National change to The National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

National Child Safe Principles

Child safety is a paramount concern across Australia, and developing comprehensive Child Safe Standards has been a crucial step towards protecting children and young people.

In 2017, the Royal Commission’s recommendations paved the way for creating the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. The Royal Commission recommended all organisations who work with children and young people embed child safety into policy and practice in order to reduce the risk of child abuse and harm.

You can read more about the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse here.

In 2019, the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations were introduced on a federal level. Although the National Principles are not mandatory obligations, all states in Australia have endorsed the Principles and some states have enacted the National Principles into legislation.

The National Principles for Child Safe Organisations serve as a foundation for creating a unified approach to child safety, ensuring that organisations prioritise the protection and wellbeing of children and young people in both physical and online environments.

The National Principles for Child Safe Organisations are:

  1. Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture.
  2. Children and young people are informed about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.
  3. Families and communities are informed and involved in promoting child safety and well-being.
  4. Equity is upheld, and diverse needs are respected in policy and practice.
  5. People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and well-being values in practice.
  6. Processes to respond to complaints and concerns are child-focused.
  7. Through ongoing education and training, staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe.
  8. Physical and online environments promote safety and well-being while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed.
  9. Implementation of the national child safe principles is regularly reviewed and improved.
  10. Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.

Children and young people are inherently vulnerable to abuse and harm.  Children have a right to feel safe and be safe in all environments.  Exposing children and young people to abuse and harm may cause long-term trauma and impact their growth and development.  Organisations must take active steps to comply with their duty of care to mitigate risk of harm.

Since the introduction of The National Principles on a federal level, each state and territory has taken steps towards implementing statewide frameworks and reportable conduct schemes.

Some states have enacted a Reportable Conduct Scheme, which provides independent oversight and regulation of how organisations respond to allegations of child abuse and misconduct by staff. Each state has varying legislation with respect to the operation of the Reportable Conduct Scheme, however the purpose of the Scheme is consistent. 

Reportable Conduct Schemes are intended to improve institutional responses to child abuse and harm within organisations, allow for an independent regulator to oversee institutional responses,  and improve information sharing across government regulators and institutions. 

In addition to the respective Child Safe Standards and Reportable Conduct Schemes operating in Australia, organisations must also be aware of obligations to report child abuse and harm, including mandatory reporting obligations and criminal offences for failing to respond.  

Each state and territory in Australia has differing legislative requirements in relation to reporting and organisations must be fully aware and compliant to ensure that children and young people are safe.

Organisations must also be aware of other child safety obligations in relation to Screening requirements in each state and territory, where differing legislation exists about who is required to obtain screening prior to working with children and young people.

 Considerable penalties apply for individuals and organisations who fail to comply with screening obligations in each state.

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