NSW passes new laws impacting ECEC, designed to tighten child protection

NSW passes new laws impacting ECEC, designed to tighten child protection

by Freya Lucas

November 11, 2021

The New South Wales Government passed new laws through parliament yesterday, designed to offer greater consistency in how organisations protect children.

 

Under the new laws the Office of the Children’s Guardian (OCG) will have additional powers to monitor and investigate how organisations, including early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, implement the Child Safe Standards to support the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

 

Certain other child-related organisations, including in the Education, Health and Youth Justice sectors, must implement the Child Safe Standards, along with local councils, religious organisations providing services to children, and sport and recreation organisations providing services to children. 

 

The law change has arisen from a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and builds on legislative changes in 2019 which gave the Children’s Guardian greater authority and oversight. 

 

10 Child Safe Standards

 

NSW Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Alister Henskens said the Children’s Guardian Amendment (Child Safe Scheme) Bill 2021 means that the 10 Child Safe Standards will create safer environments and organisations. 

The Child Safe Standards are:

  1. Child safety is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture 

  2. Children participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously 

  3. Families and communities are informed and involved 

  4. Equity is upheld and diverse needs are taken into account 

  5. People working with children are suitable and supported 

  6. Processes to respond to complaints of child abuse are child focused 

  7. Staff are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children safe through continual education and training 

  8. Physical and online environments minimise the opportunity for abuse to occur 

  9. Implementation of the Child Safe Standards is continuously reviewed and improved

  10. Policies and procedures document how the organisation is child safe.

“These changes are all about a consistent standard for how organisations protect children and the passing of this legislation is an important step forward in line with the recommendations of the Royal Commission,” Mr Henskens said. 

 

Children’s Guardian happy to support organisations

 

NSW Children’s Guardian Janet Schorer said the OCG will support organisations with the implementation of the Standards in ways that will be appropriate to their size, resources, and the nature of their involvement with children.

 

The OCG will focus on capacity building as a core element of implementing the Standards, she added, noting that taking such an approach reflects the importance of education in changing attitudes and cultures that may make children vulnerable to all forms of abuse, including sexual, physical, emotional, and ill-treatment and neglect.

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