The National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, welcomes the Prime Minister's confirmation that the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has endorsed National Principles for Child Safe Organisations.
"The National Principles for Child Safe Organisations form a national benchmark for organisations working with children and young people across sectors and the country to develop and maintain a child safe culture. I am proud to have worked with the Australian Government in developing and promoting the National Principles," said Commissioner Mitchell.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse 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.
At the request of the Australian Government, the National Children’s Commissioner led the development of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, which are based on the ten child safe standards recommended by the Royal Commission. The National Principles have a broader scope than sexual abuse and cover other forms of harm. They are grounded in a child rights approach, which recognises children and young people as active participants.
"These National Principles have been developed in consultation with national sector peak bodies, national advocacy and research organisations, Commonwealth, state and territory governments, and with children and young people themselves.
"The Australian community should be confident that all organisations working with children and young people provide safe environments where their rights, needs and interests are met. I hope all organisations take the time to consider how they can implement these National Principles, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people," Commissioner Mitchell said.
To support organisations to implement the National Principles, the Australian Human Rights Commission has developed practical tools and resources, which, along with the National Principles, are available at https://childsafe.humanrights.gov.au/
These tools and resources include:
The Introductory self-assessment tool for organisations which will help organisations consider their current child safe practices and areas for improvement
The Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy template that addresses the ten National Principles
The Example Code of Conduct that organisations can adapt to set out expected standards of behaviour when engaging with children and young people
The Charter of Commitment to children and young people template which would be developed in consultation with children and young people in the organisation
The Checklist for online safety, developed with the Office of the e-Safety Commissioner, that assists organisations to consider potential safeguarding risks and aspects of online safety to better protect children and young people.
The Guide for parents and carers helps parents and carers to think about how an organisation operates and to consider its safety and wellbeing arrangements for children
Currently, the Australian Human Rights Commission is developing e-learning tools for each of the National Principles. These will be available free of charge on its childsafe human rights website later this year.
"Children make up nearly a quarter of Australia’s population. We owe it to every single one of them to make sure we do all we can to protect and empower them. I look forward to continuing to help drive national implementation of the Principles across the whole Australian community," said Ms Mitchell.