Child safeguarding

Every child has the right to feel safe when participating in arts, cultural, community, sporting and recreation activities.

All children are entitled to explore and enjoy life in a safe environment. Organisations that are involved in child-related work have a responsibility to keep children and young people safe from harm. Protecting children and young people from abuse, discrimination and harassment is a legal requirement and a moral obligation.

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) has established a dedicated Child Safeguarding Implementation Unit to lead child safeguarding work across DLGSC, and support and build capability in local government, arts, cultural, sport and recreation organisations to embed child safe practices.

The unit can provide assistance to sectors to better understand child safety risks and support them to create child safe environments by implementing child safe practices.

The unit’s work is driven by the recommendations and findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

You can contact DLGSC’s Child Safeguarding Implementation Unit at childsafeguarding@dlgsc.wa.gov.au. If you have immediate concerns about the safety of a child, contact WA Police on 000.

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission) was established in January 2013 to examine institutional responses to child abuse. In 2017, the Royal Commission made 409 recommendations aimed at preventing abuse from occurring and providing support for survivors of abuse.

Western Australian Government response

Of the 409 recommendations made by the Royal Commission, 310 are for the Western Australian Government to action. The findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission are extensive and require careful and thorough consideration.

Reform is a long-term commitment. The WA Government is currently four years into a 10-year implementation plan with almost half of the recommendations completed. WA’s progress on implementation of Royal Commission recommendations is outlined in annual Progress Reports, the 2021 Progress Report is now available.

National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

In 2019, the Council of Australian Governments endorsed the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations which build on the 10 Child Safe Standards proposed by the Royal Commission. The National Principles have a broader scope that goes beyond child sexual abuse to cover other forms of potential harm to children and young people. The National Principles outline strategies an organisation should adopt to create a child safe culture, implement policies and processes that promote child wellbeing and work in ways that encourage the participation of children, young people and the broader community. The National Principles are focused on preventing abuse as well as developing systems that improve the identification and reporting of abuse if it occurs.

Creating a safer WA for children and young people

Creating a safer WA for children and young people

Factsheet
Arts, cultural, sport, recreation and community organisations have an ethical and legal responsibility to protect children from harm.

Resources for child safe organisations

The Commissioner for Children and Young People WA has developed a range of resources for organisations, their leaders, staff and volunteers that reflect the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. Information also includes guidance for children and young people on how to make a complaint and how an organisation can create a child-friendly complaints system.

The Safer WA for Children and Young People website provides information and resources on WA’s planned and completed reforms and initiatives to implement the Royal Commission’s recommendations as well as advice for children, young people and the community to raise concerns and create safe environments.

Independent oversight system

The Royal Commission recommended that organisations engaged in child related work or activities implement the Child Safe Standards and for implementation and compliance to be monitored and enforced by an independent oversight body.

The Department of the Premier and Cabinet is leading the work to develop a system of independent oversight that improves child safety in organisations.

Self-assessment against the National Principles

Organisations that undertake child-related work or activities have a responsibility to create a safe environment for children and young people.

When an organisation provides a safe environment, children and young people usually have more fun, are more engaged and are more likely to continue participating in the future.

DLGSC has adapted the Australian Human Rights Commission’s self-assessment tool to:

  • assist arts, cultural, community, sport and recreation organisations to reflect on their current child safe practices against the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations
  • identify areas for improvement, to act and make positive changes.

The self-assessment tool is a resource that assists organisations to reflect upon and improve their child safe practices.

Child Safety in local government

The Royal Commission recommended (recommendation 6.12) that local governments should designate child safety officer positions from within existing staff profiles. The Department of Communities, in collaboration with DLGSC, is working with local governments and peak bodies to implement this recommendation in WA. This includes exploring ways to raise the awareness of child safety in the community by promoting child safe messages in local government venues.

Reportable conduct 

The Parliamentary Commissioner Amendment (Reportable Conduct) Bill 2021 was given Royal Assent on 19 August 2022. The Bill will establish a Reportable Conduct Scheme in Western Australia which will compel heads of organisation to notify allegations of, or convictions for, child abuse by their employees to the WA Ombudsman and then investigate these allegations. These investigations will be supervised and reviewed by the Ombudsman.  

A phased implementation of organisations and their reporting obligations will occur over two years and include local governments, religious institutions and camp operators. Ombudsman WA has developed an information sheet (PDF 145 KB) about the Reportable Conduct Scheme which outlines the phased approach and the responsibility of organisations within scope of the scheme.

National Redress Scheme

The National Redress Scheme was established in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The scheme provides survivors of institutional sexual abuse an alternative to civil litigation and offers 3 components of redress:

  • a monetary payment
  • access to counselling and psychological care
  • a direct personal response from the responsible institution.

DLGSC has an ongoing role in providing information and historical records to the scheme to facilitate the application process.

DLGSC and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet led an information and consultation process with the WA local government sector about the scheme. All 137 local governments resolved to join the National Redress Scheme in July 2020 as a participating institution within the State Government's amended declaration of participation.

Non-government institutions including arts, cultural, sporting, recreation and community organisations are required to join the scheme if they are named in a survivor’s application and notified by the scheme. The Commonwealth Government has implemented financial consequences for institutions who refuse to join the scheme which may include financial sanctions or removal of their charitable status.

Organisations that are part of a federated structure, such as affiliated state sporting associations, should discuss their willingness to join the scheme with their peak body.

More information about the scheme is available on the National Redress Scheme website.

Page reviewed 25 October 2022