Child safety comes first in national office

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has pledged to deliver a national apology to institutional child sexual abuse survivors and has committed the Federal Government to a national child safety office as part of its formal response to the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Royal Commission.

“Children’s safety should always be put first,” Mr Turnbull said, “and we know from the Royal Commission’s work that in far, far too many cases, it wasn’t.”

“Don’t turn a blind eye,” Mr Turnbull warned, “the responsibility belongs to all of us.”

The formal apology will be delivered on 22 October 2018. The new National Office for Child Safety will start work on July 1, and will form part of the Department of Social Services. It will develop a national framework, will report to Parliament and will implement “policies and strategies” rather than handle individual cases, which will be left to the states and territories.

The Royal Commission delivered a total of 409 recommendations. The government has so far accepted 104 of the 122 recommendations directed wholly or partly at the Commonwealth. 

The National Redress Scheme will start from July 1, with a maximum payment of $150,000, lower than the Commission’s recommended $200,000, but with a higher average payment of $76,000.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said the scheme was intended to be “non-litigious” and redress applications, paper-based in an effort to save survivors further distress.

The Commission also called for a national memorial for victims, and better support services and education programs.

An Attorney-General’s Department task force will track implementation progress.