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Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse highlight the Need to Train the Whole Organisation to Keep Children Safe

From experience owning and operating an award-winning childcare centre, Right Approach owner Suzanne Arnold contends that ongoing education and training were the key to keeping children safe. The whole organisation needs ongoing education and training that includes workshop attendance, being part of a community of practice, supervised peer discussions, team training days and regularly reading publications.

Ms Arnold’s experience is consistent with the Royal Commission’s recommendations and the NEW National Principles for Child Safe Organisations suggesting that board members, managers, staff, volunteers, families and the community must be equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe.

Every stakeholder needs to be able to identify indicators of child harm, particularly child sexual abuse, and respond effectively to children and young people and their families. They need to be able to respond in appropriate ways to people with a disability and children and young people with culturally diverse backgrounds who show signs that they are experiencing harm inside or outside the organisation.

The NEW Criminal Legislation Amendment (Child Sexual Abuse) Bill 2018 requires all adults in NSW to recognise and report information to police if they know, believe or reasonably ought to know that a child (under 18 years) has been abused. Failing to report information to police without a reasonable excuse is an offence punishable by up to two years imprisonment. If a worker is not adequately training, there is a risk they will not recognise or respond to child sexual abuse appropriately.

Suzanne Arnold’s insights reinforce the importance of education across the whole organisation. First, in relation to recognising child harm, second on reporting child harm, and thirdly on preventing child harm through building a child safe culture. Right Approach’s program Creating Child Safe Organisations is essential learning for leaders, supervisors and managers.