Ombudsman’s report on Puffing Billy highlights vital role for Child Safe Standards in preventing child sexual abuse

Tuesday 26 June 2018 – for immediate release

The Victorian Ombudsman’s investigation of a child sex offender's involvement with Puffing Billy has highlighted the vital role of the state’s mandatory Child Safe Standards in preventing child sexual abuse.

Organisations started having to comply with the standards from 1 January 2016. The Commission for Children and Young People has had powers to oversee and enforce compliance with those standards since 1 January 2017.

‘This investigation exposes still further evidence of organisations failing to make children and their safety a priority, with devastating impact. It adds to the evidence already highlighted through the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and Victoria’s own Betrayal of Trust report, and reinforces the vital need for Victoria’s new mandatory Child Safe Standards and Reportable Conduct Scheme,’ said Commissioner for Children and Young People, Liana Buchanan, in a statement today.

‘The Ombudsman’s report has clearly recognised the value of the Child Safe Standards in its recommendations, and I welcome the thorough scrutiny and call to action that the report provides. All organisations that work with children should have worked hard to meet the legislated Child Safe Standards and prevent child abuse, and that work must continue.

‘The Commission will continue to raise awareness of the Child Safe Standards and the Reportable Conduct Scheme, and to administer these schemes to make sure organisations comply with them and do better to keep children safe than has occurred in the past,’ Buchanan said.

The Royal Commission recognised Child Safe Standards as a key response to its findings of widespread sexual abuse. It is undeniable that organisations’ failure to act in the past has allowed child abuse to continue in too many cases. Victoria's mandatory Child Safe Standards require organisations to put in place the policies, practices and culture to protect and nurture children so that the terrible abuse we have seen is brought to an end.

Victoria is the only jurisdiction in Australia that already has Child Safe Standards and reportable conduct schemes similar to those recommended by the Royal Commission.

Further information on the Child Safe Standards and the reportable conduct scheme is available here.

Media contact: Darren Lewin-Hill 0437 046 360