Role of Australian Government agencies
Since 2013, when the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission) started, the Australian Government has focused on protecting children from institutional sexual abuse and addressed issues for survivors and victims.
The Australian Government is determined to address the wrongs of the past and take meaningful action to ensure children are safe in all aspects of their life – physically, mentally and online.
All areas of the Australian Government are working together to:
- prevent child sexual abuse
- improve how institutions respond to child sexual abuse, and
- make sure that victims and survivors get justice, treatment and support.
For information on the Australian Government's progress in implementing the Royal Commission's recommendations please read our Annual Progress Reports.
Improving national leadership and coordination
On 15 December 2017, the Australian Government announced that a Child Abuse Royal Commission Implementation Taskforce (Taskforce) would be established in the Attorney-General's Department to carefully consider the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse's Final Report and coordinate and deliver the Australian Government Response.
The Taskforce is working closely with Australian Government agencies and states and territories to track the implementation of Royal Commission recommendations directed wholly or partially at the Australian Government. Other recommendations are being implemented by state and territory governments and non-government institutions.
National Office for Child Safety
As recommended by the Royal Commission, the Australian Government established the National Office for Child Safety on 1 July 2018. The National Office for Child Safety sits within the Attorney-General's Department.
For more information on initiatives overseen by the National Office for Child Safety, visit its website.
Establishing child safe organisations and frameworks
National Principles for Child Safe Organisations
In February 2019, the former Prime Minister and state and territory First Ministers endorsed the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (National Principles). The National Principles are 10 high-level principles that put into practice the Royal Commission's recommended Child Safe Standards. The National Principles help organisations in all sectors across Australia create cultures and practices that support child safety and wellbeing.
The National Office for Child Safety is leading work to coordinate implementation of the National Principles across Australia, including working with state and territory governments who are responsible for implementation within their jurisdiction.
For more information, including resources to help organisations implement the National Principles, visit the National Office for Child Safety's website.
Commonwealth Child Safe Framework
The Commonwealth Child Safe Framework is the Australian Government's child safety policy. It sets minimum standards for creating and embedding child safe cultures and practice in Australian Government agencies. The Commonwealth Child Safe Framework also encourages Australian Government agencies to include child safety requirements in the services and activities they fund.
For more information visit the Defence Youth Safety Framework website.
National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse
The Australian Government has developed and released the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse 2021-2030 (National Strategy), as recommended by the Royal Commission. The National Strategy is the first of its kind in Australia, and will establish a coordinated, nationally consistent approach to preventing and better responding to sexual abuse in all settings, including in institutions, in families and online. The National Strategy is a 10 year whole-of-nation framework, and will partially or fully implement approximately 100 other Royal Commission recommendations.
The National Strategy will initially be driven by two 4-year (2021-2024) action plans. The First National Action Plan includes measures that the Australian, state and territory governments will deliver together. The First Commonwealth Action Plan includes measures that the Australian Government will largely deliver on its own.
For more information visit the National Office for Child Safety's website.
National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children
In 2021, the Australian Government launched Safe and Supported: the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021-2031 (National Framework), as recommended by the Royal Commission. The National Framework was developed by Australian, state and territory governments in partnership with SNAICC – National Voice for our Children and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Group. The shared goal of the National Framework is to make significant and sustained progress in reducing the rate of child abuse and neglect and its intergenerational impacts.
The National Framework aligns closely with the National Strategy and will have two 5-year action plans that will describe actions and outcomes needed to achieve sustained progress in reducing child abuse and neglect. For the first time, the National Framework will be delivered through Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plans alongside General Action Plans.
For further information, visit the Department of Social Services’ website.
Defence Youth Safety Reform
The Department of Defence's (Defence) vision is for its engagement with youth to be conducted in an environment that ensures their health, protection and wellbeing and in a manner that delivers a positive experience.
The Defence Youth Safety Framework was developed in 2015 and ensures a high standard of youth safety across Defence. The Defence Youth Safety Framework encompasses policy, training, governance and assurance elements. It applies to all personnel in Defence namely the Navy, Army, Air Force and the Australian Public Service.
Defence has embedded a Defence Youth Protection Management System within its existing work health and safety enterprise structures, policies and processes. The Defence Youth Protection Management System encompasses matters which are designed to ensure the protection of youth from child abuse and that youth protection accountabilities are effectively understood and managed within Defence.
For more information visit the Defence Youth Safety Framework website.
Sport Integrity Australia
Sport Integrity Australia protects the integrity of Australian sport and the health and welfare of those who participate in sport.
Sport Integrity Australia offers sporting organisations, and other stakeholders, a single nationally coordinated body to address all sport integrity issues. The agency works in partnership to protect against the:
- use of prohibited substances and methods in their sport
- abuse of children and other people in a sporting environment
- manipulation of sporting competitions
- failure to protect members of sporting organisations and other people in a sporting environment from bullying, intimidation, discrimination or harassment.
Sport Integrity Australia commenced operations on 1 July 2020. The agency combined the Australian Government's sports integrity workforce: the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, the National Integrity Sports Unit and the national integrity programs of Sport Australia into one entity.
Sport Integrity Australia is strongly committed to Australian sport environments that are safe, supportive and friendly for children.
For more information on current frameworks, policies and resources aimed at supporting children's safety visit Sport Integrity Australia's website.
Ensuring online safety and security for children
Office of the eSafety Commissioner
In 2015, the Australian Government implemented measures to create a safer online environment for Australian children.
The Office of the eSafety Commissioner (eSafety Office) was established to help protect people from cyberbullying harm and take a national leadership role in online safety. The eSafety Office works with children, parents, teachers, schools and universities, as well as with government and non-government organisations to deliver national online safety education.
For more information on online safety, and to access online safety resources visit the Office of the eSafety Commissioner website.
Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation
The Australian Government established the Australian Federal Police Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) in 2018. The ACCCE beings together capabilities from across the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, to drive a collaborative national response to counter the exploitation of children in Australia. In driving a national response, the ACCCE focuses on countering online child sexual exploitation, including organised child exploitation networks operating in the online environment. Recognising the global and borderless nature of online child exploitation, the ACCCE is founded on a principle of partnership. In partnership, the ACCCE works to free children from exploitation through its four pillars: Prepare, Prevent, Protect and Pursue.
For more information visit the ACCCE's website.
Providing support for victims and survivors
National Redress Scheme
The Australian Government established the National Redress Scheme in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission. It started on 1 July 2018 and will run for 10 years.
The National Redress Scheme recognises that many children were sexually abused in Australian institutions. It seeks to hold those institutions to account and to help people who have experienced abuse access redress.
For more information visit the National Redress Scheme website.
National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse
The former Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, delivered the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (the National Apology) on 22 October 2018. The National Apology was offered to all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse in institutions, their families, supporters and all those affected by abuse. It aimed to raise awareness in the community of the lifelong impacts of child sexual abuse and the need to help and protect children across all sectors, both government and non-government.
One year later, on 22 October 2019, the former Prime Minister delivered the first anniversary speech for the National Apology in the House of Representatives.
On 22 October 2020, the former Prime Minister delivered the second anniversary speech in the House of Representatives.
On 21 October 2021, the former Prime Minister delivered the third anniversary speech in the House of Representatives.
On 27 October 2022, the Prime Minister the Hon Anthony Albanese MP delivered the fourth anniversary speech in the House of Representatives.
More information can be found on the National Apology page.
Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions' website for victims and witnesses
In February 2019, the Attorney‑General launched the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions' new website for victims and witnesses of crime. The website includes information, guidance and support to help victims of crime, witnesses, carers and support people understand the prosecution process.