Advancing child safety: one year on

Released 15/12/2018 - Joint media release

One year since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse handed down its Final Report, the ACT Government has implemented a number of key recommendations to better protect children from institutional child abuse.

The important work of the Royal Commission has acknowledged the suffering of victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse and identified improvements that must be made by governments, institutions and other providers of services to children and young people.

In the Government’s formal response to the Royal Commission, we committed to addressing all of the 307 recommendations relevant to us, because we recognise and value the significant role we can take in advancing a culture of child safety in the ACT.

We have been implementing recommendations from the Royal Commission since they began to be issued in 2015 and have continued to work with those who will be affected, to ensure we get the best outcomes for children and young people in the ACT.

Our first annual progress report is available at Royal Commission website.

Over the past year our key achievements include:

  • Completing the majority of recommendations relating to redress and civil litigation, as a result of the ACT Government joining the National Redress Scheme from 1 July 2018.
  • Implementing more recommendations from the Royal Commission’s Criminal Justice report, including the introduction of two new grooming offences, a new offence for the failure to protect from child sexual abuse, and changes to sentencing provisions.
  • Progressing legislative amendments of the Education Act 2004 and the ACT Teacher Quality Institute Act 2010, to improve child safety and information sharing.
  • Extensive ongoing collaboration with all jurisdictions to develop and implement National Standards for Working with Children Checks, and to establish nationally consistent parameters for worker screening.
  • Expanding our Reportable Conduct Scheme on 1 July 2018 to include religious institutions providing pastoral care and religious instruction.
  • Ending the ability to use the ‘Ellis defence’ in the ACT with the Civil Law (Wrongs) (Child Abuse Claims Against Unincorporated Bodies) Act 2018, to ensure survivors are able to take civil action against institutions, regardless of the legal structure of the institution.
  • Establishing the new Inspector of Correctional Services to independently oversee the operation of adult and youth detention systems in the ACT.

Over the coming year our areas of focus will include:

  • Consulting on recommendations that have implications for the religious confessional seal, in relation to mandatory reporting. An expert consultant’s report will be provided to government in early 2019.
  • Ending transitional arrangements that currently exclude reportable conduct disclosed in the course of religious confession from the Reportable Conduct Scheme on 1 April 2019.
  • Amending legislation to enhance the operation and administration of the Working With Vulnerable People Scheme.
  • Collaborating with the Commonwealth and other State and Territory governments on recommendations agreed as national priorities, such as developing the National Framework on Child Safety and Child Safe Standards, information sharing, record keeping and data collection; and addressing the complex issue of children with harmful sexual behaviours.

Consultation is currently underway on the readiness of ACT institutions and the community sector to implement Child Safe Standards, with a survey open until 20 December 2018.

This and all other consultations on implementing the Royal Commission’s recommendations is available on the ACT Government’s YourSay website.

The work of the Royal Commission and the ACT Government’s response may bring up strong feelings and questions. Be assured you are not alone, and that there are many services and support groups available to assist. Some options for advice and support include 1800 Respect, Lifeline on 13 11 14 and the National Redress Information Line on 1800 737 377.

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Section: Andrew Barr, MLA | Gordon Ramsay, MLA | Media Releases

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