The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released a consultation paper on out-of-home care today.
Royal Commission Chief Executive Officer Philip Reed said the Commission’s terms of reference direct it to examine how to better prevent, report and respond to child sexual abuse in institutional contexts.
“We decided to examine out-of-home care because it was apparent from our private sessions, public hearings and research work that children in out-of-home care are at a heightened risk of sexual abuse,” Mr Reed said.
“To date we have held over 4,700 private sessions, in which out-of-home care was the largest category of institutions identified, constituting over 40 per cent of all reports of child sexual abuse,” he said.
“We have heard numerous accounts of the significant sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children that occurred in these institutions and its detrimental impact on many people’s lives.”
Mr Reed said the Commission had heard concerns that the current out-of-home care system did not adequately protect children from sexual abuse, or consistently respond as well as it should when abuse occurs.
“We are concerned that inconsistencies between the states’ and territories’ systems may mean that children receive differing levels of protection, care and support depending on their circumstances and geographical location,” Mr Reed said.
“We are also concerned that sexual abuse in out-of-home care is under-reported, as most children do not disclose abuse at the time it occurs.”
The consultation paper seeks views on the adequacy of screening checks and assessment of carers. It asks for feedback on how to improve information sharing, prevention, and support services.
Read the consultation paper.
All interested parties are encouraged to make written submissions responding to the paper. Written submissions should be made by Monday, 11 April 2016 and can be submitted in the following ways:
- electronically to OOHC [at] childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au
- Write an online submission
- by mail, addressed to GPO Box 5283, Sydney, NSW, 2001.
Submissions can be anonymous.
Feedback on the issues outlined in the consultation paper will help inform recommendations the Royal Commission may make in order to better protect children in out-of-home care from child sexual abuse.