The Importance of Protecting Children from Abuse in Your Organisation

In the past several years some very alarming claims have emerged from the Australian Government’s Royal Commission into institutional child sexual abuse.

In light of these, and also considering the numbers of children in Australia that suffer abuse before they reach 18 (as many as 59,000 per year), taking steps to ensure your organisational environment is safe for children is absolutely essential.

In this article we provide the recommendations from the Royal Commission’s report into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that you will need to keep in mind to make your activities as safe as possible. Though these are recommendations only, legislation continues to be updated in light of the findings of the Royal Commission.

Risk management and prevention

Prevention is of course always better than cure, so the first step in this involves developing a safe environment for children and young people. At the very least this involves conducting Working-With-Children and police checks for all employees, contractors and volunteers that will be working with children in your organisation.

Prevention really needs to go beyond the basic legalities however. It also needs to embrace Common Law and Duty of Care principles, such as developing sound practices and procedures for working with children, and creating a caring and loving environment. The Royal Commission’s report outlines 10 steps for Child Safety in organisations. Please visit the following site for full details. Royal Commission final report

Child abuse is extremely distressing for everyone involved, so it’s only natural you would want to do everything possible to prevent it from happening. Let’s do everything we can to protect our children whilst also limiting the risk of being sued – not a welcome occurrence!

10 Key elements in child safety

  1. Child safety is embedded in institutional leadership, governance and culture
  2. Children participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously
  3. Families and communities are informed and involved
  4. Equity is upheld and diverse needs are taken into account
  5. People working with children are suitable and supported
  6. Processes to respond to complaints of child sexual abuse are child focused
  7. Staff are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children safe through continual education and training
  8. Physical and online environments minimise the opportunity for abuse to occur
  9. Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is continuously reviewed and improved
  10. Policies and procedures document how the institution is child safe

Responding and reporting procedures

If an incidence of abuse does occur it’s important to know how to respond.

In this regard, guidelines and procedures on identifying, responding to and reporting suspected abuse should be drawn up, and all child-workers provided with the relevant training. A feedback and review process should also be implemented, to strengthen your organisation’s risk management procedures.

Further information on child safety and protection

It’s always important to keep abreast of any updates to child safety legislation in your state or territory. For more information on child safety in your region, please refer to the relevant link below.

Victoria – Health and Human Services

Tasmania – Department of Health and Human Services

New South Wales –  Office of the Children’s Guardian

South Australia – Department for Child Protection

Queensland – Blue Card Services

Western Australia – Department of Communities

A.C.T. – Child and Youth Protection Services

Northern Territory – Territory Families