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Child Safe Organisations project

Children's Children's Rights
Monday 16 April, 2018

About the Child Safe Organisations project

As part of the Child Safe Organisations project, the National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, is leading the development of National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

This project has been commissioned by the Australian Government, with consultation from the states and territories, as part of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 and in connection with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The goal is to build child safe cultures in organisational settings to advance the safety and wellbeing of children and young people across Australia. 

The final National Principles will be submitted to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) for endorsement in mid-2018.

The Child Safe Organisations project is developing and testing practical tools and resources to help organisations implement the National Principles.

 

Background: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

A wide range of organisations engage with children and young people across Australia. Some of these are small, like local sports clubs or playgroups. Others – such as schools, hospitals or religious institutions – might be large and might operate across a number of states and territories.

Many organisations employ staff and/or engage volunteers to work with and provide services to children and young people.

Members of the public, parents and carers, and children and young people should be confident that all organisations engaging with children provide safe environments where children’s rights, needs and interests are met.

The recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that, across Australia, many organisations over many years failed children. They failed to protect children from abuse, failed to listen to children, and failed to respond decisively when abuse came to light.

In its final report in December 2017, the Royal Commission set out ten standards for making institutions in Australia child safe. It recommended that the ten child safe standards be adopted as part of the National Statement of Principles for Child Safe Organisations, and that COAG endorse the National Principles.

The Royal Commission’s recommendations

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse made a wide range of final recommendations.

Of particular relevance for the Child Safe Organisations project, the Royal Commission recommended that:

  • The Australian Government require all institutions that engage in child-related work for the Australian Government, including Commonwealth agencies, to meet the child safe standards.
  • The Australian Government evaluate, publicly report on and drive continuous improvement of the implementation of the child safe standards, and coordinate national capacity building and support initiatives.
  • State and territory governments require all institutions in their jurisdictions that engage in child-related work to meet the child safe standards.
  • State and territory governments ensure that an independent oversight body in each state and territory is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the child safe standards, along with providing information, advice and capacity building to institutions and the community.

The Royal Commission also recommended:

  • A new National Framework for Child Safety, to include a national strategy to prevent child sexual abuse.
  • A new National Office for Child Safety, initially within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, to be transitioned to a federal statutory body within 18 months. The National Office would perform the Australian Government’s child safe standards functions, and lead the development of the new National Framework.
National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

As part of the Child Safe Organisations project, Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, is leading the development of National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

The National Principles reflect the Royal Commission’s ten child safe standards, with a broader scope that goes beyond sexual abuse to also cover other forms of potential harm to children and young people.

Commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services, the National Principles aim to drive a child safe culture across organisations in all sectors, to protect the safety and wellbeing of children and young people across Australia.

The National Principles are being developed through a consultation process including Australian governments, national peak bodies from sectors that work with children and young people, national advocacy and research organisations, and children and young people.

Draft National Principles were endorsed by Commonwealth, State and Territory Community Services Ministers in October 2017. In February 2018, COAG welcomed progress on the National Principles; agreed that creating organisations where children are safe from abuse and neglect is a national priority; and agreed to respond to the Royal Commission’s recommendations in June 2018.

The draft National Principles were refined following further consultations from October 2017 to March 2018. The final National Principles will be considered by Community Services Ministers before being submitted to COAG for endorsement in mid-2018.

Implementation of the National Principles will proceed in line with the responses of Australian governments to the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

The Child Safe Organisations project is developing and testing practical tools and resources to help organisations implement the National Principles.

Click here for more information on the approach underlying the National Principles, an overview of the National Principles, and to read the draft National Principles.

Project updates

Updates on the Child Safe Organisations project are distributed by the National Children’s Commissioner in a monthly e-newsletter:

Subscribe to the e-newsletter to receive further updates on the Child Safe Organisations project.

Further information

To find out more about the Child Safe Organisations project:

You can also contact the Child Safe Organisations project team at childsafe@humanrights.gov.au.