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How you will have YourSay:

The ACT Government’s response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission) puts community engagement at its centre. We are committed to developing change with those individuals and organisations who will be affected to ensure we get the best fit for the ACT.

This page is where we will ask for suggestions and feedback on the changes we can make to enhance a culture of child safety in the ACT.

We will be looking at:

The Royal Commission made 409 recommendations across four reports. The ACT Government has responded to each of the 307 recommendations relevant to us, and we will be implementing as many as we can, as soon as we can.

Engagements in the coming months and years will cover recommendations in each of the Royal Commission's reports:

  • Final Report
  • Working With Children Checks Report
  • Redress and Civil Litigation Report
  • Criminal Justice Report

Who can provide input:

The ACT Government will need to consult regularly with children and families, community organisations, expert stakeholders and industry bodies as we work to implement more of the Royal Commission’s recommendations over the coming months and years.

All engagements are open to the whole Canberra community yet they may be of particular interest to stakeholder groups working in legal, justice and social service areas.

We will use your views to:

The views you share will help us iron out details in legislation, regulation or other changes we've committed to making in response to the Royal Commission. You will help to ensure the reforms we implement are tailor-made to be effective in the ACT.

History

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission) was established in 2013, in response to allegations of sexual abuse of children in institutional contexts that had been emerging in Australia for many years.

The Royal Commission issued a total of four reports:

  • The Final Report on 15 December 2017, containing 189 recommendations. 105 of these are pertinent to state and territory governments.
  • The Working with Children Checks Report in August 2015, containing 36 recommendations, 35 of which are relevant to the ACT.
  • The Redress and Civil Litigation Report in September 2015, containing 99 recommendations, 84 of which are relevant to the ACT
  • The Criminal Justice Report in August 2017, containing 85 recommendations, 83 of which are relevant to the ACT.

The ACT Government has been implementing recommendations from Royal Commission since they began to be issued in 2015. Criminal justice reforms improving support to vulnerable witnesses, the establishment of a Reportable Conduct Scheme, removing limitation periods for civil litigation and joining the national Redress Scheme are just a few examples.

The ACT Government formally responded to the Royal Commission’s Final Report on 15 June 2018. Of the 307 recommendations relevant to the ACT Government, we accepted or accepted in principle 290 of these, and noted or took under further consideration the remaining 17.

The ACT Government’s response is available here: https://www.act.gov.au/childabuseroyalcommission/formalresponse

In December 2018, the ACT Government released its first annual Progress Report on responding to the recommendations of the Royal Commission, which is available here: https://www.act.gov.au/childabuseroyalcommission/documents

Next Steps

Over the coming year our areas of focus will include:

  • Requiring allegations of child sexual abuse or non-accidental physical abuse divulged during religious confession to be reported under the Reportable Conduct Scheme.
  • Creating a new offence of failing to report child sexual abuse to the police, which will apply to all adults in Canberra.
  • Designating ministers of religion as mandated reporters, who are required to report suspected cases of child abuse to government authorities.
  • Progressing work to determine the best approach for implementing Child Safe Standards in the ACT.
  • Amending legislation to enhance the operation and administration of the Working With Vulnerable People Scheme.
  • Collaborating with the Commonwealth and other State and Territory governments on recommendations agreed as national priorities, such as developing the National Framework on Child Safety and Child Safe Standards, information sharing, record keeping and data collection; and addressing the complex issue of children with harmful sexual behaviours.

Child Safe Standards

Supporting a child safe and child friendly Canberra

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended the introduction of minimum Child Safe Standards, and we are working toward understanding how to implement these Standards in the ACT.

The Royal Commission has recommended that the Child Safe Standards be compulsory for all organisations providing facilities or services to children, including those that are funded or regulated by government, and those that are not.

The Child Safe Standards aim to drive cultural change in organisations so that protecting children from abuse is embedded in the everyday thinking and practice of leaders, staff and volunteers.

In October 2018, the ACT Government partnered with the ACT Public Advocate and Children and Young People Commissioner to conduct stakeholder forums to understand current sector readiness to implement the Child Safe Standards.

These forums involved a range of organisations that provide service delivery to children and young people and informed the ACT Government about what supports organisations need to strengthen their approaches to protecting children and young people. The issues raised in these forums are informing ongoing work on the implementation of Child Safe Standards in the ACT.

Here is a report on What We Heard during the forums.