We are pleased that in recent years, there has been an increasing community-wide awareness, discussion and accountability around issues related to child wellbeing and safety. Largely this has been driven by the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, released in December 2017. In response, the Australian Department of Social Services established the National Redress Scheme, and the Australian Human Rights Commission released National Principles for Child Safe Organisations in 2019. We welcomed these outcomes.
In response to the Principles, KU recognised that as community standards lift to meet our own long-term commitment, we must continue to raise the bar for ourselves and others. In that same year, KU launched our own Child Safe initiatives, including publishing the Child Safe in Practice resource, with the aim of ensuring our own policies, practices and processes are as contemporary and robust as possible.
In 2020, as COVID-19 restricted the volume of face-to-face work we could undertake in our service, we continued working ‘behind the scenes’. The year saw a comprehensive review of all KU policies and procedures through a Child Safe lens.
As we worked to empower children and educate our communities regarding child safety, KU’s dedicated Child Safe Project Team took a strengths-based approach. Leveraging the rich array of resources already available, they led a process of evolving KU’s language and mindset around the way we speak about children’s rights to children, parents and others. The shift from a Child Protection approach to a Child Wellbeing and Safety Approach informed a number of ‘social stories’resources produced in 2020 to support discussions around the rights of children, and encouraging children to find, and use, their voice.
Foundational work also began on the development of KU’s own Child Safe-specific Code of Conduct. This significant project will continue into 2021 and continue to improve and strengthen our work.