Announced in 2012, the five-year royal commission received 41,770 calls, 25,774 letters, conducted 57 public hearings and 8,013 private sessions, and made 2,559 referrals to authorities – highlighting the prevalence of child sexual abuse, both historical and recent, in Australian institutions.
In particular, recommendation six is an excellent start, with the commission urging the Australian Government to establish a mechanism to oversee the development and implementation of a national strategy to prevent child sexual abuse.
The report also recommended the Australian Government and state and territory governments should prioritise improvements for children with disability, children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Importantly, the Royal Commission also discussed the need for all institutions engaged in child-related work, including detention institutions and those involving detention and detention-like practices, to implement the Child Safe Standards recommended by the commission, including that child safety is embedded in institutional leadership, governance and culture.
Save the Children Australia Child Protection Advocate Karen Flanagan AM, who provided evidence to the commission, welcomed the commission’s recommendations released today and urged the government to take timely steps to implement these important measures.
“All children deserve the right to a safe and happy childhood. Sexual violence against children is devastating, and its impact can last a lifetime,”
Ms Flanagan said.
“A just response is critical for those who have suffered at the hands of abusers, as is effective implementation of these recommendations, ensuring real changes to institutional cultures and structures to keep children safe.”
Principles for protecting children are internationally enshrined in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of a Child, and domestically guided by State and Territory legislation and the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children (2009- 2020). However, as shown through this inquiry, more must be done to end sexual violence against children.
“It is vital that organisations work in collaboration with community members, other child protection organisations and government to pool expertise and safeguard children effectively, ensuring the sins of the past are never repeated,”
Ms Flanagan said.
Call Jess Brennan on 0421 334 918 for interviews.