September 5, 2021

Every Child Needs a Fair Go: What does National Child Protection Week mean for organisations?

This ‘Every Child Needs a Fair Go: What does National Child Protection Week mean for organisations?’ blog article was written by Jessica Carter, Senior Safeguarding Consultant at the Australian Childhood Foundation. National Child Protection Week runs from September 5th – 11th, 2021. 

 

“Every child, in every community, needs a fair go.”

This is the theme for this year’s National Child Protection Week, and it highlights the importance of ensuring that we treat all of Australia’s children fairly. Part of that is making sure that every family and community has what children and young people need to thrive and be healthy.

Sometimes when we talk about community, we forget that organisations play a significant role in creating the communities we live in. Whether it’s a sports club, the local Council, a school or something else, most organisations will inevitably have some involvement with the broader community and that includes children and young people.

There are lots of ways to ensure that children and young people feel included and are given a fair go as valued members of our society, which National Child Protection Week reminds us to do. One of the most fundamental starting points is to ensure that every single child feels safe.

Keeping our children and young people safe is the responsibility of the whole community, and that includes organisations. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, completed in 2017, found that organisations don’t always uphold this essential responsibility. The Royal Commission brought evidence from 7,981 survivors of child sexual abuse and found more than 4,000 different institutions reported as places where abuse took place[1].

Nearly five years later, many organisations and governments across Australia have responded to these terrible findings by exploring ways that we can create safer communities for children and young people by upholding organisational cultures that foster child safety and wellbeing – this is called a safeguarding approach, and it aims to create spaces where abuse is prevented and, if it does occur, is taken seriously and responded to appropriately.

The National Principles for Child Safe Organisations are at the heart of this[2]. These principles set out a nationally consistent approach to creating organisational cultures and practices that keep all children and young people safe. Across the country, different state and territory governments have adopted versions of these standards, some of which – such as the Victoria Child Safe Standards – are upheld in legislation.

The National Principles are an evidence-based framework that all organisations can and should follow to ensure that every child, in every community, gets a fair go, starting with the essential human right of feeling safe and heard. This also means recognising that some children and young people are particularly vulnerable, and organisations must embed a culture of inclusion and equity to respect all children regardless of their abilities, sex, gender, or social, economic or cultural background.

Held every year starting on the first Sunday of September, National Child Protection Week is a reminder for all of us that keeping children and young people safe and making sure they feel included is of utmost importance. But building safer, fairer communities is an ongoing practice, all of the time, that we must constantly strive for.

If you are an organisation that wants to learn how you keep children and young people safe, including embedding the National Principles and a safeguarding culture, the Australian Childhood Foundation’s Safeguarding Children Services can support you.

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[1] https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/

[2] https://childsafe.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-02/National_Principles_for_Child_Safe_Organisations2019.pdf