Empowerment and participation make children safer from abuse: new guide for organisations launched today

Wednesday 3 March 2021 – for immediate release

A new guide will help organisations implement key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The royal commission found that abuse was less likely to happen in organisations where children and young people participate in decisions that affect them and where they feel confident they will be listened to. To address this, the royal commission recommended changes to the law requiring organisations to implement Child Safe Standards, including strategies to promote the participation of children and young people.

Empowerment and participation: A guide for organisations working with children and young people shows organisations ways to empower children and young people and foster their participation as an important measure to prevent abuse, as well as responding to it effectively when it does occur.

The new guide launched today was produced by Victoria’s Commission for Children and Young People, the New South Wales Office of the Children’s Guardian, and the Australian Centre for Child Protection at the University of South Australia.

‘We have heard from many organisations that they need guidance to do this effectively. Empowering children and young people in organisations is critical. If children do not feel like they can speak up, that their concerns will be heard, believed and acted on, the broader policies and systems we have in place to keep them safe will have little effect,’ said Victoria’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Liana Buchanan, today.

‘The Child Safe Standards work together to support the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. Empowering children to participate more fully provides important protections against harm or abuse,’ said Janet Schorer, NSW Children’s Guardian.

‘Children and young people tell us that they want to inform the ways that adults and organisations keep them safe and respond when they are harmed,’ Associate Professor Tim Moore, Deputy Director from the Australian Centre for Child Protection, said today.

‘Giving children and young people opportunities to work in partnership with adults to identify issues, inform responses and learn what to do if they are unsafe is invaluable – it builds their skills, their confidence and their trust in adults, organisations and their communities.

‘When done well, children feel empowered and adults and organisations benefit from children’s unique perspectives,’ he said.

The guide provides strategies organisations can use to build a culture of empowerment and participation for children, recognising the context in which they operate, and the needs of the diversity of children they work with.

Successfully implemented, the strategies can address factors recognised by the royal commission as undermining children’s disclosure of safety concerns and actual abuse.

The launch of the guide comes as the award of Australian of the Year to advocate Grace Tame throws a spotlight on the need to ensure survivors are not silenced and are able to speak out about their abuse to heal trauma, bring justice, and prevent future abuse.

‘This guide will give organisations the help they need to create empowerment in young lives,’ NSW Children’s Guardian Janet Schorer said.

‘We hope organisations will come to see that they are not only legally obliged to act, but that the guide offers them many practical opportunities for achievable and effective action to empower, include, and protect children,’ Commissioner Buchanan concluded.

The guide is available for download now, and media comment is available.

Media contact for Victoria’s Commissioner for Children and Young People

Darren Lewin-Hill
0437 046 360
Senior Communications and Media Adviser
Commission for Children and Young People

Media contact for the NSW Children’s Guardian

Bruce Williams
0413 452 498
Senior Media and Communications Officer
Office of the Children’s Guardian

Media contact for Associate Professor Tim Moore

Associate Professor Tim Moore
0466 416 148
Deputy Director
Australian Centre for Child Protection