ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has praised the bravery of child sexual abuse survivors for sparking sweeping protections for children through the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The ACT Government has officially adopted 290 recommendations from the royal commission, including creating a criminal offence for not reporting allegations revealed during confession.
Of the 307 recommendations that apply to states and territories, the territory has listed 16 for further consideration and one as noted, saying those require more work.
But Mr Barr says his government has told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull it will implement all the recommendations.
“We do so because child abuse is unacceptable and appalling,” he said.
“We particularly thank those people who have told their story, it’s because of their bravery that these changes are now occurring.”
Among those accepted in principle is a recommendation to force priests to report to police any allegations or suspicions of child sexual abuse uncovered during confession.
“The ACT Government supports the intent of this recommendation and has commenced consultation in relation to creating a criminal offence of failure to report,” the Government’s response report said.
Legislation passed last week extending the ACT’s Reportable Conduct Scheme — which mandates organisations reporting child abuse to the Ombudsman — to religious institutions.
Confession laws postponed
But the new laws exempt confession until March 2019 to allow for consultation.
“In light of the findings of the commission, it’s clear that organisations that work with children whether they’re large or small can no longer assume that child abuse won’t happen in their organisation,” Mr Barr said.
The one noted recommendation relates to changes to working with children checks once continuous monitoring of national criminal history records are in place.
“The ACT is unable to introduce continuous monitoring at this time,” the report said.
But the Government said legislative changes were already in place to extend the checks to five years and improve notification of a change to a person’s status.
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