The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission (Royal Commission) was established in response to allegations of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts that had been emerging in Australia for many years.
The Royal Commission’s Final Report1 made 409 recommendations, with 310 applicable to the Western Australian State Government.
The recommendations of the Royal Commission emphasised that organisations working with children must be able to provide safe environments where the rights, needs and interests of children are met. The Royal Commission recommended a range of mechanisms
to support child safe organisations, including 10 Child Safe Standards (rec 6.5), which organisations the standards should apply to (rec 6.9) and the role of an independent oversight body to monitor and enforce the standards (rec 6.10 and 6.11) to
promote child safety across organisations and the role of child safety officers in local government (rec 6.12).
The Royal Commission also envisioned that the National Office for Child Safety (rec 6.16 and 6.17) would have a key role in collaborating with the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to support national consistency. It would do this by leading
capacity building, continuous improvement of child safe initiatives through resources development, best practice material and evaluation. They also expected the National Office for Child Safety to promote participation and empowerment of children
and young people.
The Royal Commission defined child safe organisations as those which create cultures, adopt strategies and take actions to prevent harm to children, including child sexual abuse. The Royal Commission proposed 10 Child Safe Standards be adopted to foster
child safety and wellbeing in organisations across Australia, as referenced above.
The Council of Australian Governments endorsed the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (National Principles) in February 2019. The National Principles (Appendix 1) incorporate the 10 Child Safe Standards recommended by the Royal Commission,
with a broader scope that goes beyond child sexual abuse to include all forms of abuse or potential harm to children.
In Western Australia, the Royal Commission recommendations related to the National Principles are being led by the Department of Communities and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet in partnership with key government agencies and the Commissioner
for Children and Young People (CCYP).
The Department of the Premier and Cabinet is leading the development of advice to the State Government on an independent oversight system, which will include the monitoring and enforcing of the National Principles for organisations engaged in child-related
work. The Royal Commission was of the view that all organisations should strive to be child safe but recommended that organisations providing the following services should be required to implement the National Principles:
The Department of Communities is leading the implementation of the National Principles through a range of administrative and legislative levers such as funding agreements and regulatory frameworks. They are also providing support to government and non-government
agencies to implement the National Principles in preparation for independent oversight.
Western Australia currently has a voluntary approach to the implementation of the National Principles focused on capacity building, led by CCYP, while options for legally requiring implementation are developed. CCYP has enabling legislation to raise awareness,
provide capacity building and consult with children. In 2019, CCYP revised their child safe resources to align with the National Principles.
The Royal Commission cited the fundamental role local governments play in assisting and resourcing communities across Australia, particularly in regional and remote areas where access to resources and services is often more limited than for their urban
The Royal Commission highlighted the important roles local governments play in communities that impact on the safety of children including:
Through this consultation process the State Government has two key aims:
As part of the response to this consultation process it would be useful for local governments to consider how to engage their local communities in relation to this issue. This active engagement can ensure that the community’s expectations and the
local government’s outcomes and investment in child safety are well understood.
Local governments undertaking the required periodical review of their Integrated Planning and Reporting, may choose to include discussions on child safety as part of the engagement with the local community.
Recommendation 6.12 of the Royal Commission recommended that, with support from governments at the national, state and territory levels, local governments should designate child safety officer positions from existing staff profiles to carry out the following
Child safety officers are intended to promote child safety within the organisation and support smaller community-based organisations providing services to children to create child safe environments. The role would be expected to support local staff and
volunteers to build existing capacity around child safety within their organisations by providing information and assistance.
The Royal Commission’s view was that a child safety officer proximate to services and local industries would be especially important in regional and remote areas, given these communities are known to routinely miss out on resources and access to
services that are available in urban centres. In regional and remote communities, child safety officers could be a conduit for information.
The Royal Commission’s view was that child safety officers should work closely with the independent state oversight body responsible for monitoring and enforcing the National Principles, as they would be well placed to support smaller organisations
to understand how they can be child safe.
The intent of the Royal Commission is for local governments to identify where they already have existing staff who could fulfil a role of promoting child safety within the organisation and supporting smaller local organisations to develop capacity in
this area. Local governments could create new positions to facilitate implementation of this role where desired and resourcing allows. Volume 63 and Volume 144 of the Royal Commission’s Final Report provide this recommendation in detail.
Acknowledging the existing investment local governments make to promoting community safety, including child safety, the Royal Commission stated that local governments do not need to provide additional financial investment into implementing a child safety
officer role and suggest that existing community safety positions within local governments could be expanded to align existing responsibility to strengthen child safety.
The following portfolios may have existing roles that could be considered for alignment with child safety responsibilities and it is recognised that significant work is already occurring in these areas within some local governments to promote child safety,
as recommended by the Royal Commission:
It is also recognised that not all local governments have existing community safety positions or have limited capacity to expand the functions of these roles to include child safety. In fulfilling the functions of the child safety officer role, it is
recognised that local government staff will need access to appropriate training. Where local governments have limited resources to create child safety officer positions the Royal Commission suggested that state and territory governments may be able
to provide assistance.
The four key functions of child safety officers, recommended by the Royal Commission, are outlined below with suggestions as to how each function may look in practice. It is noted that some of these examples may represent work already occurring in many
Developing child safe messages in local government venues, grounds and facilities promotes the knowledge and understanding of child safety by community members. Public messaging promotes the rights of children to feel safe as well as increasing the understanding
of child safety by staff, volunteers and community members and acting as a deterrent for those who may intend to cause harm to children.
To implement this function would include:
Institutions in local communities such as sole traders (i.e. music teachers, tennis coaches), private and community organisations (i.e. arts, cultural, community, sport and recreation groups, clubs and associations) may require assistance to access online
child safe resources.
Child safety officers are expected to provide general advice around promoting child safety and the implementation of the National Principles within organisations. For some local governments this may include hosting workshops/seminars with external providers.
It is expected that child safety officers would be supported by relevant agencies, such as CCYP, the National of Office of Child Safety, or in the case of child protection concerns, the Western Australia Police Force or Department of Communities in meeting
While it is not the intention of the Royal Commission for local government child safety officers to be a direct point of contact for community members or staff seeking advice on child protection matters, it would be important for anyone in this role to
have appropriate knowledge and understanding of child abuse and neglect, as well as local child safeguarding procedures, in order to provide appropriate information, guidance and signposting. It is important for the local government to consider what
support mechanisms are in place, to ensure the wellbeing of child safety officers when dealing with these matters and what specific areas of training would be required to build upon existing skills and knowledge of staff.
Communities within local government areas differ based on social demographics. The needs of supporting children from diverse backgrounds will differ based on the local population.
Information relating to implementation of the recommendation for local government child safety officers in each state/territory is outlined below. The National Office for Child Safety intends to work with the Australian Local Government Association to
develop a plan for implementation at a national level.
Accepted in principle. Volume 6 of the Final Report identifies that a rural city council in Victoria has appointed two child safety officers to help prevent and respond to concerns of abuse.
With the Victorian Government’s support, Vicsport provides a ‘helpdesk’, which delivers assistance and advice to state sporting associations, regional sport assemblies, regional academies of sport, clubs and associations
to assist them with cultural change, policy development, change management and communications to meet obligations in Victoria’s Child Safe Standards.
The Department of Communities and the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries developed a proposed consultation process, which was shared, discussed and endorsed with the Local Government Professionals of Western Australia’s
(LG Pro) Community Development Network on 1 October 2020. The paper was also shared with the leadership group of the Western Australian Local Government Association’s (WALGA) Local Government Community Safety Network for comment and feedback.
December 2020 to April 2021
This discussion paper was developed by the Department of Communities and the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, in consultation with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, CCYP and WALGA. It will be distributed to individual
local governments through WALGA and LG Pro by Wednesday, 2 December 2020, with feedback required from individual local governments and peak bodies by close of business on Friday, 2 April 2021.
The State Government will facilitate presentations for local governments on the discussion paper via webinar on Monday, 14 December 2020 and Thursday, 4 February 2021. The webinars will be presented by the Department of Communities and the Department
of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries with support from WALGA and LG Pro. To register your interest please email email@example.com prior to
This consultation process aligns with the consultation on the design of the independent oversight system, which includes the monitoring and enforcing of the National Principles. Between November 2020 and February 2021, feedback is being sought from organisations
likely to be impacted by the independent oversight and broader community stakeholders on particular elements of the system and how they will work. The local government sector is encouraged to provide feedback through the dedicated consultation webpage.
It is recommended that local government officers seek a position in relation to both consultation issues, child safety officers and the independent oversight system, from their respective councils during the consultation period to inform the organisation’s
feedback. Each local government should then respond individually to the consultation questions with specific feedback relevant to their geographical context.
April to June 2021
The consultation findings from this discussion paper will inform a draft report by Friday, 7 May 2021. The draft report will outline the State Government’s proposed implementation of recommendation 6.12 and provide guidance as to how local governments
can implement the role of child safety officers, including what support will be needed.
The draft report will be shared with WALGA, LG Pro, the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and CCYP for comments and feedback before being made publicly available and distributed to the local government sector as a final report by Friday, 4 June 2021.
Responses to consultation questions are due to the Department of Communities by Close of Business on Friday, 2 April 2021. Responses can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact any of the State Government representatives below to discuss queries relating to this paper or the consultation process.
Amanda FurnellManager Royal Commission Implementation TeamStrategy and PartnershipsDepartment of CommunitiesEmail email@example.com
Ben ArmstrongActing Director Strategic Coordination and DeliveryDepartment of Local Government, Sport and Cultural IndustriesTelephone 61 8 9492 9622Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Gordon MacMileActing Executive Director Local GovernmentDepartment of Local Government, Sport and Cultural IndustriesTelephone 61 8 9492 9752Mobile 0418 968 952Email email@example.com
Further detail about the National Principles and resources relating to their implementation in organisations can be found on the websites listed below.
The Commissioner for Children and Young People Western Australia’s website has a range of resources related to implementation of the National
Principles, as well as links to provide information, resources and practical examples on each of the 10 National Principles.
The National Office for Child Safety provides further resources to help organisations, children and young people, parents and
carers learn about the National Principles and how they should be used.
A Working with Children Check is a compulsory screening strategy in Western Australia and one strategy to keep children safe. The website includes
a range of resources including creating a child safe organisation through recruitment and staff management.
The Australian Human Rights Commission was engaged by the Australian Government Department of Social Services to lead consultations and development of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. The goal is to build cultures in all organisational
settings to advance the safety and well being of children and young people.
A full description of the National Principles can be found at:National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (humanrights.gov.au)
Do not submit enquiries with this form.