This update relates to continuing reviews of current child protection legislations and regulations. New compliance requirements are now in effect and more are coming.
Three Commonwealth Royal Commissions (Child Sexual Abuse, Aged Care and Disability) and numerous other State and Federal inquires have exposed the harrowing realities and deficiencies with current practice in how our nation supports our most vulnerable.
A reflection of these findings is found in the exponential growth in claims being experience by the Insurance sector.
Now, just as with OHS/WPHS, the operating landscape has changed forever and will continue to do so. A zero tolerance approach to harm being perpetrated on the vulnerable now exists across the care sector.
Organisations are increasingly required to comply with a growing array of Principles, Standards, legislation and regulation designed to improve the safety of vulnerable children and adults. The following provides links and cursory information on the latest changes.
List of Child Protection Legislations
A full and accurate list of relevant child protection legislation can be found via the Australian Institute of Family Studies website:
Australian child protection legislation | Child Family Community Australia (aifs.gov.au)
Criminal laws for Failure to Report & Failure to Protect Legislation are now in place VIC, NSW, ACT, QLD, TAS and NT. Other States have their own responses. Organisations need to be aware that it is now a criminal offence in most jurisdictions for any person, this includes staff not just management, to fail to report a suspected or known incident of child sexual assault or to fail to protect a victim of suspected sexual abuse.
The various mandatory requirements for all Australian jurisdictions can be found via the Australian Institute of Family Studies website:
Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect | Child Family Community Australia (aifs.gov.au)
Update-Implementation Child Safe Principles AS AT July 2021
New South Wales (NSW)
NSW is in the process of implementing a regulatory framework that supports implementation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s (Royal Commission) Child Safe Standards. If the Bill successfully passes through NSW Parliament, legislation will be embedding the requirements, as well as giving the Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) NSW powers to monitor implementation of the Child Safe Standards and investigate complaints about an organisation’s implementation of the Child Safe Standards. The OCG has released advice that it considers organisations in NSW that are implementing the National Principles will be simultaneously implementing the Child Safe Standards.
More information the Children’s Guardian Amendment (Child Safe Scheme) Bill 2021 [NSW] is available here: Children’s Guardian Amendment (Child Safe Scheme) Bill 2021
And the OCG’s guide to the Child Safe Standards is available here: A Guide to the Child Safe Standards
All organisations that provide services or facilities for children are required to comply with the VIC Child Safe Standards. The VIC Commission for Children and Young People is the oversight body for the Child Safe standards, and has powers to oversee and enforce organisations’ compliance with the Child Safe Standards. VIC reviewed its Child Safe Standards in 2019 and 2020. Recommendations from the review included amending the VIC Child Safe Standards to align with the National Principles. More information on VIC’s Child Safe Standards is available on the Commission for Children and Young People website: Being a Child Safe Organisation
Information on the review of the VIC Child Safe Standards is available via the following DHHS publication: Review of the Victoria Child Safe Standards
QLD has existing mandatory requirements for institutions that provide services to children to apply best practice and mitigate risks of harm. Under the Working with Children (Risk Management and Screening) Act 2000 (QLD), institutions are required to develop and implement a child and youth risk management strategy which promotes the wellbeing of a child. QLD is also in the process of considering and developing options for implementation and oversight of the Child Safe Standards. More information is available in QLD’s Third Annual Progress report in response to the Royal Commission: Queensland Government Response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
Western Australia (WA)
WA does not currently have a legislated approach to implementation of the Child Safe Standards and/or the National Principles. However, the WA Department of Communities is working across government agencies, the community services sector, peak bodies and other jurisdictions to drive implementation of the National Principles through existing regulatory mechanisms and funding agreements. The WA Department of the Premier and Cabinet is leading policy work to develop and independent oversight system, which includes monitoring and enforcement of the National Principles. More information is available at: National Principles for Child Safe Organisations
South Australia (SA)
Through its Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 (SA) and Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016 (SA), SA requires organisations providing services to children and young people to provide child safe environments. The SA Department of Human Services monitors this scheme. The SA Government have advised the National Principles have replaced the former SA Principles of Good Practice (the previous minimum requirements organisations were required to meet in order demonstrate that appropriate steps had been taken to ensure safe environments for children and young people) and from 1 July 2021, all organisations developing child safe policies and procedures must, align with the National Principles and reflect the SA legislative context. More information is available on the SA Department of Human Services website: National Principles for child safe organisations
TAS is in the process of developing a child safe legislative framework based on the recommendations contained in Volume 6 Making Institutions Child Safe report of the Royal Commission. Consultations on the draft Child Safe Organisations Bill 2020 (TAS) were held from December 2020 to February 2021. TAS is in the process of considering feedback received through the consultation process and updating the draft Bill. More information is available via the Tasmania Government Department of Justice website: Child Safe Organisations Bill 2020 – Have your say
Northern Territory (NT)
The NT does not currently have a legislated approach to child safety in organisations, however it is progressing work to adopt national child safe standards. More information is available in the NT 2020 Generational Change Impact Report: 2020 Generational Change Impact Report
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
The ACT is progressing work to introduce a Child Safe Standards scheme, which will adopt the National Principles and be overseen by the ACT Human Rights Commission. More information is available via the ACT Government response to the Rpyal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Making institutions child safe