Kids stretching

Many people associate child protection with employment screening, like working with children checks which are a legal requirement. But that’s only one of many ways to help keep children safe.

Child safe organisations embed child safety into leadership and culture, actively involve children and families and have many measures in place to safeguard children.

Child safe sport and creating a child safe organisation is everyone's responsibility.  On this page you will learn more about what it means to be child safe and how you can help.

National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

The National Principles were developed under the guidance of Community Services Ministers across Commonwealth, state and territory governments under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020. The Principles respond to recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Click here to learn about the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations About | Child Safe Organisations (humanrights.gov.au).

There are also good resources for Organisations and Parents and Carers here.

Before you start, it's important for clubs to check:

  • any specific child safe standards that may be required in your state or territory (find links to your specific state or territory information here).
  • with your national/state/peak body to make sure you follow any existing child safe guidelines and policies that may have in place. 

Learning from the Royal Commission

Australia held a Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse from 2013-2017, which included sport and recreation organisations.

The Commission identified 10 elements of a child safe organisation. Each element is outlined below - and we’ve also added some practical tips for clubs about how you could incorporate those elements into your club environment.

Elements of a child safe organisation

1. Child safety is embedded in sport club leadership, governance and culture

  • Develop a child safety commitment statement – champion a child safety culture
  • Have staff and volunteers comply with codes of conduct that set out behavioural standards towards children
  • Regularly discuss child safety - include child safety on all meeting agendas, club inductions, training and information
  • Develop a risk plan – identify and mitigate risks to children at your club
  • Appoint a person at your club who is the person to go to if a child related issue occurs.

2. Children participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously

  • Set up a youth advisory group at your club – get input from children and young people often
  • Allow kids to provide feedback in a way that’s friendly to them e.g., a suggestions box, social media survey
  • Talk to kids about safety at your club, let them know how you keep them safe

3. Families and communities are informed and involved

  • Communicate with families about your child safety approach, often and in a variety of ways e.g., newsletter, website, induction, parent handbooks etc..
  • Get input from families on your club policies and practices.

4. Equity is promoted and diversity respected

  • Make sure all children have access to information, support and complaints processes - this could be written, online, signage or pictures
  • Give particular attention to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, children with disability, and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

5. People working with children are suitable and supported

  • Relevant staff and volunteers have working with children checks as required by the relevant law in the state or territory
  • Be aware, when teams travel, working with children check requirements vary between states/territories
  • Use accredited coaches and officials 
  • All staff and volunteers receive an appropriate induction
  • Recruitment, paid and voluntary, emphasises child safety 
  • Supervision and people management has a child safety focus.

6. Processes to respond to complaints of child sexual abuse are child focused

  • Have a child focussed complaint handling policy
  • Complaint handling processes are understood by children, staff, families and volunteers 
  • Encourage everyone to come forward and report misconduct by kids or adults
  • Complaints are taken seriously, responded to promptly and thoroughly, and reporting, privacy and employment law obligations are met. It is important to notify the relevant authorities if there is a suspicion or disclosure of child abuse. 

7. Staff and volunteers are continually trained and educated

  • Staff and volunteers receive training on child protection and your club’s child safe practices
  • Relevant staff and volunteers receive training on the nature and indicators of child abuse.

8. Physical and online environments minimise opportunities for abuse to occur

  • Risks in the online and physical environment are identified and mitigated eg. signs, posters and codes of conduct in visible areas
  • The online environment is used in accordance with the clubs code of conduct and relevant policies. Read more on social media.

9. Child safe standards are continually improved and reviewed

  • Your club regularly reviews and improves child safe practices
  • Complaints and concerns are reviewed for continuous improvement.

10. Policies and procedures document how your sport organisation is child safe *

  • Policies and procedures address all child safe organisation elements
  • Policies and procedures are accessible and easy to understand
  • Leaders champion and model compliance with policies and procedures
  • Staff and volunteers understand and implement the policies and procedures.

* When it comes to policy, it's also important for clubs to check:

  • child safe standards that may be required in your state or territory. Check the National Child Safe Principles developed by the Australian Human Rights Commission and any child safe standards and principles in your states and territory. Check your specific state or territory information here.
  • working with children check (or equivalent) requirements for your state or territory.
  • child safe guidelines and policies that your national/state/peak body may have in place for you to follow. These must comply with the relevant state/territory laws.