Forum on Child Safe Organisations and cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people
A forum attended by Indigenous leaders in the fields of health, mental health, and child and family support was held in Canberra on 29 January 2018, co-chaired by Richard Weston, CEO of the Healing Foundation and the National Children’s Commissioner. The Hon Ken Wyatt, MP, Minister for Indigenous Health opened the forum.
A paper on cultural safety presented to the Forum will be uploaded to the website project page shortly. Key themes emerging from the forum included:
defining cultural safety – here the SNAICC definition of cultural safety was discussed: ‘within the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out of home care, cultural safety encompasses the child being provided with a safe, nurturing and positive environment where they are comfortable with being themselves, expressing their culture…..their spiritual and belief system, and they are supported by the carer and family’;
cultural safety as integral to organisational safety, not an add on, including discussion of how a lack of cultural safety contributes to child abuse and the business case for investing in prevention;
the link between cultural safety and human rights, including self-determination; and the gap between these rights and actual practice;
the link between culture and wellbeing with Aboriginality being a strength;
the lack of referencing to cultural safety and Aboriginal concerns and priorities in the draft National Principles including the need to more clearly prioritise cultural safety and to place Aboriginal children within the context of their families and communities.
Child Safe Organisations Advisory Group Meetings
Meetings of the Implementation Advisory Group and Consumer Advocacy Advisory Groups are scheduled for early March to be held in Canberra and Melbourne respectively. Agenda items include an update on the work occurring through the Taskforce established by the Prime Minister to consider and co-ordinate actions on the recommendations of the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse. Advisory groups will consider revisions to the draft National Principles following feedback from both sector and consumer advocacy group consultations, the cultural safety forum and consultations with children and young people.
At the meeting Advisory Group members will comment on some of the draft tools and resources under development. In particular:
a simple, organisational self-assessment tool that aims to be an organisation’s first step in their child safety and wellbeing journey, helping them to identify priority areas for improvement; and
A checklist for parents and carers that aims to give them an introduction into child-safety, language and confidence to ask questions and encouragement to keep informed, involved and speaking with their children about safety.
A number of other tools and resources are in train. To find out more or if you are interested in assisting to pilot and refine tools and resources, please contact the project team: firstname.lastname@example.org
COAG meeting 9 February 2018
The Council of Australian Governments met on 9 February 2018. At the meeting, the Prime Minister and First Ministers welcomed the progress on the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, agreed the importance of creating organisations where children are safe from abuse and neglect, and acknowledged the work underway to establish a national redress scheme. First ministers committed to responding to the recommendations of the Royal Commission’s final report in June 2018.
Senate committee inquiry into the adequacy of existing cyberbullying laws
On 9 February 2018, the National Children’s Commissioner appeared before the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee hearing to discuss the adequacy of existing cyberbullying laws. Commenting on the issue of cyberbullying from a child rights perspective, the National Children’s Commissioner opposed the introduction of new offences to capture cyberbullying. The key to addressing cyberbullying is not through the creation of additional criminal offences or the criminalisation of children, but through increased public education.
The development of principles, or standards in policy and practice and the implementation of resources for the CSO project, to deliver across Australia, covers the full range of organisations where children go, such as schools, youth groups, sports clubs and churches. These standards include specific references to the obligations of organisations to combat bullying and to deliver safe physical and online environments. It is envisaged that the National Principles and related resource material would be endorsed by COAG. COAG released a Communique on 9 February welcoming the progress on the development of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations and the establishment of a working group to consider existing and potential initiatives to help combat bullying and cyberbullying. Read more here: https://www.coag.gov.au/meeting-outcomes/coag-meeting-communiqu%C3%A9-9-february-2018\
The National Children’s Commissioner is a member of the National Online Safety Working Group, chaired by the e-Safety Commissioner. As part of its suite of tools and resources, the AHRC Child Safe Organisations team is developing an e-safety checklist for organisations and is collaborating with the Office of the e-Safety Commissioner around other e-safety resources.
Chapter 4 reports on Children’s safety and wellbeing and discusses what we know about child harm in Australia, and about ways of keeping children safe from harm, with a particular focus on children and young people in organisational settings. The report:
highlights some data on child harm, noting trends and gaps in available information;
describes some recent inquiries relevant to children’s safety, including the Royal Commission;
discusses recent research on child safety in organisational settings, including children’s views of safety; and
outlines the current work developing national principles for child safe organisations.
Chapter 3 of the report deals with young parents and their children. It is the summation of the National Children’s Commissioner’s eight month investigation of the experiences and needs of young Australian parents and how to improve outcomes for young parents and their children. The report makes 16 recommendations. The Commissioner’s editorial can be found here: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/stories/young-parents-need-our-support-not-judgement