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Tasmanian Commission of Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse - Implementation of Key Recommendations

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Tags: Commission of Inquiry, Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Childhood Sexual Abuse, Child Safety


Yesterday during the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government's Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings, counsel assisting, Maree Norton, said:

We will examine concerns regarding the Tasmanian Government's lack of response to key recommendations of the National Royal Commission, in particular, limited progress has been made on the introduction of a reportable conduct scheme, or the implementation of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, which were endorsed by COAG in 2019.

Why have these key recommendations not been acted upon? Can you tell the House when they will be? When will the House see, for example, legislation implementing as child safe organisation framework? Also, what is the time frame for full implementation of the royal commission's recommendations?



Ms ARCHER - Thank you, Mr Speaker and I thank the Leader of the Greens, Ms O'Connor, for her question.

As the Premier has rightly pointed out, of the 409 recommendations from the national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, 307 are relevant to Tasmania. The remainder are relevant only to other jurisdictions, the federal government or non-government religious institutions.

I am pleased to report that 198 recommendations have been substantially or fully implemented with the remaining matters continuing to be progressed. I want to explain this before I get to your child safe question.

Of these outstanding recommendations they are of a complex legal nature that involves substantial reforms to existing systems; for example, the need to appropriately balance the privacy of individuals with the information-sharing elements that underpin a significant proportion of these remaining recommendations, or they are multi-faceted recommendations that need to be considered in the Tasmanian context. However, the scoping and analysis work is underway to ensure these recommendations can be effectively implemented in Tasmania to achieve the intended outcomes, which is to protect the safety of Tasmania's children. This is complicated work and it is important that we do not rush it. We need to make sure that the changes are appropriate and that we get it right.

That brings me to your question about child safe organisations. We have already committed to introducing a legislative framework that ensures organisations providing services for children prevent and appropriately respond to child sexual abuse.

The draft child safe organisations bill 2020, which proposes to create a stand alone piece of legislation and establish the principles for the safety and wellbeing of children and child safe standards, was released for public consultation between 22 December last year and 19 February this year. The bill outlines the proposed approach to implementing key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse by establishing the principles for the safety and wellbeing of children and the child safe standards.

Ms O'Connor - Why is it taking so long?

Ms ARCHER - I am getting to that, Ms O'Connor.

The 22 submissions received are currently being reviewed by the Department of Justice with options continuing to be developed in order to be provided to government for consideration. Together with the Minister for Children and Youth, I recently met with the Victorian Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People and the Tasmanian Commissioner for Children and Young People. That meeting was at the request of our children's commissioner to learn more about the Victorian model and consider any further options that may be suitable for the Tasmanian context.

It is important that we take that Victorian model into consideration. It was as a direct result of our Commissioner for Children and Young People. The draft legislation that we currently have put out for public consultation might need to be amended to suit that better model. I have spoken to our commissioner and we would prefer to have a much better framework and legislation and ensure that we adequately consult on that with any further submissions that need to be made. We will get that work done as quickly as possible.

I intend to ensure that we have legislation before this House despite the work of the commission of inquiry. It may well be once there are recommendations coming out of the inquiry that further work may need to be done to that at a later stage, but we will not be delaying that. The only delay has been to ensure that we have a model that is best practice, best standard, across our nation. To that end I have been asked by our Commissioner for Children and Young People to look at the Victorian model and that is exactly what we are doing.