Working With Children – Victorian Legislation
Friday, 17th October 2003 at 1:10 pm
The Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls is said to be driving the push for new legislation addressing protection issues relating to ‘working with children’, and a draft is expected to be available for public consultation by the end of the year.
NSW and Queensland have already enacted protective legislation.
The Victorian Attorney General made a pledge to act on the legislation back in August 2002.
A spokesperson for the Minister says the issue of child protection is complex and while some organisation believe the legislation isn’t being developed quickly enough a lot of work needs to be done and the Government is determined to get it right.
The draft legislation is expected to be available for extensive community consultation later this year and would probably not reach Parliament until the Autumn Session in 2004.
The minister’s office says one of the big questions is cost and who would be financially responsible for a system that imposed a mandatory police check on adults working with children. Currently that cost is $24 per check.
The spokesperson says the initiative to enact special ‘working with children’ legislation came from within the Attorney-General’s office and it is a particular interest of the Premier, Steve Bracks.
Many Victorian organisations already operate under a policy of voluntary police checks for their employees and volunteers who are working with children based on a new initiative to prevent child abuse within community organisations across Australia.
The initiative developed by the Australian Council for Children & Youth Organisations, assists NFP’s to implement effective child protection standards.
An independent evaluation report prepared by Victoria University found that participating organisations ‘improved their policies, processes and practices’ through a combination of training, networking and external review.
The Council, a Not for Profit organisation, has worked closely with more than 20 Victorian community organisations since 2002 to develop the accreditation model.
Support and guidance has also been provided by Victoria Police, the Children’s Court and the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.
The Council’s CEO, Anton Hermann, says his organisation has been part of the consultation process with the Victorian Government regarding the draft legislation.
Hermann says if it has to take this amount of time to get a good outcome then it is worth waiting for.
In the meantime he says any organisation providing services to kids should build their service on a foundation stone of:
– Suitability checks;
– A Child Protection Policy; and
– External audit for accountability and transparency.
He says the Council’s accreditation initiative creates a practical pathway for this to occur.
The next step in the Council’s plan is to recruit an additional 100 Victorian organisations to take part in the project over the next 12 months.
He says Victoria Police have found that more than 20 per cent of child sex offenders obtain access to their victims through community organisations and this is a positive initiative to prevent harm before it occurs.
Major funding providers for the project are the Federal Government, BHP Billiton Community Trust, The Pratt Foundation, the R.E. Ross Trust and the Jack & Robert Smorgon Families Foundation.
For more information about the ACCYO initiative check out the website at www.accyo.org.au