Reportable Conduct Scheme and the Child and Youth Safe Standards in Tasmania


The Final Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission), published on 15 December 2017, considered the prevalence of child sexual abuse within institutions and how organisations can safeguard children against abuse and maltreatment through proactive and nationally recognised measures which place children and young people’s safety and well-being at the forefront of their practice. 

The Royal Commission made a large number of recommendations to address child abuse within organisations, including recommendations that each state and territory develop a Reportable Conduct Scheme and each State and Territory adopt 10 recognised Child Safe Standards which align with Article 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

On 1 January 2024, Tasmania commenced both the Reportable Conduct Scheme (Scheme) and the Child and Youth Safe Standards (Standards) to address the recommendations put forward by the Royal Commission. This is a significant development in child safety and safeguarding in Tasmania and follows other states who already have Reportable Conduct Schemes and Child Safe Standards in operation. The Office of the Independent Regulator (Independent Regulator) will be the independent body administering the Scheme.

An Overview of Reportable Conduct

The Scheme requires leaders of specific organisations to notify the Independent Regulator ‘upon becoming aware of conduct related to child abuse involving an adult worker’ and conduct investigations into allegations of child abuse. Any conduct which another person reasonably believes may have occurred must be reported, regardless of whether the leader of an organisation reasonably believes it occurred. The Scheme applies to any employee, volunteer or contractor over the age of 18 engaged with an organisation related to children.

The Scheme requires leaders of an organisation to notify the Independent Regulator within three days of becoming aware of an allegation and must commence an investigation as soon as possible. Leaders of an organisation must also provide an update to the Independent Regulator within 30 days and must provide investigation findings, reasons for the findings and actions to the Independent Regulator at the conclusion of the investigation.

The Scheme includes six types of reportable conduct:

  1. Sexual offences and sexual misconduct is defined as any offence set out in Chapter XIV of the Criminal Code Act 1924 (Tas) and any misconduct including inappropriate behaviour, physical contact, voyeurism, or speech and communication which is ‘performed in a sexual matter or with a sexual intention’ and does not meet the acceptable standard of behaviour expected of an employee or volunteer.
  2. Grooming is defined as using a series of controlling and manipulative behaviours to engage with a child for the purpose of establishing trust to normalise sexually harmful behaviours and engage in sexual offences or sexual misconduct against a child.
  3. Physical violence is defined as the intentional or reckless application of physical force against a child such as hitting, punching, kicking or spitting, or the apprehension of immediate and unlawful violence against a child such a words or actions which suggest to a child that physical violence will occur.
  4. Significant emotional or psychological harm is defined as harm to a child’s well-being and/or development which is ‘more than trivial’ but does not need to be long-lasting or permanent, and can include exposure to domestic and family violence, verbal abuse, or humiliation of a child in front of others.
  5. Significant neglect is defined as the deliberate or reckless failure to meet a child’s basic needs through supervisory neglect, physical neglect, educational neglect or emotional neglect.
  6. Other relevant offences include sexual offences under the Criminal Code Act 1924 (Tas), female genital mutilation, inciting to commit a relevant offence, attempting to commit a relevant offence, being an accessory after the fact to a relevant offence, and failing to report child abuse.

An Overview of the Child and Youth Safe Standards

The 10 Standards form part of Tasmania’s Child and Youth Safe Organisations Framework and mirror the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. Organisations working with children are required to comply with the Standards to ensure the safety and well-being of children and young people and prevent abuse and maltreatment of children and young people engaged with an organisation.

The 10 Standards adopted by Tasmania and regulated through the Independent Regulator include:

  1. Child safety and well-being 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 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 focussed.
  7. Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training.
  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 Standards is regularly reviewed and improved.
  10. Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.

When organisations put the Standards into practice, they are required to give effect to the Universal Principle for Aboriginal Cultural Safety and are required to provide an environment that ensures the right to cultural safety of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children and young people. Organisations must ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are respected, feel safe to be themselves, and their sense of self, identity and culture is nurtured and encouraged.

How should organisations prepare for these changes?

Organisations operating in Tasmania must ensure they are acting now to ensure that they are compliant with the Scheme and the Standards. We recommend that organisations should ensure:

  • Appropriate complaints processes are set up which are fully compliant with the Scheme.
  • Policies and procedures are up to date to reflect the new obligations under the Scheme and reflect their commitment to the Standards.
  • Consider outsourcing child safety investigations to ensure that appropriately qualified investigators with experience in child safety conduct investigations in compliance with the Scheme.
  • Training is provided to staff in relation to the operation of the Scheme and the Standards.

How can Safe Space Legal Help?

The team at Safe Space Legal have extensive experience conducting reportable conduct investigations and work with organisations across Australia to ensure they are meeting their legal obligations when working with children and young people. Safe Space Legal offer a large range of services including:

  • Drafting child safety policies, procedures, codes of conduct and complaints handling processes which are compliant with legislative requirements;
  • Providing tailored child safety training on legal obligations, duty of care, reportable conduct schemes and child safety;
  • Conducting child safety and safeguarding investigations which are compliant with relevant state and territory Schemes;
  • Providing expert legal advice on safeguarding and child safety matters;
  • Conducting audits against the Standards to recognise practice and policy gaps and improve organisational safeguarding; and
  • Root cause analysis of child safety incidents to improve organisational safeguarding and compliance with legislative obligations.

Contact [email protected] or call (03) 9124 7321 to organise a complementary discussion in relation to your organisation’s child safety and safeguarding needs.

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