National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

Standards to promote child safety and wellbeing across Australia.

What is a child safe organisation?

Child safe organisations create cultures, adopt strategies and take action to prevent harm to children. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission) Final Report emphasised that members of the public, children and young people, parents, carers, families and communities should feel confident that organisations working with children provide safe environments in which children’s rights, needs and interests are met. They recommended ten child safe standards be adopted to foster child safety and wellbeing across Australia.

Creating National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

The Royal Commission recommended that the Child Safe Standards should be adopted as part of a new National Statement of Principles for Child Safe Organisations (the National Principles). The development of ten National Principles was led by the National Children’s Commissioner and endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments in February 2019.

The National Principles give effect to the ten Child Safe Standards recommended by the Royal Commission, but go beyond child sexual abuse to include other forms of abuse or potential harm for children and young people. This reflects the understanding that the prevention of sexual abuse is best approached as part of broader efforts to prevent other forms of abuse and neglect. The Royal Commission recommended that the Child Safe Standards be mandatory for institutions that undertake child-related work.

The National Principles are underpinned by a child rights, strengths-based approach and are designed to allow for flexibility in implementation across all sectors engaging with children and young people, and in organisations of various sizes. They align with existing child safe approaches at the state and territory level.

What are the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations?

  1. Child safety and wellbeing is embedded in organisational leadership, governance and culture.
  2. Children and young people are informed about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously.
  3. Families and communities are informed and involved in promoting child safety and wellbeing.
  4. Equity is upheld and diverse needs respected in policy and practice.
  5. People working with children and young people are suitable and supported to reflect child safety and wellbeing values in practice.
  6. Processes to respond to complaints and concerns are child focused.
  7. Staff and volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills and awareness to keep children and young people safe through ongoing education and training.
  8. Physical and online environments promote safety and wellbeing while minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed.
  9. Implementation of the national child safe principles is regularly reviewed and improved.
  10. Policies and procedures document how the organisation is safe for children and young people.

complete guide for the National Principles includes:

  • the intent and key elements of the principles
  • key action areas, showing where organisations should take action to create a culture of child safety
  • indicators that the principle is upheld, providing practical examples of signs that the principle is effectively in place 
  • references to examples of relevant Articles of the Conventions on the Rights of the Child.

Watch this short Child Safe Organisations – National Principle Video for an overview of the National Principles by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Implementation and oversight

The Department of Communities is working with other government agencies, the community services sector, peak bodies and other jurisdictions to drive the implementation of the National Principles through existing regulatory mechanisms and funding agreements. 

The Department of the Premier and Cabinet is leading the policy work to develop an independent oversight system, which includes the monitoring and enforcement of the National Principles.

Child Safe Organisations in WA

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The Commissioner for Children and Young People (the Commissioner) is responsible for providing ongoing capacity building for organisations to create child safety and supporting government agencies to implement the National Principle for Child Safe Organisations in Western Australia.

The Commissioner’s Child Safe Organisations WA program helps leaders, staff and volunteers within organisations to place the safety of children and young people at the forefront of their activities. It also encourages parents and carers to seek information and ask questions about the child safe strategies used in places their children are attending.

Tools and resources

The Commissioner has developed a range of resources to support organisations to develop child safe strategies, along with information for parents, carers and families (including a checklist of what should be expected of a child safe organisation). The resources, updated in 2019 to reflect and align with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, include:

  • National Principles for Child Safe Organisations WA: Guidelines
  • National Principles for Child Safe Organisations WA : Self-assessment and review tool
  • National Principles for Child Safe Organisations WA Information for parents, carers and family members
  • Checklist for parents
  • Checklist for staff and volunteers
  • Tips for children and young people on how to make a complaint
  • Speak up and make a complaint

Further information about the Commissioners work in making organisations safe in Western Australia can be found on the Commissioner for Children and Young People website.

The National Office for Child Safety

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The National Office for Child Safety (National Office) was established a part of the Australia Governments response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission).

The National Office leads the coordination and implementation of national priorities recommended by the Royal Commission including the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, Commonwealth Child Safe Framework and the National Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse.

While all governments are responsible for implementing the National Principles in their respective jurisdictions the National Office works with all state and territory governments and the non-government sectors to promote and support the implementation of the National Principles and a nationally consistent approach to child safe organisations.

Tools and resources

The National Office has worked with several organisations to coordinate the development of resources to support implementation of the National Principles. This includes a range user friendly information and practical tools developed by the Office of the National Children’s Commissioner for organisations, children and parents and carers to understand the National Principles and support implementation. These can be accessed on the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Child Safe Organisation website and include:

  • Introductory Self-Assessment Tool for Organisations
  • Guide for Parents and Carers
  • Example Code of Conduct
  • Charter of Commitment
  • Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy template
  • Checklist for Online Safety 
  • 11 free professionals online learning modules on the National Principles. 

Visit the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website for further information about the National Office including key activities.

Working with Children Checks

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A Working with Children Check is a compulsory screening strategy in Western Australia.

What is a Working with Children Check?

A Working with Children Check (WWC Check) aims to protect children by:

  • deterring people from applying to work with children where they have a relevant charge or conviction on their criminal record that indicates they may harm a child
  • detecting new charges and convictions of those people who hold a current Working With Children Card and preventing them from continuing to engage in child-related work where their criminal record and behaviour indicates they may harm a child
  • protecting children by creating awareness that child safety is a whole of community responsibility.

Who needs a check?

A WWC Check is required by a person if they engage in certain paid or unpaid work with children, described as ‘child-related work’ under the Working with Children (Criminal Record Checking) Act 2004 (Working With Children Act).

All employers, volunteer organisations and education providers who engage employees, volunteers or students to undertake child-related work, have responsibilities and obligations under the Working With Children Act.

If you are an employee, volunteer or student and you engage in or are about to start child-related work you must apply for a WWC Check. 

How do I apply?

After obtaining an Application for a WWC Check form from an authorised Australia Post outlet you should complete your personal information. Your employer, volunteer organisation or education provider must also complete and sign parts of your application form.

Further information

More information and useful fact sheets are available for applicants, employers and organisations and parent and carers can be found on the Working with Children Checks website.

Page reviewed 29 June 2021