We must ensure children feel safe and respected wherever they are.
State and federal governments, organisations and the community must work together to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission’s report and ensure abuse of children is prevented, the Commissioner for Children and Young People Colin Pettit said today.
Mr Pettit said given the huge investment in the Royal Commission, their rigorous work and the bravery of thousands of men, women and children who gave evidence, it is absolutely vital there is strong, bipartisan commitment to making changes and ensuring children are safe and respected in all organisations.
“Many survivors told the Commission sexual abuse is a trauma they can never escape as it affects every aspect of their lives,” Mr Pettit said.
“This level of trauma has a huge impact on our society and, as the Royal Commission identified, child sexual abuse in institutions continues today – it must not be considered a problem of the past.
“The debate around redress schemes is important but we must not lose focus on protecting current and future generations of children. All institutions and governments must commit to working together to establish the best protective measures."
Mr Pettit highlighted that one of the vitally important areas identified by the Royal Commission was a clear and adequately resourced oversight system that can work with and monitor organisations to improve children’s safety.
Mr Pettit said his office’s Child Safe Organisations WA program has been operating for 18 months, encouraging organisations to take a comprehensive approach to the protection of children.
“This program stresses that all organisations, from the CEO and board members to staff and volunteers, must work to establish a culture of child safety that is reinforced through daily vigilance and best-practice processes.
“I also strongly support the Royal Commission’s recommendations concerning action on harmful sexual behaviours between children and young people, as well as the need for advocacy and support services for children that experience abuse, and their families.
“We must have strong and independent advocates available for all Western Australian children and young people and their families.
“I will be speaking to government about the best way to provide these advocacy services equitably across our large state.”
Mr Pettit thanked the Royal Commissioners and their staff for their tireless and important work, and acknowledged the vital evidence and insights of all the survivors, particularly the Western Australians, who contributed to this historic inquiry.
“I welcome this report and commend all who have told their story in the hope of creating a safer and stronger society for our children.”
“We must also remember, as noted by the Hon. Justice Peter McClellan AM, that the Royal Commission has been concerned with the sexual abuse of children within institutions only, and the number of children who are sexually abused in family or other circumstances far exceeds those who are abused in institutions.
“We cannot be complacent - we must work together to empower and protect children and young people from any type of harm.”
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