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Progress to better protect children from institutional child sexual abuse

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The State Government will today table the first annual report for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, detailing significant steps that have been taken to better protect children.

This whole-of-government report, which is the first of five, demonstrates the work happening across agencies to make institutions safer for children.

Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said the government was already taking action to strengthen protections for children and young people and better support victims and survivors.

“The extent of child sexual abuse uncovered by the Royal Commission is deeply disturbing – nothing can excuse the horrific sexual abuse that children experienced in institutions that were meant to protect them,” said Minister Sanderson.

“It has now been six months since we released our initial response to the Royal Commission and the State Government has made significant progress in this time.

“The State Government is taking strong action to recognise and support people who experienced abuse in the past and to better protect children in the future.

“However, it is important that we don’t look at this Royal Commission in isolation.

“We must take a one-system approach to reform, which will bring together previous royal commissions and inquiries into a holistic, evidence-based future strategy.

“This future reform strategy will use a public health approach that spans from prevention to intervention, which is widely recognised as best practice and was recommended by the Royal Commission.”

Key activities highlighted in the first annual report include:

  • Delivering a formal apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse
  • Formalising South Australia’s participation in the National Redress Scheme
  • Removing time limits to seek compensation for people who have experienced child abuse
  • Establishing SAPOL’s Public Protection Branch to manage high-risk offenders and respond to the needs of victims
  • Creating the new role of Aboriginal Commissioner for Children and Young People
  • Bringing new child safety laws into effect to support the voice of the child and improve experiences in out-of-home care
  • Implementing mandatory reporting requirements for ministers of religion who receive information through a confession.

Minister Sanderson said child safety was a shared responsibility, which was reflected in the whole-of-government approach.

“The State Government is taking steps to make sure the serious failures of the past are not repeated, so that our children and young people can grow up safe, happy and healthy,” said Minister Sanderson.

“Government, non-government, religious and community institutions must keep making changes to become child-safe by improving their culture, structure and governance.

“The State Government will continue to work with our counterparts in other states and territories, as well as federally to ensure we have a consistent, national approach that ensures children and young people are better protected.”

For more about the recommendations and the government’s response see www.childprotection.sa.gov.au/royal-commission