Child safe organisation commitment
The Minister for Health and Ambulance Services and the Director-General, Queensland Health have co-signed a Queensland Health Child Safe Organisation Commitment (PDF 535 kB). This is a commitment to proactively and intentionally work to align Queensland Health services and operations with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations. Queensland Health has a zero tolerance for child abuse, neglect, and harm and all employees, volunteers, and service providers in the Queensland Health system have a responsibility to respect and promote the rights of children and young people.
What it means to be a child safe organisation
The Australian Human Rights Commission defines a child safe organisation as one that consciously and systematically:
- creates an environment where children and young people’s safety and wellbeing is at the centre of thought, values, and actions
- places emphasis on genuine engagement with and valuing of children and young people
- creates conditions that reduce the likelihood of harm to children and young people
- creates conditions that increase the likelihood of identifying and harm, and
- responds to any concerns, disclosures, allegations, or suspicions of harm.
Every member of an organisation has a role to play in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, and all Queensland Health agencies have an obligation to proactively create and maintain an organisational culture where the safety of children and young people is a priority. This includes agencies that primarily provide adult-focused services, recognising that incidental contact with children may occur (for example, where children visit adult patients).
Background for the Queensland Health Child Safe Organisation Commitment
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission) highlighted the devastating impacts of child sexual abuse and the significant role that organisational culture, leadership and governance plays in ensuring environments are safe for children. Findings from the Royal Commission included that many organisations have failed to keep children and young people in their care safe, with contributing factors including:
- poor practices
- inadequate governance structures
- failures to record or appropriately respond to complaints, and
- cultures of secrecy and prioritisation of organisational reputation above the safety and wellbeing of children.
In response to findings, the Royal Commission developed ten ‘child safe standards’ which aim to minimise opportunities for harm to children and promote protective factors within organisations, and recommended mandating compliance with the standards to promote child safe organisations.
In 2019, the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (the National Principles) were endorsed by the former Council of Australian Governments to provide a nationally consistent approach to creating organisational cultures that foster child safety and wellbeing. The National Principles reflect the ten child safe standards recommended by the Royal Commission with a broader scope that goes beyond child sexual abuse to cover other forms of harm to children and young people.
It is important to note that the National Principles are broader than clinical child protection services, and their implementation is about ensuring that organisations themselves are child safe environments with adequate policies and processes in place to protect children and young people from harm occurring within an organisation.