Data tabled in State Parliament today show that in 2017–18 the Reportable Conduct Scheme cast the widest net yet seen in Victoria to ensure that organisations report, investigate, and prevent a broad range of conduct harmful to children. The new Scheme has been in operation since July last year and is administered by the Commission for Children and Young People.
‘The experience of the last year shows the value of the Scheme. However, it also shows more work is needed by organisations to build their capacity to investigate and act on allegations of abuse,’ said Liana Buchanan, Principal Commissioner, today.
‘At this early stage, we are still seeing significant variability from organisations in the quality of investigations. Some organisations need to improve before the community can have confidence that all allegations of child abuse are receiving proper attention. There is also a continuing tendency to not interview children, even when they have important evidence to share, and to not give enough weight to their evidence relative to adults.
‘By identifying these themes in the data we gather through the Scheme, the Commission can use its oversight powers to work with organisations to strengthen their response to protect children,’ the Principal Commissioner said.
In 2017–18, organisations reported 851 notifications of alleged reportable conduct to the Commission, comprising more than 1300 allegations impacting 765 victims.
‘The data show the Scheme is working to ensure that harmful conduct towards children does not fly under the radar, reducing the risk that it is covered up or is not effectively responded to,’ the Principal Commissioner said.
The Scheme covers physical violence, sexual misconduct, behaviour that causes significant emotional or psychological harm, sexual offences and significant neglect. Organisations are required to refer potential criminal allegations to Victoria Police and the Commission works closely with police.
In 2017–18, 474 notifications (56 per cent) were referred to police. In the same period, 33 subjects of allegation were referred to the Working with Children Check Unit of the Department of Justice and Regulation following substantiation of notifications to the Commission.
Victoria is the only State or Territory to have legislated both a Reportable Conduct Scheme and Child Safe Standards, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Next week Principal Commissioner Buchanan will address a seminar on mandatory reporting conducted by the UK’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
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