The Royal Commission has released its fourth Issues Paper Preventing Sexual Abuse of Children in Out-of-Home Care and is seeking submissions from interested individuals and government and non-government organisations about preventing sexual abuse of children in out-of-home care. Submissions due by 8 November 2013.
Submissions are sought from interested individuals and government and non-government organisations on this issue. Submissions relating to Working with Children Checks have been sought in response to Issues Paper 1 and that issue is not raised again here.
Of particular interest to the Royal Commission is:
1. An essential element of OOHC is for a child to be safe and secure. Are there core strategies to keeping children in OOHC safe from sexual abuse and what is the evidence that supports them?
2. Is there evidence for having different strategies to keep children in OOHC safe from sexual abuse depending upon whether a child is in relative or kinship care, foster care or one of the forms of residential care?
3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of models that check OOHC practices by an audit approach, a regular supervisory visit, or an irregular visit by someone like a community visitor?
4. What are the strengths and weaknesses of having OOHC providers regulated by the child protection department, or regulated by a body separate from the child protection department?
5. What are the core components of the training needs of those working with children who might be sexually abused including carers, caseworkers and staff of regulatory bodies? What priority should be given to training in relation to sexual abuse compared to other training needs?
6. Is there adequate and effective training and information available to carers who are caring for children who have sexually abused other children?
7. How should the rate of sexual abuse of children in OOHC be determined, noting that the National Standards for Out-of-Home Care require reporting of substantiated claims of all types of abuse? Would a form of exit interview assist in capturing information? What should be introduced to ascertain whether information on child sexual abuse in OOHC is resulting in changed OOHC practices?
8. What is the usefulness and validity of different ways to address allegations of sexual abuse brought against carers? In particular, which approaches enhance participation by the child particularly approaches best suited to seeking possible disclosures of abuse (including disclosures that might be inferred from behavioural changes) from children? Are the current processes fair? What appeal processes should be available for carers?
9. What measures could be used to assess whether the safety of children from sexual abuse in OOHC is enhanced by independent oversight of the handling of allegations of sexual abuse?
10. What are the strengths and weaknesses of different oversight mechanisms in keeping children safe from sexual abuse in OOHC?
11. What implications exist for record keeping and access to records, from delayed reporting of child sexual abuse?