THE chair of the royal commission into child sexual abuse believes institutions should have to adopt a 10-point checklist of national standards to be classified as “child safe” – and monitored for compliance.
Justice Peter McClellan discussed implications of findings from the royal commission in a key note address to be given on Monday at the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies National Conference.
Justice McClellan said the commission had identified a preliminary list of 10 “elements” it considered “fundamental to a child-safe institution”.
The list included that children participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously; families and communities are informed and involved; staff are equipped to keep children safe through continual education and training; and physical and online environments minimise the opportunity for abuse to occur.
“Child safe standards should be nationally consistent and there should be some form of compliance mechanism,” Justice McClellan said.
“Compliance should be monitored and enforced.
“This [implementation] must involve consideration of the role of the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. The power of the institution must never again be allowed to silence a child or diminish the preparedness or capacity of adults to act to protect children.”
Justice McClellan said while primary responsibility for sexual abuse lay with the abuser and their institution, all of society held responsibility for the problems faced by the abused.
“Society’s values and mechanisms which were available to regulate and control aberrant behaviour failed,” he said.
“This is readily understood when you consider the number of institutions, both government and non-government, where inadequate supervision and management practices have been revealed and acknowledged by contemporary leaders of those institutions.”
He again called for a national redress scheme funded by institutions in which survivors were abused.