourage diversity in our organisation, and work to ensure that everyone feels welcome and included.

We will not compromise our child safety policies on the basis of cultural differences, but we will seek to understand and discuss the differences, in order to ensure the safety of all our members, both for individuals’ safety and the wellbeing of our organisation as a whole.

If you believe that your cultural needs are not being met, or we can do more to engage with you and others of your culture, or you would like to help us better engage, please contact the State Commissioner Inclusion and Diversity on

A brochure called Spot It, Stop It was produced by the NSW government in 2005 which explains what different types of abuse are, and is available in 17 languages (Arabic, Chinese, Croatian, Dari, Dinka, Farsi, Fijian, Korean, Macedonian, Russian, Samoan, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Tongan, Turkish, Vietnamese). Please note that the reporting information at the end of each brochure is, of course, irrelevant in Victoria, and the brochure does not cover current Victorian laws in regards to child safety.

A fact sheet on Cultural Safety can be found here.

Children with disabilities

Children and young people with some types of disabilities are often at greater risk of child abuse as offenders often target those they see as most vulnerable. Many of our members – both children and adults – have disabilities of various kinds, and we work with them to adjust activities to ensure they’re involved in everything that they possibly can be.

Children with disabilities can also be at a higher risk of child abuse if they require more personal care. We encourage parents and guardians to take an active role in discussing with their child’s leaders exactly what care their child needs, as well as helping their Scout Group source appropriate care for their child – whether it’s attending events as a carer for their child themselves, or finding someone else in their community able to do so. The National Disability Insurance Scheme may even be able to help with this.

Some children with disabilities will also have a carer attending activities and camps with them. Some carers may need to assist the youth member they are caring for in ways that would otherwise be considered a breach of our guidelines, such as helping a young person to use the toilet, or sharing a tent. These exceptions can be made, but reinforce the need for parents or guardians to discuss the requirements of their child’s needs, and the child’s own views must be taken into account.

Signs of abuse in children with disabilities may be different depending on the disability, both to other disabilities and to those without any disabilities.

Gender and sexually diverse children

Children and young people who identify as LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, or other) face a unique set of challenges. It is imperative that they feel welcomed and accepted in a Scout Group, and that they are supported through any challenges that they may face. Scouts Victoria is currently developing a set of resources for Leaders and others who are supporting a young person (or, indeed, an adult) who identifies as LGBTIQ+. In the meantime, we direct you to resources from The Scout Association UK, and remind you of some key things to remember when a child in your group questions their gender or sexual identity, or comes out as a member of the LGBTIQ+ community:

  • Discriminating against, or being abusive (particularly emotionally or psychologically) towards an LGBTIQ+ youth member (or adult), just like abusive or discriminatory behaviour towards any other members, is against our Code of Conduct. All adult members of Scouting are required to sign this Code of Conduct, and behaviour that does not follow this Code of Conduct can result in the termination of membership.
  • Bullying is not accepted in Scouts and should be dealt with, at least initially, by the Scout Group.
  • Families of youth members are expected to behave appropriately while attending Scouting events and activities, or when communicating with other members of the group. Scouts Victoria will not tolerate abusive behaviour and will take necessary steps to protect all its members who are undertaking Scouting activities.
  • Scouts Victoria does not require boys and girls to sleep in separate tents. The only requirements are that all children (and their families) are comfortable with the arrangements.
  • If a member asks to be identified by a different name, or wishes different pronouns to be used to refer to them, it is important to respect their wishes. Acceptance is vital to ensuring the mental wellbeing of our members.
  • Our registration system allows our members’ gender to be recorded as male, female, or other. It is important to remember that by ‘gender’ we mean what the young person identifies as, as opposed to their biological sex, and the gender that the person in question identifies as must be respected. We use this information for demographic analysis of our membership, to see who is in our membership, where we’re doing well, and where we need to improve. If a member starts identifying as a different gender to the one that they were registered under, regardless of whether they are a youth member or adult, they simply need to contact the Victorian Scout Centre for the change to be made.
  • Youth members who wish to be identified by a different name than the one they were registered under can easily be registered under a new name with their parent/ guardians’ permission. Particularly for older youth members, though, it is important to also note the requirements for adult members, explained below.
  • We do require adult members to be registered using the name listed on the identity documents they provide when registering; for Rovers who have linked from Venturers, this includes the name listed on their Working with Children Check. We must have our members identifiable by their legal name to ensure the safety of all our members. Of course, if an adult changes their name legally, this can be easily updated with proof of name change documents through the Victorian Scout Centre. However, we do also provide the option of listing a preferred name, which does not need to be listed on any identity documents.
  • Support services for LBGTIQ+ young people can be found in the support services section at the bottom of this page.

The history of Child Safe Scouting

Scouting has been proactive on child protection since the 1930s, when local areas were warned to be vigilant and show no mercy in denying membership to unsuitable people. In the 1940s, local areas were advised that any inappropriate behaviour must be reported to the police. Police checks for aspiring Scout Leaders began in the 1960s – nearly 50 years before the Working With Children Check.

A factsheet with more details on the history of Child Safe Scouting can be found here.


Scouts Victoria and the Betrayal of Trust report

Scouts Victoria has cooperated fully with the Victorian Government’s Betrayal of Trust inquiry. You can find the completed report here, and Scouts Victoria's submissions - and appendices to the submissions - to the enquiry here.

You can also find, following the Betrayal of Trust’s inquiry, Scouts Victoria’s submission to ‘A Victorian redress scheme for institutional child abuse’.

Scouts Australia and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

As Scouts Victoria is only one of eight Branches that make up the National Scout Organisation here in Australia, our national body, Scouts Australia, has been the point of contact for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. For more information on this, please see the Scouts Australia webpage. Further information can also be found here.

Child Safe Standards

Managed by the Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP), Victoria’s Child Safe Standards (CSS) are a set of mandatory requirements to protect our youth members from harm and abuse.

Scouts Victoria embraced the Child Safe Standards when they commenced in Victoria in 2016 and undertook a systematic review in preparation for the new and expended set of Standards that came into force on July 1, 2022.

In addition to expanding and strengthening the previous Child Safe Standards, the new Child Safe Standards have placed renewed importance upon involving families and the wider Scouting community in our continuing efforts to keep our youth members safe, managing the risk to our youth members in online environments, and a greater focus on the safety of vulnerable young people.

For further information about the new Child Safe Standards, click here.

Signs of abuse or neglect

From the Scouts Australia National Child Protection Policy 2016:

  • Is the child:
    • o Displaying a fear for their safety or wellbeing?
    • o Showing unexplained/ unlikely physical injuries; eg. bruises, scalds, burns, cuts, marks, fractures, sprains, strains, dislocations?
    • o Seeming to regularly be underfed, not have a suitable place to sleep, or lack basic suitable clothing?
    • o Regularly speaking negatively of themselves?
    • o Suddenly unusually aggressive or overly compliant?
    • o Suddenly unusually fearful, anxious or regressive?
    • o Persistently or significantly inappropriately talking about or displaying sexual activity that is not age appropriate?
    • o Regularly mentioning unexplained health or wellbeing concerns; eg. stomach aches, headaches, crying, heightened sensitivity?
    • o Expressing or suggesting suicidal thoughts?
  • Is there any suggestion by the child or others of grooming behaviour by any adult in contact with the child; eg. special gifts, secrets, alone time together, special names, online contact?
  • Has anyone else suggested that any of the above may apply to a child, including other children?


From the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, Queensland Government. Accessed 21.10.2016:

Physical abuse

Physical indicators:

  • unexplained cuts, abrasions, bruising or swelling
  • unexplained burns or scalds, cigarette burns
  • rope burns or marks on arms, legs, neck, torso
  • unexplained fractures, strains or sprains; dislocation of limbs
  • bite marks
  • dental injuries
  • ear or eye injuries.

Behavioural signs:

  • avoidance of particular staff, fear of a particular person
  • sleep disturbances
  • changes in behaviour (e.g. unusual mood swings, uncharacteristic aggression)
  • changes in daily routine, changes in appetite
  • unusual passivity, withdrawal
  • self-harm, suicide attempts
  • inappropriate explanations of how injuries occurred
  • excessive compliance to staff.

Sexual abuse

Physical indicators:

  • direct or indirect disclosure of abuse or assault
  • trauma to the breasts, buttocks, lower abdomen or thighs
  • difficulty walking or sitting
  • pain or itching in genital and/or anal area; bruising, bleeding or discharge
  • self-harm, abuse, suicide attempts
  • torn, stained or blood-stained underwear or bedclothes
  • sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy
  • unexplained money or gifts.

Behavioural signs:

  • sleep disturbances
  • changes in eating patterns
  • inappropriate or unusual sexual behaviour or knowledge
  • changes in social patterns
  • sudden or marked changes in behaviour or temperament
  • anxiety attacks, panic attacks, clinical depression
  • refusal to attend usual places (e.g. work, school, respite)
  • going to bed fully clothed
  • excessive compliance to staff.

Psychological/emotional abuse

Physical indicators:

  • speech disorders
  • in the case of a child, lags in physical development, failure to thrive
  • injuries sustained from self-harm or abuse
  • suicide attempts
  • anxiety attacks.

Behavioural signs:

  • self-harm or self-abusive behaviours
  • challenging/extreme behaviours
  • excessive compliance to staff
  • very low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness
  • clinical depression
  • marked decrease in interpersonal skills
  • extreme attention-seeking behaviour.


Physical indicators:

  • physical wasting, unhealthy weight levels
  • poor dental health
  • food from meals left on face and/or clothes throughout the day
  • dirty, unwashed body and/or face, body odour
  • person always wearing the same clothes
  • ill-fitting and/or unwashed clothes
  • person is always over- or underdressed for the weather conditions
  • food is consistently poor quality, insufficient, inedible and/or unappetising.

Behavioural signs:

  • constant tiredness
  • persistent hunger
  • unexpectedly poor social/interpersonal skills
  • signs of loss of communication and other skills
  • staff member, service provider, carer or support person consistently fails to bring the person to appointments, events, activities
  • person is persistently denied opportunities to socialise with others in the community.

You can also find more information at our factsheet here.

What about abuse of adult members?

If you, or another adult you know, has been abused during a Scouting activity or by another Scouting member, please contact the State Commissioner Personnel on, or, where someone is in immediate danger, contact 000. If a serious incident has occurred, please report it to the Incident Report line, on 03 8543 9877 or

What about abuse by non-Scouting members?

Adult Members are often the only trusted person for some of our youth members, observations by you may make all the difference to a child who is being abused. If you receive a disclosure of abuse (or observe injuries or behaviour symptomatic of abuse) of a youth member we ask you to make a report. We can then provide the appropriate assistance for you to support the youth member and reporting it to the appropriate authorities.

National Redress Scheme

Scouts Victoria and Scouts Australia are and always have been fully supportive of the introduction of a Redress Scheme.

You can find, following the Betrayal of Trust’s inquiry, Scouts Victoria’s submission to ‘A Victorian redress scheme for institutional child abuse’ here.

As the National Redress Scheme announced in November 2016 is to operate at a national level, Scouts Australia will be taking the lead.

Photographs and privacy

Every member, upon joining Scouts, signs a permission form that provides Scouts Victoria with permission to use their photos for publication online and elsewhere.

Scouts Victoria never publishes the full name of a child alongside their image without the express permission of that child’s parent or guardian, and we suggest that all Scout Groups in Victoria follow the same guideline.

If, for any reason, you do not wish to give consent to your child’s or your own image being used in promotional material for your Group or elsewhere, ensure that the Leaders in your Group are aware of this. Additionally ensure that anyone taking photos is aware, as it is very easy to take and share.

Social media and Scouting online

Social media and the internet form an integral part of the life of most young people today. It’s important, however, that everyone – young and old – is aware of the way in which they are using these online services and the impacts they can have. We are currently updating our Scouts Victoria social media guidelines, please check back for more information soon.

Please direct any questions to our marketing team via

Child Safe Scouting at Major Events

For information about Child Safe Scouting at Major Events click here

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