THE VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO “BETRAYAL OF TRUST”: CHILD SAFE STANDARDS AND CAPACITY BUILDING
There would not be a community sporting club in Australia which did not support the provision of a child safe environment for all members. In April 2012 the Victorian Government initiated a landmark inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other non- government organizations. The final report of the inquiry, entitled Betrayal of Trust, made 15 recommendations to the Victorian Government. After careful consideration, the government formally responded to Betrayal of Trust, supporting in principle, all recommendations.
Consultation is currently taking place on the introduction of child safe standards in community sporting clubs. Child safe standards aim to drive cultural change and focus on risk awareness and risk management in organizations working with children. They would focus on education rather than “tick the box” compliance. It is not simply about having relevant policies and procedures in place, but ensuring policies are translated into practice on the ground.
The inquiry identified that there was an over-reliance on Working with Children Checks (WWC) as a preventative tool. There are inconsistencies in the child safe standards that apply to different sectors funded and regulated by government. There is fragmentation, gaps and inconsistencies in policies and practices to prevent abuse both within and across different sectors. More support will be needed to assist organizations to implement child safe policies if they are introduced in community sporting clubs.
The inquiry recommended that the Victorian Government consider the potential for extending minimum child standards beyond the education and community services sectors to other organizations and sectors that have direct contact with children, including community sport.
POTENTIAL VICTORIAN CHILD SAFE STANDARDS
The clubs policies and procedures for creating and maintaining a child safe environment should incorporate each of the following elements of a child safe organization:
- A child safe policy or statement of commitment to child safety
- A code of conduct that establishes clear expectations for appropriate behaviour
- Human resources practices that reduce the risk of harm to children by new and existing personnel, including through recruitment and selection (including undertaking WWC checks), training and support supervision and performance management
- Processes for responding to and reporting suspected harm to children
- A risk management approach (where organizations actively identify risks of harm to children on an ongoing basis and implement strategies to reduce those risks)
- Mechanisms to promote the participation and empowerment of children
- Strategies to embed an organizational culture of child safety
- Strategies to promote the cultural safety of Aboriginal children and young people
- Strategies to promote the cultural safety of children and young people from culturally and linguistically diverse and refugee backgrounds.