National Children’s Commissioner welcomes COAG endorsement of National Principles
National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell has welcomed the recent announcement of the endorsement of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), saying she was proud of her role in having worked with the Australian Government to develop and promote the principles.
In November 2018, The Sector contributor, Brad Poynting wrote a primer of the principles, and associated requirements for early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, which can be reviewed here.
“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,” Commissioner Mitchell said.
The principles came into light following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which 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 they became aware of abuse.
The principles seek to ensure that this does not happen again, and aim to provide “a nationally consistent approach to creating organisational cultures that foster child safety and wellbeing across all sectors”.
Following a request from the Australian Government, Commissioner Mitchell 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.
These tools and resources currently 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.
A variety of e-learning tools are under development to support ECEC and other providers to gain a deeper understanding of the National Principles. These will be made available, free of charge on the childsafe human rights website later in 2019.
“We owe it to every single child 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,” Commissioner Mitchell said in closing.