The Australian Human Rights Commission acknowledges the survivors, witnesses and families who contributed to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and calls on all Australian governments to implement its final recommendations.
“It wasn’t until they were adults that so many Australians who suffered unimaginable emotional, physical and sexual abuse as children were finally given a voice through this inquiry. We know that some lost their lives before their stories were heard,” National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell said.
“Now should be a time for healing and for doing what must be done to enable that healing. It is also a time to act on the lessons we have learned. The lasting legacy of this commission must be to protect the rights of children and place their safety at the heart of decision making.
“We have seen that when our children are silenced, abuse can go unchecked. This can never happen again.”
The Commissioner supports the establishment of a new National Office for Child Safety but notes the importance of the independence of such an office.
Building on the case studies, testimony and research of the Royal Commission, Commonwealth, state and territory ministers tasked Commissioner Mitchell to lead the development of national principles for child safety that will guide all organisations working with children and young people.
The principles set a benchmark for leadership, governance and culture, as well as complaints management, online safety and employee and volunteer screening. They apply to all organisations from local community sporting clubs to national recreation, education and care services, and churches.
“We are developing these principles so that all organisations providing services to children and young people have an agreed, national benchmark aligned with existing state and territory requirements that systematically protects children,” Commissioner Mitchell said.
“They will ensure children are informed, empowered and active participants in their communities.
“The public should be confident that organisations interacting with children are providing environments in which they are safe from harm.”
The development of the national principles is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services. The Commissioner recently released draft national principles for public consultation and is working with expert advisory groups to guide their implementation.
The National Statement of Principles for Child Safe Organisations consultation draft is available at www.humanrights.gov.au/child-safe.