Child Safe Organisations: Prevention and Practice Beyond the Royal Commission
1 March 2018 at 7:55 am
It is critical that the lessons learned from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse do not fade with time, writes MacKillop Family Services ahead of the upcoming Child Safe Organisations conference.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse undertook the most extensive investigation of child sexual abuse in Australia’s history, and has been widely praised for the compassion with which it engaged survivors and the depth and breadth of its recommendations.
Now the inquiry is complete, it is critical that the lessons learned do not fade with time.
Whilst the commission made it clear that the prevention and identification of abuse is a collective responsibility, there is a particular onus on organisations that work with vulnerable children, young people and families to implement the recommendations of the royal commission.
In recognition of this important responsibility, MacKillop Family Services is hosting a national conference – Child Safe Organisations: Prevention and Practice Beyond the Royal Commission – on 21 March at the MCG in Melbourne.
Bringing together managers and practitioners in child and family welfare, educators, researchers and policy makers, the conference will provide an opportunity to reflect on the royal commission, explore evidence-based strategies to prevent child sexual abuse and investigate cutting edge approaches to child-safe practice.
MacKillop Family Services CEO Dr Robyn Miller believes the sector needs to share best-practice approaches to keeping children safe, discuss the impact of the royal commission and work collaboratively to implement the royal commission’s recommendations.
“The final report is particularly relevant to all agencies with children in their care and it has far reaching implications across multiple sectors in our society,” Dr Miller said.
“Creating a space where practitioners can share experience and knowledge on evidence-based practice is a crucial first response to the findings of the commission”.
Keynote speakers include Robert Fitzgerald AM, commissioner for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, who will speak to the key learnings from five years at the commission in his address: Important Messages for Child and Family Welfare and The Education Sectors.
Dr Miller will lead two expert panels. The first focuses on helping families recover from trauma: Lessons From Evidence-Based, Culturally Safe Practice. This panel will discuss the key elements that are critical to families recovering from trauma, including family violence and sexual abuse. The discussion will highlight the importance of family engagement at every point, that is culturally safe and informed by research-based evidence.
The second expert panel will focus on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention and Response. A panel of government and sector leaders, practitioners, researchers and advocates will examine the issue of child sexual abuse prevention and responses with a focus on how we ensure the sector can best deliver an effective and collaborative response. Panellists include Liana Buchanan, Victorian principal commissioner for children and young people, and Dr Gemma McKibbin, research fellow, University of Melbourne, who will share evidence-based safe practice strategies on respectful sexual relationships.
“We know that due to their trauma and abuse histories, children in out-of-home care are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and are more at risk of being targeted by perpetrators. The fact that a disproportionate 33 per cent of all child sexual abuse reports to statutory child protection relate to children and young people living in residential care, compels us to action to ensure we do everything we can to keep children safe,” Dr Miller said.
Focusing on safety and creating an understanding of how past adversity and trauma can continue to affect someone’s behaviour will be a key element of MacKillop’s Child Safe Organisations conference. Recognising that trauma has an impact not only on the people who have experienced it, but also on the staff who work with them and on organisations, Dr Sandra Bloom (US), M.D, co-creator of the Sanctuary Model and international expert on trauma, will address the conference via video link on Creating Sanctuary: Child Safe Organisational Cultures. The Sanctuary Model was developed by Dr Bloom and is based on her experiences working with people who have survived traumatic childhood experiences.
Keeping the voices of young people centre stage, a keynote address on How Children Process Loss and Grief… and How Adults Need to Respond, will be delivered by Professor Anne Graham, professor childhood studies, Southern Cross University and author of Seasons for Growth, an innovative grief and loss education program.
“Sharing knowledge and information on progressive approaches to child-safe practices is one of the first steps in the process of creating child and family-centred responses to the commission’s findings. It’s time for us all to work together in a proactive and purposeful way to create child safe organisations and protect children and young people,” adds Dr Miller.
Child Safe Organisations: Prevention And Practice Beyond The Royal Commission takes place on Wednesday 21 March 2018 at the Olympic Room, MCG, Melbourne.