3 tiers of government meet to discuss national information sharing scheme
Federal, state and territory governments have met to discuss a national information sharing scheme to better combat child sexual abuse.
The one-off National Ministerial Forum on Child Safety reaffirmed commitment to nationally consistent child safety reforms in response to the shocking allegations brought to light in August by Operation Tenterfield.
The Australian Federal Police investigation led to a former childcare worker being charged with 1,623 child abuse offences against 91 children. The alleged offences took place in New South Wales, Queensland and overseas.
Following the revelations, the NSW Premier Chris Minns, NSW Minister for Families and Communities Kate Washington and the Queensland Government called for a meeting to discuss ways to strengthen national information sharing arrangements, and to deliver better outcomes for children and young people.
The National Ministerial Forum on Child Safety was hosted by the Commonwealth Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus.
At the Forum, NSW led discussions seeking jurisdictions’ agreement to improve information sharing across agencies and jurisdictions, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Minister Washington highlighted the need to work towards national reform and consistency to improve child safety across Australia.
The NSW proposals were unanimously supported by all jurisdictions at the Forum.
Jurisdictions reaffirmed commitment to a suite of child safety reforms, emphasising the need to ensure national consistency to protect Australia’s children. This included:
- Prioritising working with children check harmonisation, ensuring this work complements broader worker screening reforms
- Adoption and alignment of reportable conduct schemes
- Renewed commitment to embedding the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations in legislation, as NSW has done with amendments to the Children’s Guardian Act 2019
- Raising awareness and understanding of child safety issues
- Possible legislative and administrative arrangements for an information sharing scheme as recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Ministerial Forum provided an opportunity to prioritise and shape future policy discussions. This includes commitment to aligning existing reforms to ensure national consistency, and tasking officials to consider additional reforms.
NSW Minister for Families and Communities, Kate Washington said: “The NSW Government welcomes the agreement by all ministers to strengthen information sharing across agencies and jurisdictions, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
“Whilst NSW has some of the strongest laws in Australia to prevent child abuse in organisations, there’s still some confusion and complexities when it comes to sharing information across borders.
“Working together with the Commonwealth, States and Territories, we want to ensure that any loopholes that could be exploited by perpetrators of child abuse are closed for good.”
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