New laws pass WA Parliament to prevent cover up of child abuse at organisation level
The Sector > Quality > Compliance > New laws pass WA Parliament to prevent cover up of child abuse at organisation level

New laws pass WA Parliament to prevent cover up of child abuse at organisation level

by Freya Lucas

August 25, 2022

Significant child safety laws preventing organisations from covering up child abuse have passed through WA Parliament, compelling organisations to report allegations of, and convictions for, child abuse. 


The Parliamentary Commissioner Amendment (Reportable Conduct) Bill 2021 delivers on the WA Government’s commitment to implement recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. As a result of the changes an independent watchdog will examine how organisations handle complaints of child abuse by their staff.


“For too long, perpetrators have been able to hide behind organisations who have either turned a blind eye to abuse or actively protected them,” WA Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk said. 


The Reportable Conduct Scheme will cover an estimated 4,000 government and non-government organisations where children are being cared for, or supervised by, someone other than their parent or guardian, including early childhood education and care (ECEC) services. 


The legislation compels heads of organisations to report allegations of child abuse by their employees, volunteers and contractors. Organisations covered by the scheme include schools, religious institutions, childcare centres, hospitals, disability services, detention centres and residential care facilities. 


The Ombudsman will take on the role of independent examiner, ensuring organisations investigate allegations properly, and if not satisfied, conduct an investigation themselves. If organisations do not do the right thing, penalties will apply. 


“Anyone who speaks up in good faith will be protected from liability for giving information and victimisation when they do. In essence, children will be heard, believed and supported. Reporters will be protected,” a spokesperson from the Government explained. 


The changes aim to foster cultural change in organisations to prevent child abuse, encourage and support people to speak up about concerning behaviours, and improve systems for dealing with complaints and reports of abuse.


The scheme will not replace an organisation’s existing complaints handling and disciplinary processes. Organisations will be able to build on their existing procedures and reporting requirements to integrate reportable conduct requirements. 


Further information about the Parliamentary Commissioner Amendment (Reportable Conduct) Bill 2021 can be viewed here

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