The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found many organisations had failed to protect children and to respond appropriately when information about abuse was disclosed.
In response to findings and recommendations from the Royal Commission, the Australian Government commissioned the development of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. The National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell led the development of the National Principles, in consultation with relevant peak organisations, children and young people, and Commonwealth and state governments.
Reflecting the ten child safe standards recommended by the Royal Commission, the National Principles go beyond sexual abuse to include other forms of harm to children and young people.
The National Principles apply to government, non-government and commercial organisations, including early childhood services, schools, out-of-home care, sports clubs, churches, youth groups, health services and youth detention services.
The ten National Principles put the best interests of children and young people front and centre. They cover all aspects of what organisations need to do to keep young people safe—from the culture of the organisation and the role of families and communities, to the recruitment and ongoing training of staff and respecting equity and diversity.
Many organisations across the country already work hard to ensure children and young people are protected from harm. The National Principles are not intended to override existing measures, but create a national minimum benchmark.
How will they be implemented?
In February 2019, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) endorsed the National Principles.
Alongside the National Principles, the National Office for Child Safety (NOCS) was established in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as part of the Australian Government’s response to the Royal Commission. The NOCS will work with state and territory governments and organisations to lead the implementation of the National Principles.
In South Australia, the Department for Education will lead the implementation of the National Principles with state-specific resources and supporting tools to be developed. Organisations providing care to children and young people will need to continue to meet the Child safe Environments: Principles of Good Practice while the implementation of the National Principles is progressing.
How can an organisation adopt the National Principles?
Each National Principle is accompanied by key action areas and indicators that act as a guide for organisations to ensure they are implemented in practice.
The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has developed a range of tools and resources to assist in the implementation of the National Principles. An introductory video provides further explanation on the development and future implementation of the National Principles and a Learning Hub and Practical Tools provide organisations further guidance.
For children and young people
The National Principles are about putting children and young people at the centre of practice. The AHRC has developed resources for children and young people and a version of the National Principles in child-friendly language. It also covers information for parents and carers how to identify an organisation is child safe.