Laws to protect children expanded to include religious institutions

Released 08/05/2018 - Joint media release

To protect Canberra’s children the ACT Government will expand its Reportable Conduct Scheme to include religious organisations, in line with recommendations from the child abuse Royal Commission.

Child abuse is unacceptable and there is no higher priority for this government than ensuring children’s safety.

The ACT’s Reportable Conduct Scheme requires organisations to report allegations or convictions of misconduct involving a child to the ACT Ombudsman, to ensure they are properly investigated and acted upon.

Religious institutions are already subject to the ACT’s Reportable Conduct Scheme when they’re providing school, childcare, health and out-of-home care services. The legislation we’re introducing this week will expand the scope of the Reportable Conduct Scheme to also cover activities, facilities, programs or services provided by religious organisations, from 1 July 2018.

The legislation includes a nine-month exclusion for information disclosed during a confession, acknowledging the complexity of such an inclusion. This period allows time for discussions with other jurisdictions in a national context and ongoing consultation with key local stakeholders.

The ACT Government has consulted with a wide variety of religious organisations on their inclusion in the Reportable Conduct Scheme, with a view to ensuring they have the information and resources they need to comply.

Establishing a reportable conduct scheme and including religious organisations are among the many recommendations from the Royal Commission that the ACT Government has been advancing over a number of years, along with criminal justice amendments and joining the national Redress Scheme.

Work continues, with the ACT Government on track to deliver our formal response to the Royal Commission in June. This will address all the recommendations that relate to State and Territory jurisdictions, such as working with vulnerable people checks, child safe standards, further criminal justice reforms, and implementing the national Redress Scheme.

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.

- Statement ends -

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

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