A child safety culture according to the National Child Safety Standards must be led and championed by the board and leadership of any organisation. National Child Safety Standard 1 states: ‘Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture.’
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse spanned 2012 to 2017 and comprised 42,041 calls, 25,964 emails and letters, 8,013 face-to-face private sessions and 2,575 referrals to authorities including police. These numbers and abuse stories are incredibly high but we can multiply them by four, as these are only the cases of abuse in organisations that were recorded. Many people, such as myself, didn’t come forward about their abuse.
This hard reality highlights the need for change and it must come from the top. When we asked former royal commissioner, Robert Fitzgerald OAM, if any organisation is safe or exempt from abuse happening, his response was, ‘No, if the organisation cares for children then there is a possibility that abuse could occur. The only way an organisation can say it will be less likely to happen here is if they choose to make sure that the child safety standards are in place and that they are lived out’.