Child Safety Statement

Child Safety Statement 2023

Commonwealth Child Safe Framework

October 2023

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts (the department) is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children by creating and maintaining practices that are safe for children. The department is working to promote a culture where children who have contact with, or are affected by, the work of the department, are safe, protected and respected. This includes the implementation of the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework (the Framework) and publication of an annual child safety statement.

Our interaction with children

The department has undertaken an assessment of child-related activities and associated risks for 2023 in accordance with Requirement 1 of the Framework, which specifies that Commonwealth entities must undertake annual risk assessments of their activities in relation to children.

The department's operations involve children in limited settings with varying degrees of interaction:

  • The administration of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island (through the Indian Ocean Territories Administration), including the provision of health, education, administration and court services. This includes roles such as nurses and education assistants, who have direct contact with children, in some cases without a guardian present. Education services are delivered in partnership with the Western Australian Government.
  • Exhibition attendants for the Tai Jin House museum in the Christmas Island National Park, whose roles include contact with child patrons of the museum.
  • Community engagement programs across Australia for the Women in Aviation initiative, including in environments such as schools and public events.
  • a Child Safety Officer and support team, responsible for the oversight of child safety issues, who may occasionally come into contact with children via a public feedback and complaints portal.

To mitigate risks posed to children in these areas, the department has reviewed our policies and procedures, implemented the National Office of Child Safety's Commonwealth Child Safe Framework training, and has a comprehensive Child Safety Policy with clear responsibilities, processes and expectations for staff. Each area has longstanding practices in place to mitigate risks to child safety, including screening of staff.

The 2023 assessment also examined all financial agreements with external parties for the provision of services to children, or who otherwise come into contact with children or their data, including:

  • Child protection, family and community services, ambulance and airline services to Norfolk Island.
  • Arts training and education programs for children.
  • Children's road safety programs.

The terms of each agreement include child safety provisions to appropriately manage the risks posed to children who interact with these external organisations. The department has specific grant and procurement guidance to ensure agreements meet the standards set by the Framework.

Risk rating and compliance with the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework

The department has undertaken a significant body of work this year to mitigate risks around child safety and ensure it is compliant with all four requirements of the Framework.

In line with Recommendation 2 of the Framework, the department provides a system of training and compliance commensurate with its activities and risk profile. This includes:

  • Implementing the training package developed by the National Office of Child Safety to ensure all staff have access to training in their obligations under the Framework.
  • Individual compliance processes for areas which include child-related work, with all staff in these roles subject to ongoing screening.
  • Undertaking an annual stocktake of child-related positions and third-party agreements to provide further assurance of ongoing compliance.

In addition to the above, the department has also undertaken work to implement the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations and comply with Requirement 3, including:

  • Appointment of an SES Child Safety Officer to drive a positive safety culture and oversee child safety processes and complaints management.
  • Launching a comprehensive Child Safety Policy detailing responsibilities, processes, performance and development requirements, legislation and behaviours, including clear information for staff and families on how the department ensures child safety while promoting equity and diversity.
  • Review and update of other departmental policies and processes to reflect the Framework and new Child Safety Policy.
  • Development of a child-friendly, anonymous complaints and feedback process, ensuring a child-centered approach to managing complaints and concerns.
  • Collated child-friendly materials informing children of their rights, how to speak up and how to get help, available on the department's website and distributed to child-related work areas.

Publication of this Statement by 31 October 2023, with the inclusion of our assessment results, meets the department's obligations under Requirement 4.

Based on the findings of the assessment and the department's mitigation strategies, the overarching risk rating for 2023 is found to be low.

Child safety initiatives and measures

The department recognises that continuous improvement is essential to maintaining a child safe environment and ensure compliance with the Framework. In line with this, the department is now focused on:

  • Implementation of supplementary, tailored child safety training.
  • Updates to recruitment systems to more effectively support existing screening and monitoring processes.

These measures will further support the department in progressing a positive child safe culture and high child safety standards, enhancing our compliance with the framework.

Further information

For more information, including how you can report child safety concerns for this department, please visit our Child Safety Resources page.