About the Child Safe Organisations project
As part of the Child Safe Organisations project, the Australian Government commissioned the National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, to lead the development of National Principles for Child Safe Organisations.
The National Principles were developed under the guidance of Community Services Ministers across Commonwealth, state and territory governments under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020. The Principles respond to recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Royal Commission found that many organisations in Australia failed to protect children from abuse, failed to listen to children who tried to disclose abuse, and failed to respond appropriately when abuse came to light.
To help ensure that this does not happen again, the National Principles aim to provide a nationally consistent approach to creating organisational cultures that foster child safety and wellbeing across all sectors. This will help to keep children and young people safe and reduce future harm in organisational settings.
As of February 2019, the National Principles have been endorsed by members of the Council of Australian Governments, including the Prime Minister and state and territory First Ministers.
Background: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
In 2013 the Australian Government established the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
In its final report in 2017, the Royal Commission set out ten standards for making institutions in Australia child safe. It recommended that the standards be adopted as part of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, and that the Council of Australian Governments endorse the National Principles. Those recommendations have now been met.
The Royal Commission also made many other recommendations. Of particular relevance for child safe organisations, 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.
In addition, the Royal Commission recommended:
- The development of a new National Framework for Child Safety, to include a national strategy to prevent child sexual abuse.
- The establishment of a new National Office for Child Safety in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, to be transitioned into an Australian Government statutory body within 18 months. The National Office would, among other functions, develop and lead the coordination of the new National Framework, including national coordination of the child safe standards.
In June 2018, the Australian Government tabled its response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations. The Australian Government accepted, or accepted in principle, each of the above recommendations. The National Children’s Commissioner welcomed the response.
As one element of its response, the Australian Government established the National Office For Child Safety in July 2018. The key activities of the National Office will include leading national coordination and implementation of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, working with the National Children’s Commissioner, states and territories and the non-government sector.