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Role of Australian Government agencies

 

The Australian Government has focused on protecting children from institutional sexual abuse and address issues for survivors and victims since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse started in 2013.

The government is determined to address the wrongs of the past and to take meaningful action to ensure children in institutional care are safe.

The government is committed to a range of changes and new initiatives around the governance of institutional care and the ways in which we engage with survivors and victims of abuse. These are categorised into the following areas:

Improving national leadership and coordination

Implementation Taskforce

On 15 December 2017, the Australian Government announced that a Child Abuse Royal Commission Implementation Taskforce would be established in the Attorney-General's Department.

The taskforce coordinates action across Australian Government agencies on all 409 recommendations of the Royal Commission and tracks the progress made by all Australian Governments. The taskforce works with state and territory governments to promote national coordination and consistency in responding to the Royal Commission recommendations, and will operate until June 2020.

National Office for Child Safety

As recommended by the Royal Commission, the Australian Government established the National Office for Child Safety (NOCS) within the Department of Social Services.

The NOCS commenced on 1 July 2018. The NOCS takes a national leadership role and works across governments and institutions to develop and implement policies and strategies to keep children safe. The NOCS also plays an important role in supporting and implementing many of the recommendations of the Royal Commission. For more information on the NOCS, visit the Department of Social Services website.

Appointment of the Assistant Minister for Children and Families

In December 2017, the Australian Government created a ministerial portfolio with responsibility for children's policy issues and appointed the Hon Dr David Gillespie MP as Assistant Minister for Children and Families.

The Assistant Minister leads work on the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020 and drives policies to support children and families, including working closely with the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Dan Tehan MP and other Ministers to improve children's safety and wellbeing.

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Establishing child safe organisations and frameworks

National Principles for Child Safe Organisations and Child Safe Standards

In 2017, the Australian Government asked the National Children's Commissioner, Ms Megan Mitchell, to lead the development of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations.

The principles have been developed under the third action plan of the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-2020 in collaboration with state and territory governments.

The national principles have been refined through national consultations with sector representatives, advocacy bodies and academics led by the National Children's Commissioner. As recommended by the Royal Commission, the national principles incorporate the child safe standards referred to in the Royal Commission's final report.

The Australian Government acknowledges the leadership of states and territories who have already undertaken to improve child safety through the development and implementation of standards and frameworks. The national principles are not intended to override these efforts but to create a national minimum benchmark that all jurisdictions will at least meet. In some cases, jurisdictions are already exceeding this benchmark.

The implementation of the national principles across jurisdictions should start with jurisdictional efforts to recognise the national principles as an overarching national approach.

The Australian Government looks forward to opportunities to work with state and territories and the non-government sector to make organisations across Australia safe for children and to learn from each other.

Commonwealth Child Safe Framework

On 22 August 2017, the Australian Government agreed to a Commonwealth Child Safe Framework to promote and ensure the safety and wellbeing of children in Commonwealth care.

The framework sets out child safety requirements for Commonwealth entities including the requirement for the adoption and implementation of the National Principles, which incorporate the child safe standards recommended by the Royal Commission.

Under the framework, Australian Government entities are to ensure that staff working with children and young people comply with relevant child safety laws. This includes contractors working in Australian Government entities under employment contracts (such as non-ongoing and temporary staff).

The Australian Government is currently considering how the framework can be applied to Commonwealth funded organisations.

Defence Youth Safety Reform

In December 2015, the Department of Defence launched the Defence Youth Safety Framework, which was developed in response to the work of the Royal Commission and other Defence inquiries.

The framework ensures that Defence is a youth safe organisation with appropriate and consistent approaches to youth safety and youth safety governance. The framework comprises policy, training, governance and assurance elements which apply across the Australian Defence Force, Army, Navy and Airforce.

For more information, visit the Defence youthHQ website.

Safe Sport Australia

In the 2018 Budget, the Australian Government announced a social change initiative across Australia called 'Safe Sport Australia'. Safe Sport Australia will create awareness of positive child safe sport practices and the exchange of child safe information and resources.

Safe Sport Australia will digitally connect millions of Australians in the grass roots sport community, targeting parents, other adults involved in sport and children. It will also incorporate the child safe standards identified by the Royal Commission.

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) is working with National Sporting Organisations (NSOs) to ensure child safety is embedded not only within the organisation itself, but the sport as a whole. In 2014, the ASC engaged the services of the Australian Childhood Foundation who completed a blueprint report on the capacity of sport to protect children and young people from abuse, harm and exploitation. This work led to the development of the ASC's Child Safe Sport toolkit and resources for sporting organisations. The implementation for these resources has been supported by training (online and face-to-face) and awareness-raising sessions with sporting organisations, and the ASC is committed to continuing this work in response to identified needs and gaps in the sport sector.

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Ensuring online safety and security for children

Office of the eSafety Commissioner

In 2015, the Australian Government implemented measures to create a safer online environment for Australian children.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner (eSafety Office) was established to help protect people from cyberbullying harm and to take a national leadership role in online safety. The eSafety Office works with children, parents, teachers, schools and universities as well as with government and non-government organisations.

The Royal Commission's recommendations relating to online safety involve existing work undertaken by the eSafety Office and other Australian Government agencies.

For more information visit the Office of the eSafety Commissioner website.

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

In March 2018, the Australian Government announced the establishment of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE). The ACCCE will drive a national effort to combat a global epidemic of child abuse and create a hub of expertise and specialist skills needed to disrupt, prevent and investigate the exploitation of children.

By bringing together the expertise of the Australian Federal Police, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, AUSTRAC, the Office of the  Cyber Coordinator, Australian Border Force, Australian Institute of Criminology and the Department of Home Affairs, law enforcement officials anticipate the ACCCE will identify and remove more than 200 child victims from harm each year. The work will complement existing federal-state joint anti child exploitation teams in each state.

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Providing support for victims and survivors

National Redress Scheme

The Australian Government committed to establishing a National Redress Scheme (Redress Scheme) to support people who were sexually abused as children while in the care of an institution.

The Redress Scheme commenced on 1 July 2018 and will run for 10 years.

For more information visit the National Redress Scheme website.

National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse

The Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, will deliver the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse on 22 October 2018.

The Australian Government's decision to deliver the National Apology follows the release of the Royal Commission's final report in December 2017.

The government has appointed an independent, survivor-focused Reference Group to advise on the form and content of the National Apology. A national consultation process is being undertaken by the Reference Group to reach out to survivors, their families and support people, to inform the content of the National Apology and the ceremony where it will be delivered.

For more information, visit the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse website.

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