COAG takes action to increase the safety of children in organisations

by Brad Poynting

February 20

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Sector.

As The Sector this morning reported,  the Australian Human Rights Commission, have welcomed the announcement by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) , endorsing the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. These Principles provide a baseline for organisations that work with children to implement child-safe and child-friendly practices to instil a child-safe culture.

 

The 10 National Principles are an evolution of the Child Safe Standards which were recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which tabled its Final Report in December 2017. The National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell led the development of the National Principles at the request of the Australian Government. That National Principles take a child rights approach to protecting children from institutional abuse and neglect through creating child safe environments.

 

In November 2018, Poynting Consulting & Advisory released a piece encouraging organisations to prepare for the implementation of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. This article provides an overview of the National Principles, information for organisations and parents, and guidance on where to access more information.

 

To coincide with COAG’s endorsement of the National Principles, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has released tools and resources to support organisations. The tools and resources can be accessed on AHRC’s new website http://childsafe.humanrights.gov.au

 

The resources available include:

 

  • A self-assessment tool for organisations

 

  • A child safety and wellbeing policy template

 

  • An example code of conduct

 

  • A charter of commitment to children and young people template

 

  • An online safety checklist

 

  • A guide for parents and carers.

 

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” – Megan Mitchell, National Children’s Commissioner

 

Now that COAG has endorsed the National Principles and provided the tools and resources for organisations to embed a child-safe culture there is no excuse for a lack of action by organisations that exist for the benefit and enjoyment of children and young people.

 

Parents and caregivers should expect that organisations are implementing the National Principles, are involving children in making decisions which affect them, and are upholding the rights of children and young people.

 

Adopting the National Principles will not be an easy task for organisations. The National Principles require a change in organisational culture. To succeed in this endeavour, organisations will require courage, effort and effective leadership. COAG has taken a commendable step toward increasing the safety of children and young people in organisations and institutions, but it is the responsibility of those organisations and institutions to accept this challenge. When that happens it will transform this announcement in to the marker of a historical day for the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in Australia.

 

Further information about supporting organisations to navigate the change management process in relation to the National Principles can be found here.

 

Brad Poynting is Principal at Poynting Consulting & Advisory (PCA), a consultancy that works with businesses to ensure children within their service are kept safe. He has worked toward and advocated for the best interests of children for over 10 years, beginning his focus on protecting children from harm when he joined the Queensland Department of Communities as a front-line child protection worker, before transitioning to the early education sector to work at the nexus of early education and child protection.

 

Brad’s focus in the ECEC sector has been to increase awareness of the prevention of institutional child abuse and neglect, commonly called ‘child safeguarding’ in addition to preventing child abuse and neglect in the community. For more information, visit the PCA website.

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