The National Office For Child Safety
The National Office for Child Safety (the National Office) provides national leadership, working across governments and sectors, to deliver national policies and strategies to enhance children’s safety and reduce future harm to children.
Our priorities are:
- Collaborating with governments, sectors and the community to raise awareness and drive cultural change in institutions and the community to support child safety and wellbeing.
- Improving collaboration between jurisdictions and institutions to support design, development and implementation of national strategies and prevention initiatives.
- Promoting the participation and empowerment of children and young people in the design, development and evaluation of child safe initiatives.
- Leading capacity building and continuous improvement of child safe initiatives through resource development, best practice material, evaluation and reporting.
About the Office
The National Office was established on 1 July 2018 within the Department of Social Services. On 24 January 2019, the National Office moved to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. This reflects the importance of the work being led by the National Office and the high priority the Australian Government places on the safety and protection of children.
The National Office leads the development and implementation of a number of national initiatives recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission), including the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework and the National Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse.
The National Office’s role builds upon existing initiatives such as the National Redress Scheme and the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020. The establishment of the National Office does not change the statutory responsibilities of state and territory governments with regard to child protection or law enforcement.
National Principles for Child Safe Organisations
The National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (National Principles) were initiated by Community Services Ministers across Australia and developed by the National Children’s Commissioner through a national consultation process. Consultations on the National Principles and supporting resources involved key sectors across Australia engaging with children and young people, key advocacy groups, academics and children and young people.
The National Principles give effect to recommendations of the Royal Commission relating to the child safe standards. They provide a nationally consistent approach to cultivating organisational cultures that foster child safety and wellbeing across all sectors in Australia.
As of February 2019, the National Principles have been endorsed by members of the Council of Australian Governments, including the Prime Minister and state and territory First Ministers.
The National Office is leading national coordination and implementation of the National Principles, working with, states and territories, and the non-government sector to make organisations across Australia safe for children.
All governments are responsible for giving effect to the National Principles and determining compliance arrangements in their respective jurisdictions. The National Office will continue to work with all governments and the non-government sector to promote and support the implementation of the National Principles.
The National Office has been coordinating the development of a range of national resources and practical tools to inform organisations, parents and carers about the National Principles and support implementation across all sectors.
The following resources have been developed by the Office of the National Children’s Commissioner and can be accessed on the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Child Safe Organisations website:
- Introductory Self-Assessment Tool for Organisations
- Guide for Parents and Carers
- Example Code of Conduct
- Charter of Commitment
- Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy template
- Checklist for Online Safety (developed in partnership with the Office of the eSafety Commissioner)
In the coming months additional resources will become available, including online training modules on each of the principles, developed by the Office of the National Children’s Commissioner, and a Child Focused Complaint Handling Guide being developed by the Office of the NSW Ombudsman through a national consultation process.
A National Principles for Child Safe Organisations poster is also available for download.
The National Principles, Guide for Parents and Carers and Introductory Self-Assessment Tool for Organisations will shortly be available in 10 additional languages, including:
- Mandarin (simplified) (简体中文)
- Mandarin (traditional) (繁體中文)
- Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt)
- Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ)
- Filipino (Filipino/Tagalog)
- Hindi (हिन्दी)
- Korean (한국어)
- Arabic (العَرَبِيَّة)
- Italian (Italiano)
- Greek (Ελληνικά)
Commonwealth Child Safe Framework
The National Office is supporting implementation of the Australian Government’s child safety arrangements under the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework (the Framework). The Framework provides a consistent and transparent approach to child safety for Commonwealth entities.
The Framework sets minimum standards for creating and embedding child safe practice and culture in Commonwealth entities, by requiring them to:
- Undertake risk assessments annually in relation to their activities, to identify the level of responsibility for, and contact with, children and young people, evaluate the risk of harm or abuse, and put in place appropriate strategies to manage identified risks.
- Establish and maintain a system of training and compliance to make staff aware of and compliant with, the Framework and relevant legislation, including Working with Children Checks and mandatory reporting requirements.
- Adopt and implement the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations within 12 months of the Council of Australian Governments endorsement.
The Framework is also being rolled out to include requirements for third parties funded by the Commonwealth.
National Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse
The National Office is overseeing the design and implementation of a National Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse (the National Strategy).
The National Strategy will be developed in consideration of the Royal Commission’s recommendations and will encompass a range of initiatives with a particular focus on cultural change, including through education and awareness‑raising, and measures which provide victims of child sexual abuse with access to the right supports at the right time. It will also include specific consideration of the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, people with disability, and regional and remote communities.
The National Office has begun consultations with survivors of child sexual abuse and their support organisations, academics, practitioners, child protection experts and law enforcement to assist Government to understand priorities for the National Strategy.
The National Office is also undertaking co‑design workshops for the strategy in early 2019.
As part of its work to develop the National Strategy, the National Office is mapping existing and proposed initiatives, policies and services, which prevent, mitigate and respond to child sexual abuse across Australia.
The Royal Commission recommended that non-government institutions and peak bodies involved in child-related work report on their progress implementing the Royal Commission’s recommendations within 12 months of its Final Report.
In its recommendation, the Royal Commission identified nine institutions, which, at a minimum, should report. The National Office worked with those nine institutions to facilitate their annual progress reporting for 2018, and these reports are available on the Child Abuse Royal Commission Response website.
The Royal Commission also recommended that other major institutions or peak bodies that are involved in child‑related work should consider reporting annually. The National Office is assessing which other institutions and peak bodies are in scope for reporting in 2019, including:
- Religious institutions
- Out-of-home care providers
- Education providers
- Sporting organisations
- Arts and recreation organisations
The National Office will work with the other major institutions and peak bodies to facilitate public reporting for the next Annual Report in December 2019.