There will be greater oversight of organisations that work with children after NSW passed a law mandating key recommendations from the child abuse royal commission.
The Office of the Children’s Guardian has been granted new powers to implement the Child Safe Standards, which NSW Families, Communities and Disability Services Minister Alister Henskens said “provides a framework for organisations to create and maintain child-safe cultures, operations and environments”.
NSW Children’s Guardian Janet Schorer said her office would support organisations to implement the standards based on the size of their operations and how they involve children.
The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) said the new law, especially the ability to break settlements that aren’t considered just and reasonable, is “very welcome”
ALA spokesman Dr Andrew Morrison said it “will make a significant difference to the many survivors of abuse who were pressured into unfair compensation arrangements with churches and other institutions”.
Children can be vulnerable to sexual, physical and emotional abuse and the new law “reflects the importance of education in changing attitudes and cultures” within organisations where that abuse can take place, Ms Schorer said.
Government departments across education, early childhood, health and youth justice sectors will all have to implement the new standards, along with local councils, religious, sport and recreation organisations that interact with children.
The standards include embedding child safety in organisational leadership and culture, and children participating and being taken seriously in decision making that affects them along with families and communities.
Organisations will also have to ensure the people working for them are suitable and supported to work with children, and equipped with the skills and awareness to keep children safe.
There also needs to be child-focused processes in place to respond to child abuse complaints, and organisations will have to document their child-safe procedures and policies.