At the Ordinary Council Meeting held in August 2022, Council voted to adopt the Blue Mountains City Council Child Safe Statement of Commitment as the first step to meeting the legislative requirement of becoming a Child Safe Organisation.
Adopting this statement affirms that Council is committed to keeping children safe and takes child protection seriously.
CEO, Dr Rosemary Dillon, said: “Blue Mountains City Council is committed to working towards compliance with the ten Child Safe Standards as legislated and outlined in the Children’s Guardian Amendment (Child Safe Scheme) Bill 2021.
“Our Child Safe Statement of Commitment applies to all employees, volunteers, work experience students, contractors, contract employees and councillors. Everyone will be provided with appropriate training and support to comply with the Child Safe Standards and understand their responsibilities regarding keeping children safe from harm.
“Child protection is everyone’s responsibility in the community, including Council. Everyone has a role to play in keeping children safe. In the coming months and years we will look to strengthen our policies and procedures in all areas in our journey to becoming a child safe organisation.”
In handing down its findings in 2017, The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that in some cases organisational culture, systems and processes had resulted in children being exposed to harm and that organisations had failed to respond appropriately when that occurred.
To protect children in the future, the Royal Commission recommended that organisations be required to implement ten Child Safe Standards, which were developed drawing on evidence presented to the Commission, its findings and other research. The Standards provide a framework for organisations to create a culture of safety and inclusion and develop strategies to keep children safe from harm.
The Children’s Guardian Amendment (Child Safe Scheme) 2021 came into force in November 2021 to “embed the Child Safe Standards, as the primary framework that guides child safe practice in organisations in NSW.” The legislation enables the Office of Children’s Guardian (OCG) to proactively address identified gaps in an organisation’s systems and processes to implement the Child Safe Standards.
Local councils are considered a child safe organisation given their role in providing local community services and as the representative for the community, including children.
Blue Mountains City Council proposes to implement the Child Safe Standards using a staged approach. A cross-service working party was formed in 2022 and is working together to progress the implementation of the Standards across the organisation over the next four years.
Read more about Blue Mountains City Council Child Safe Statement of Commitment, and Child Safe Standards, at www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/child-safe-statement-of-commitment