Australia: Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse – RMIA discusses child safety standards

Last Updated: 22 May 2018
Article by Rosan Santangelo

The Risk Management Institute of Australia (RMIA) and HBA Legal are uniting RMIA's diverse membership's wide range of skills and disciplines to explore needs of vulnerable people. RMIA will plan sessions on risk strategy and frameworks, in light of Royal Commission recommendations.

Organisations that work with children, particularly schools, are faced with changes in society and technology which demand they constantly evolve to meet new challenges. These include the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which are, in some respects, very practical and will hopefully lead to new environments which are open, friendly and safe.

The Royal Commission published its final report on 15 December 2017, setting out its findings and recommendations arising out of a five-year inquiry.

The comprehensive 17 volumes of findings are an impressive body of work and, while at first daunting to review, some common themes emerge, and interesting questions arise about risk management.

Volume 6, Making Institutions Child Safe, describes the need for a national child sexual abuse prevention strategy and proposes the implementation of Child Safe Standards, including how they should be implemented. It consists of 24 recommendations. Much like a traditional risk management analysis, the Royal Commission discussed the importance of corporate and organisational culture and core values which are recommended to be set out in a Code of Conduct. This would be specifically tailored to emphasise the importance of child safety and the responsibilities of an organisation at all levels – Board, management, staff and other stakeholders, such as family of children and vulnerable people.

Volume 6 also sets out risk management strategies focussed on preventing, identifying and mitigating risks. This touches on a number of areas including, by way of example, Standard 8 to:

  • ensure that the physical environment in which children are placed is safe, monitored and, if necessary, physically modified; and
  • there are recommendations that organisations be vigilant in ensuring that children are safe when engaging with online

Physical Environment

The Royal Commission found that the risk of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts can increase when an institution's physical environment allows perpetrators to isolate children or operate without scrutiny. Perpetrators can go to some lengths to create and or take advantage of such environments, for example, in boarding schools, sick bays or while traveling (ref page 202 of Volume 6).

The forum may wish to explore issues such as how our built environment influences safety. This idea has already been explored in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) theory which seeks to use knowledge and creativity to design those built environments in ways that lessen or prevent the incidence of crime. There are three main concepts behind the theory of CPTED, all of which are very relevant to the Royal Commission recommendations:

  • Crimes against people and property are less likely to occur if other people are around (direct presence);
  • It is important that people in adjoining buildings and spaces are able to see what is happening (indirect presence); and
  • It is important to give people safe choices about where to be and how to anticipate and respond

This is an interesting one for schools in particular which are already evolving from dark decompartmentalised places to open community spaces – light, smart, transparent. The objective is to eliminate places where one might feel scared, intimidated or harassed and to have plenty of CCTV to ensure security.

Online

The Independent Statutory Office of the eSafety Commissioner has been nominated to lead the work of supporting institutions to help prevent online child sexual abuse and respond effectively to incidents that occur. As schools and other organisations are forced to grapple with technological advancements in how their stakeholders communicate and socialise with each other, along with their own record keeping and communication with children and parents, this presents some risks and challenges. It will be interesting to see how those responsible for on-line communication and databases will meet the challenge of child protection in 2018.

The Royal Commission also made recommendations regarding:

  • Cultural sensitivity;
  • Recruitment;
  • Education;
  • Governance;
  • Records management; and
  • The handling of abuse

The Royal Commission has set out the following guidelines for Institutions when implementing the Child Safe Standards:

Standard 1:

Child safety is embedded in institutional leadership, governance and culture
  1. The institution publicly commits to child safety and leaders champion a child safe culture.
  2. Child safety is a shared responsibility at all levels of the institution.
  3. Risk management strategies focus on preventing, identifying and mitigating risks to children.
  4. Staff and volunteers comply with a code of conduct that sets clear behavioural standards towards children.
  5. Staff and volunteers understand their obligations on information sharing and recordkeeping.
Standard 2:

Children participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously
  1. Children are able to express their views and are provided opportunities to participate in decisions that affect their lives.
  2. The importance of friendships is recognised and support from peers is encouraged, helping children feel safe and be less isolated.
  3. Children can access sexual abuse prevention programs and information.
  4. Staff and volunteers are attuned to signs of harm and facilitate child-friendly ways for children to communicate and raise their concerns.
Standard 3:

Families and communities are informed and involved
  1. Families have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of their child and participate in decisions affecting their child.
  2. The institution engages in open, two-way communication with families and communities about its child safety approach and relevant information is accessible.
  3. Families and communities have a say in the institution's policies and practices.
  4. Families and communities are informed about the institution's operations and governance.
Standard 4:

Equity is upheld and diverse needs are taken into account
  1. The institution actively anticipates children's diverse circumstances and responds effectively to those with additional vulnerabilities.
  2. All children have access to information, support and complaints processes.
  3. The institution pays particular attention to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children with disability, and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Standard 5:

People working with children are suitable and supported
  1. Recruitment, including advertising and screening, emphasises child safety.
  2. Relevant staff and volunteers have Working With Children Checks.
  3. All staff and volunteers receive an appropriate induction and are aware of their child safety responsibilities, including reporting obligations. d. Supervision and people management have a child safety focus.
Standard 6:

Processes to respond to complaints of child sexual abuse are child focused
  1. The institution has a child-focused complaint- handling system that is understood by children, staff, volunteers and families.
  2. The institution has an effective complaint-handling policy and procedure which clearly outline roles and responsibilities, approaches to dealing with different types of complaints and obligations to act and report.
  3. Complaints are taken seriously, responded to promptly and thoroughly, and reporting, privacy and employment law obligations are met.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Rosan Santangelo
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions