How Child Safe is your organisation?

Last month, Emma from the BNG team attended the Mackillop Family Services conference, Child Safe Organisations: Prevention and Practice Beyond the Royal Commission, which was held in Melbourne.

It was a great opportunity to hear about the current developments in legislation and policy in light of the Royal Commission findings and recommendations, some of which are already in the process of being implemented.

Among the various discussions that came out of the conference, there were some key points relating to organisational practices that were raised. Many of these were centered around a child-rights approach to child safety, including:

  • The need to listen to children, and believe them, rather than dismissing them by saying ‘he/she always makes things up’ or ‘there’s no way that staff member would have done that’
  • Looking at organisations through the eyes of children. How do they perceive the structures in place that facilitate and support them to come forward and disclose abuse? Do they feel safe and comfortable to do so, and are there child-friendly mechanisms which support this?
  • Putting the best interests of children first, as well as taking into consideration their views and opinions
  • The importance of positive organisational cultures – cultures that promote a learning organisation and prioritise and promote child safety

It is essential that organisations strive toward best practice with the attitude of understanding why they are doing things, not only what they are doing. Making systems and processes child safe should not be seen as a burden, but as something that will improve services and outcomes as well as protect children from harm.

How can you ensure that children experience organisations as being child safe

From the recommendations of the Royal Commission, we have a better idea of where we need to be, but how do we get there? Many of these recommendations might seem difficult to aim for because they are not concrete, measurable outcomes, such as ‘culture change’.

Becoming a best practice child safe organisation is a long-term strategy, and will not happen overnight or by accident. Some suggestions for where to begin are:

  • Make child safety a standing item in board meetings, with child safety reported on and presented to the board on a quarterly basis
  • Boards and senior leadership should send out internal communications to staff and stakeholders clarifying their stance on child safety, and stating their renewed commitment as a result of the Royal Commission—including how these commitments will be demonstrated
  • Ensure the following are in place, are communicated, and are regularly reviewed and updated
    • Child Safe policy
    • An updated Code of Conduct with a child safe focus
    • Strategies to promote participation and empowerment of children, including tailored organisational documents that they have access to and can understand
    • Clear reporting procedures that comply with any relevant mandatory reporting requirements

SPP updates in child safety

We recently added into SPP the revised WA child protection standards, the Better Care, Better Services Standards, which came into effect from 1 January 2018.

These standards reflect many of the child rights-based principles outlined above, such as asking children about their safety needs and being responsive to their needs.

To align our assessments in SPP with these updated principles for child safety, we also amended and added questions in some of our child protection-related assessments. For more details on these changes and how they may affect your organisation, see the March Alert in the Reading Room.

If you found this post useful, look out for next week’s post, which will outline the developments towards a set of National Child Safe Standards.
The team at BNG is committed to supporting organisations strive for best practice and keeping you up-to-date with developments in the area of child protection. If you have a request or an idea for a resource that would benefit you and other organisations, please email us

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SPP has been a great resource for understanding and mapping Standards, preparing for Audits and also sourcing resources for policy development. I would recommend it to other organisations to complement their quality and compliance work. Information can be easily shared, and evidence gathered to support all work done.
Community mental health service provider, Victoria
I like the speed and ease of SPP, I love how it maps multiple standards. It’s so convenient, I couldn’t imagine the nightmare to do the work manually. The templates are great for gap analysis. SPP resource templates are great for implementing new policies in the office and for what we do day to day.
Large provider of settlement services to immigrants, New South Wales
I have found the SPP system amazing. It provides a structured way to work through the standards and then provide a succinct report on the evidence being provided for a surveyor to view how we meet the standard. I used this in our recent accreditation survey, the auditor was very impressed, AND we are now accredited for ISO 9001. Thanks again. A great system.
Provider of diverse range of health programs, Queensland
We really like SPP. We use the resources in the Reading Room and couldn't have passed our accreditation with flying colours without SPP.
Advocacy, support and education provider, Australian Capital Territory
Everything is going well with SPP. It’s helped us through three lots of accreditation over the past nine months plus some internal auditing, so I’m very glad to have had it to assist us through the processes.
Large regional multi-service provider, Victoria