2021 Roadshow

The NSW Department of Education Early Childhood Education Virtual Roadshow: May 2021 has now ended. The roadshow sessions were held online from Tuesday 11 May to Thursday 20 May, 2021 with a total attendance of 7,666 participants. View the list of sessions and presentations below. We'll add more presentations as they become available.

Child safe seminar

Child safe seminar

- Good morning, everyone. And welcome to our first child safe seminar for leaders in the early childhood education and care sector and the OOSH sector. And we've had well over a thousand people registered for this, this morning. So thank you so much for making yourselves available. My name is Sharon Gudu, and I'll be facilitating this morning. I'm the Executive Director of Quality Assurance and Regulatory Services at the Department of Education. And my team and I are responsible for regulating, monitoring, and supporting early childhood education, and care services across New South Wales. Of which we have over 5,700. Our work is to ensure that all children, get the best start in life, and our highest priority is the health, safety, and wellbeing of children. Before we begin, I'd like to play a video acknowledging the original custodians of the lands, on which we meet today.

- [Narrator] We acknowledge the first Australians as the traditional custodians of the continent, whose culture is the oldest living culture in human history. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging and we respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and the relationship with the land. We extend our respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today. They share the memories, traditions, and hopes of the traditional ancestors with the new generations today, and in the future. We would also like to thank them for looking after this land for thousands of years.

- And now I'd like to acknowledge that I am hosting the seminar from the lands of the Gadigal people, of the Eora nation. And to pay my respects to Elders past, present, and emerging. And to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues with us here today. Today's seminar will include some mentions and a discussion about child sexual abuse, which some participants may find distressing or triggering. On the slide, are a range of options for support, but please do step out of the session if the content is too much for you today. We will also provide this information at the end of the presentation, and in follow up communications. Okay, I'll just go over the agenda quickly. First, we'll have a quick welcome message from the Minister by video. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to join us in person today. Then we will have an opening address by Robert Fitzgerald, a former Royal Commissioner, from the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse. We will then have reflections from the parent of a survivor of child sexual abuse, Debbie, which is not her real name. We'll then hear from Janet Schorer, the Children's Guardian. And then from Kate Alexander from DCJ. The Department of Communities and Justice. And then our speakers will be on a Q and A panel. And so you will be able to enter questions and answers into the Q and A function of Zoom. So not the chat function, which has been disabled, but the Q and A function you should see it on the bottom of your screen. You can type a question into the box. If you can please be specific about who you want to direct your question to, if it is for someone in particular, or feel free to make it more general if that's what you want. You can also vote on other people's questions, by clicking the thumbs up icon next to their question. Questions with the most votes, will automatically come to the top of our list, and will help us prioritize these, to be addressed by the panel. I can imagine we will get a lot of questions, and we won't be able to answer them all, but we will do our best to collate them afterwards, and send out an FAQ. So please do put your questions in. We will have a break after the first Q and A panel, and then we'll go on to two other speakers, Debbie Dickson from KU, and Glenda Buckley from our team giving the regulatory perspective. And we'll then have another short Q and A panel. And then that will be the end of a wonderful session. So stay tuned. Okay, so our first presentation is a short video, from Sarah Mitchell, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning.

- I would like to begin by acknowledging that I'm recording this speech, from the traditional land of the Gadigal people. I also acknowledge traditional custodians of the various lands, from where all of you are situated today, and I pay my respect to Elders past, present and emerging, and extend that respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples viewing today's session. The safety, health, and well-being of all children in early childhood education and care services across New South Wales is paramount and is one of our key priorities. That's why I'm pleased that following the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, the commission has recommended 10 child safe standards for organisations. By drawing on its findings, research and consultation about what makes organisations child safe, these standards provide a benchmark for your organisations to assess their child safe capacity and set performance targets. In early childhood education, and outside of school hours care contexts, the department supports all services to play a crucial role in providing a child safe environment. Protecting children from harm, abuse, and neglect, and swiftly responding to, and reporting incidents, suspected incidents, and concerns. Today's child safety seminar provides each of you as senior leaders from the sector, with an opportunity to consider the ways you can drive a child safe culture, adopt strategies, and act to put the interests of children first, to keep them safe from harm. I thank you for your commitment to this important issue.

- Now, I would like to welcome, Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald, as our first speaker. Robert served on the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse from 2013 to 2017. He has also spent time as Productivity Commissioner, and Community and Disability Services Commissioner. And is currently the New South Wales Aging, and Disability Commissioner. We'll be hearing from Robert about the importance of discussing and raising action plans to mitigate child sexual abuse, reflecting on his experience. Thank you very much Robert and welcome.

- Thanks very much, Sharon, and I must say it's a great joy to be with you. And I'd also like to share in the acknowledgement, of the Burramattagal people here in Parramatta, who have been associated with the Parramatta River for 60,000 years. So it puts our daily concerns into some context. Look, it's a great privilege to be able to share some thoughts with you this morning. And let me congratulate the Department of Education on hosting this important seminar. Indeed, this is a journey we're going to go on this morning. And in particular, just in the session that I'm going to do. I want to start off on a very positive note. I really do want to thank the New South Wales Department of Education, Department of Communities and Justice, the Children's Guardian and also so many providers for the responses, that they've made since the Royal Commission. And let there be no doubt at all, that there's been a lot of activity right around Australia and in New South Wales, in trying to respond to the really shocking findings that came forth during the Royal Commission. And we've been by no means finished in terms of the reforms that are necessary, nor the measures that are required right across this nation, in every organisation that has a responsibility for, or deal with children and young people generally. And the truth of the matter is, child sexual abuse is a never ending story. It never has an end point. There is no point in your life, or my life, where the issues that we're talking about today, will be any less important or significant. There will never be a time when we take for granted, the safety of our children, and our young people in our care. And so this is simply part of an ongoing process. If we can step back just a little bit in relation to the Royal Commission without going into too much detail. It's now three years, just over three years since its findings were released and its recommendations made. During that time 8,000 people came forward, and did private sessions with individual commissioners like myself. And those private sessions took place across Australia and over three or 400 of those, took place in gaols, and custodial facilities with prisoners who had been abused as children. Of those 8,000 people, they told us a story of abuse in over 4,000 organisational institutional settings in country and regional areas. They told us a story about the difference between government-run, and non-government run services. 30% make up were abused in government settings, 60% in faith based settings, and 10% in secular non-government organisations. They also told us about the type of abuse that had occurred and who were the abusers. And 30% of the abuse was alleged to have been incurred by teachers. And in this case, both at schools, and early childhood, 30% of the institutions named were schools, and early childhood centres. Although early childhood centres were a very tiny percentage of that. And most alarmingly, the average age of abuse was just over 10 years of age. For those in the early childhood space, it's important to know that 10% of girls were abused under the age of four, or four and under, and about 4% of boys. But the in fact, the most abused group where those of between five and 10 years of age. And again, just in terms of numbers, 37% of women who were abused as children, were abused in that category, and about 28% of boys. So what we're talking about is abuse that took place at a very young age. Either preschool, or during the early days of school. And so those figures, we don't know whether they reflect the broad understanding. There's no prevalence data available in relation to this area. But what we do know is a couple of things, that since the time of those abuse allegations, most of which were historical, but some very, very contemporary. We believe the level of sexual abuse in institutions generally has reduced. That is not true in our community. And it's not true of sexual abuse of children within the family. We also know that a number of measures have happened across Australia, as I've indicated, which would indicate that that should be the result. It didn't happen simply out of good luck. It didn't happen because society is fundamentally changed. It happened because governments, service providers, community groups, took action. And that's what we're talking about today. Since the Royal Commission, there's been a lot of activity or indicated, and one of the most important ones has been the acceptance by all governments, of a national set of mandatory child safe principles which are now being rolled out right throughout Australia and including in New South Wales. And the Children's Guardian, we'll talk about that a little later. Those standards are essential. And they're essential that every single provider, every single service that works with children, implement those appropriate to, and adapted to, the particular setting and circumstances. But other things have also happened. Reportable conduct regimes have been rolled out, more extensively than they were in some areas. We've seen changes to the criminal law, that actually holds leaders of providers, actually accountable for the failure to report, but also the failure to act where there is a high risk of abuse to a particular child. We've seen changes to civil litigation, and the removal of statutory limitation. So it doesn't matter when the abuse occurs, a person can come back into the civil system, and have their contentions tested. We've seen redress schemes for victims of sexual abuse, both historical and more contemporary abuse. And we've certainly seen a growing education right throughout all sectors. But the way to start this, I think is also just to look at some of the failures. And the case study that we did, the second case study of the Royal Commission that took place in the first year of its operation, was of an organisation that ran an out of school hours care facility. A reputable organisation. Now I don't wish to do this in relation to the organisation, but I just want to read a couple of the findings. And I want you to think about your own organisations, when I read this through. It said here in the finding, to keep children safe, an organisation must create and maintain a predictive environment, that minimizes rather than accumulates the risk of abuse. The fact that the abuse occurred in the way it did at the centre, calls in to question the child safety practices of the organisation. The actions of the centre during and after the particular workers offending, are not the actions of a child safe organisation. Now remember this, every single organisation that was mentioned in the Royal Commission, would have said to the community, would have said to the parents, we're a child safe organisation. And we know that's not true today. Today the community demands not that you simply say your child's safe, but that you prove it. You demonstrate it. And yes, there has been a loss of trust in organisations dealing with children. And that trust can be regained by what you do. In that finding it talked about these failures. The failure in the recruitment of the particular individual, the failure to do an adequate check. The failure to adhere to background checking procedures of staff generally. The failure to effectively induct centre staff, particularly in relation to child safe matters. A failure to train centre staff in child protection matters. A failure to implement its own child protection policies, including in relation to the prohibition of babysitting, and outside activities with families that attended the centre. The tolerance for babysitting. Inappropriate touching of children, including children sitting on a staff member’s lap. An inappropriate use of mobile phones, and other electronic devices. A failure to comply with staff, child ratios. An absence of an effective confidential reporting system. The absence of a culture of shared responsibility for child protection. The lack of procedures to ensure that staff were kept informed, and supported. And a lack of ability to inform parents in a prompt way, following the allegations. And then in relation to the organisation itself, it found this, and again I just want you to reflect. It failed the organisation, failed to accept responsibility for staff not reporting policy breaches and other concerning behaviour. Failure to know the requirements of the then commission for children and young persons act, relating to carrying out background checks. A failure to implement their child protection policies, which they had themselves established. And then, a failure to properly analyse the events leading to the offending in relation to recruitment, induction, training and supervision. If you think about your own organisations, you may well say that hang on, some of those ring true in our own organisations or did. But if we look at the failures, we've also got to look at the positive measures. And what's very encouraging is the material and resources provided by the Department of Education in New South Wales, and indeed other departments like Communities and Justice. It's first rate material, informed by the work of the Children's Guardian. And today no organisation involved in early childhood, or in fact in out of school hours care, could possibly say that they are ill informed in relation to this matters. Unless of course they choose not to be informed. And the biggest challenge in child sexual abuse, and child abuse more generally is the culture and leadership of organisations. So let me just take a few points in relation to that. The first is to understand that the changing of people's attitudes, particularly men, is not going to be achieved in the short term. 90 to 93% of offenders, sexual offending, is done by men. And that's the truth in Australia. And it's the truth throughout the world. There's been no significant change, no evidence in significant change yet, in the general attitude of men. In this session today, I know that I'm talking to people that have been deeply affected by sexual abuse in their own lives. In their families. Or they've had friends that have been accused. And I know that it is possible, while I'm talking to people that have a propensity to, in fact, commit child sexual offenses. That is to every audience that I address. But the point as a provider, is that you can't change the attitudes, but what you change is behaviours and opportunity. So child sexual abuse in institutions, organisations, childcare centres, preschools, and so on, is all about changing the environment, in order to reduce the capacity to offend, and also changing the behaviours and identifying behaviours which are unacceptable in your school. I would like to think we can change over time the attitudes of those who may be at risk of offending, and perhaps we will. But right at the moment, child sexual abuse can only be prevented in institutional settings, if we change the environment, and the behaviours and conducts that are appropriate. And so much attention is paid to that. The second thing is that child sexual abuse needs to be normalized as a topic within your particular centre. It isn't a special topic. It's not a topic to be talked about once a year and then forgotten. And it's certainly not a topic to be talked about in the dark. We need to develop a community of knowledge. That isa  knowledge about what are the risks of abuse, what leads to abuse, and how we can seek to prevent it. And that knowledge needs to be shared right across the organisation. From the board and the advisory committee level, through to the most senior managers of those organisations, to every single staff member, including gardeners and maintenance crews, right through to parents. And of course, ultimately in an age appropriate way to children themselves. If we don't have that community of knowledge, and the minimum child safe standards in fact embrace that, we fail. If this is not a topic that's talked about regularly, actively discuss with staff, part of induction processes, part of just about every board meeting, and advisory committee meeting, then in fact, we will fail. It is the normalisation through knowledge that's important. The third thing is that normalisation, how do we look at it? The best way that I can say to us is to look at it in terms of workplace health and safety. When I was growing up in Australia, people went to work and never came home. They died, or they were severely injured. And whilst people were aggrieved by that, that's what happened and we accepted it. And then Australia changed. Australia said no, it is not acceptable. We want workplaces that are safe. Safe in every way. And we've created both State and Commonwealth regimes in relation to work place health and safety. Some say we've gone too far, perhaps so, but at the end of the day, we now do have in fact a culture of safety within your workplace. And that is exactly how we have to approach issues in relation to the sexual and other abuse of children. We have to treat it as a core part of safety. Indeed, the Royal Commission contemplated putting some of the aspects of child safety into the workplace health and safety regime. And in some time to come, that may happen. But to try to have an understanding, you have to think of it in those terms. And not be frightened of it. And not in fact try run away from it, but to normalise it. And if you don't, you will fail. Another aspect is in relation to building resilience within children. Now, of course, very young children are complex, and some of the stuff the parents and others talk about as abuse, is not abuse. It may in fact be perfectly normal and harmless activity, or alternatively, it may be problematic behaviour which needs to be addressed in some way, shape or form. And particularly as we start to move into the primary school years, and in out of school settings, this may become more prominent. But we do have to have a way of having a language with children of all ages. And again, for young children, it's very much about what some people call a traffic light system, understanding what is in fact acceptable for that age group, and what is not. And of course that is contentious. Parents, educators, workers generally all have different opinions. And that's why it's so important that organisations like the education, and others give good sound, sensible, common sense guidance to workers within the early childhood sector. It's very important that we don't in fact send the wrong messages. And that we don't in fact exemplify conduct that is otherwise normal. Equally, it would be completely inappropriate to miss the signals and signs. And I've indicated to you in the centre that I was talking about, one of those was in relation to babysitting. Sitting on people's laps, being over-friendly with children. But those issues became identifiable frankly much earlier. And the other staff took little notice even though the policies themselves were quite explicit about that. So again, it is a community of knowledge with children, with parents, with workers and with other people generally. The next point I want to make really is that it is not about your opinion, it's about your judgment. I want to be very clear about this in the Royal Commission what we found is putting aside the motives of the abuser. Many, many, many organisations failed to respond when it was clear that something was not right. And as a community, as human beings, we tend to look at conduct and say, well, it's a bit odd. It's a bit different. It's not quite what we'd expect. But we refuse in our minds to say, that's actually abuse. Because if you do, you have to act. If you actually come to a view that somebody is abusing, or neglecting another person, there's a moral imperative for you to act. And so we sit just below that. So what we discovered is people would say to us, oh I didn't know abuse was taking place in my school, in my childcare centre, or in my church, or in my swimming club. But when you actually explored that, they did know a lot of stuff, and they were uncomfortable. So the first thing is, it's not about you forming the view that abuse is taking place, it's forming the view that something's not quite right. That the code of conduct is not quite being implemented. That something is different and unusual that's taking place. And then to escalate those matters through the system. The second part about it is not your opinion about the staff member who may report it. We had numerous examples where teachers and others, were concerned and reported the matters to the next level in the school, or in the centre, but what we found is the personal view of that worker, by the managers, impacted. In a school in relation to kids with disability, the teacher was absolutely spot on that there was very problematic behaviour occurring between students of a severe nature. Because that teacher was out of favour with her supervisor and the principal, they refused to act on her advice. Ultimately, she was proven correct. And ultimately the matter was reported. But those personal opinions of staff members or reporters, or parents, get in the way of making good judgment. But the third thing is, if there is in fact an allegation of abuse, what we tend to do as humans is we immediately form an opinion. There are four opinions. The first is, he could never have done it, he's a wonderful person. All the children love him, the parents adore him. He couldn't possibly do it. The second is, well, I'm not sure about, but those people are always complaining. For teenage children it's worse. It's she or he is always making up stories. For young children it's a very different situation. The third is, I'm not sure. And the fourth is, I always thought something was wrong and he's as guilty as hell. What we've discovered in the Royal Commission is those preconditions, or those opinions you form had an impact on the investigation and reporting of the abuse that took place. And so my view to you is your opinion doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. What matters is, if you observe conduct that is inappropriate, is against the codes, is against the minimum standards, then you need to act. And you need to allow the investigation to take their course. And whilst you will always have that opinion, and I can never change your opinion about that person, you need to exercise good judgment, and exercise excellent judgment in relation to what you actually do with that complaint. It's the only crime that I know of, and I'm a lawyer by background, where, nobody changes their opinion, even if a person is convicted, or acquitted in a court of law. My view is, your opinion doesn't matter but your judgment does. And that's a very important thing for managers, for boards, for leaders of organisation to understand. In this case, and I hate to say it in a sense, process is your friend. Now process can get in the way of doing a good job sometimes but in this space process is your friend. And those processes will be informed by the work in the many child standards that we're talking about later that Janet and others will refer to. And of course, it matters because it's of the practices and the practice frameworks, and the practices that you incorporate into your particular centre and organisation, will inform how you are to respond. Now in relation to early childhood, I actually met a number of parents where children were abused in childcare. I've also met a number of the child sex offenders, who in fact perpetrate abuse against very young children. It is a complex area. The younger the child, the more complex it is. The evidence is more difficult. The opinion of parents, more subjective really, and less objective. Nevertheless, we have good guidance and good practice that should allow workers, and volunteers, boards and management committees to respond in this way. And I urge you to let process be your friend in relation to this matter. The last point I want to make in terms of overall prevention is in relation to the culture and leadership in the organisation. We make a big deal about culture in organisations, and that's because Royal Commission, after Royal Commission has indicated that the culture of the organisation, and the attitude of its leadership including boards, management committees, CEOs and others, actually is the most critical element in the whole child safe framework. If the culture is permissive of conduct that is inappropriate. If it is permissive of favouring particular staff, over other staff and allowing them to get away with things that other staff would not be allowed to do. If it's a culture where it assumes the centre is safe, but doesn't actually constantly review what it's doing, and how it's doing, and having feedback loops, then in fact, these permissive cultures of bad conduct will occur. I accept absolutely that most people did not know the perpetrators were actually abusing in many of the circumstances. What I don't accept and won't accept is that they didn't see anything. Many did, but failed to understand that that was abuse, or alternatively failed to appreciate that they needed to respond in a particular way. My last comment is actually about child sex offenders generally. The one thing you don't know, and I don't know is who they are. If we have these thousand participants faces on the screen could you pick a child sex offender? The answer is you couldn't. Because child sex offending has many motives. Some are actually paedophiles. That is that they have a mental health condition that attracts them to young children under the age of puberty. Others, it's about the inability to have intimate relationships with adults. And this was particularly to, in religious communities. Where instead of having sexual, or intimate relations with adults, they would find it easier, and necessary to have it with children. Completely and absolutely abusive in character. Nevertheless, they would see it differently. And the third are those that would never offend outside of the institutional environment, that is surrounded by children. If they weren't in a school, or an educational centre, they would never actually offend anywhere else. And there are multiple variations on that. So the one thing is you don't know who the offending person will be. So I go back to where I started. We can't change the attitudes of those likely to offend quickly, although we hope so over time. We can certainly reduce the opportunities, through the environmental factors. And we can certainly be much more prescriptive in relation to behaviours that are acceptable, and unacceptable. But ultimately at the end of the day, it's how you respond. I think that in New South Wales and in other States and Territories, we now have the resources, and the capacity to educate leaders, staff, volunteers, in an appropriate way. Sometimes it will be too much, sometimes too little. And sometimes you'll feel the regulations have gone way too far. Those are matters that we can work through. But ultimately I think we are in the best position we've been, to be able to seriously address the abuse of children generally, within institutional or organisational settings, and in particular, in relation to sexual abuse. My very last comment is, there often within these environments of problematic behaviours between children, there are often two victims. One of the things we noticed, when we did a number of case studies in relation to schools by primary and secondary schools, both government and faith-based, but also early childhood was in fact that many of the kids are coming through also have abuse in their life, in their own family circumstances. Many of the kids were coming from families where there was already dysfunction. Sometimes abject poverty, certainly distress and trauma. And so it is a complex environment with which we're dealing. And children themselves have their own vulnerabilities. One of the great challenges for us as a society, is to reduce those factors, reduce significantly the level of family and domestic violence. Respond much more appropriately earlier, to the mental health needs of children, and certainly be far more responsive to their needs, where in fact their particular family, is in a state of distress and ultimate breakdown. You as a childcare centre can't deal with that, but you have to be attentive to the fact that that's the environment with which we work. So I just wanted to conclude that by saying, I think we're on a path. A journey that will never end. And your vigilance, your good judgment, your common sense, and your willing to let process be your friend. I think you've shown a fighting chance to be safer today, than they were in the past. Thank you very much.

- [Sharon] Thanks very much, Robert. Some really powerful messages there from Robert. And I think the one we'll keep in our minds for the rest of the session is that we can never take safety for granted and we are all responsible for taking action. Okay, next we'll be hearing from Debbie, who is the parent of a survivor of child sexual abuse. We'll be using the pseudonym Debbie, to protect the identity of her and her family, and she is going to keep her camera off as well. Welcome Debbie, to share your reflections with us and thank you so much for being brave enough to talk about this really difficult topic.

- [Debbie] Thank you, Sharon. Can I just check that you can hear me?

- [Sharon] Yes.

- [Debbie] Okay, great, thank you. Thank you, and thank you to the directorate for inviting me to share my family's story with you all today. I apologise for having to talk with you anonymously. My family's experience of child sexual abuse is still the subject of a legal case. And within that, I'm not able to identify myself today. When Sharon told me initially that the directorate were aiming for around 500 attendees today, I was really happy to see the faith that they were showing in the sector's commitment to increasing safety for children in early childhood education and care settings. When I heard last week that the numbers were up over a thousand, I was literally blown away. My experience of walking through the systems and regulations governing the sector 10 years ago, was far from the response the sector has shown to this initiative today. Please keep the momentum for change alive and moving forward from today's seminar. Before I start with my story, I would like to acknowledge those with us today, whose lives have been impacted in any way by child sexual abuse. I admire your courage and commitment to being part of this significant change needed to break the vicious cycle which impacts far too many of our lives. I would like to begin by talking about the impact of child sexual abuse, through the lens of my family's experience. Some things I'll share with you, it won't be easy to hear. The impact of child sexual abuse is never easy to hear. But the fact that it's not easy to hear is why we are here today. Because we care about children, and hearing about the devastating harm they suffer through child sexual abuse, is so far from what we all value as the rights of each child. To lay an historic framework to this, I'm going to read an excerpt from a keynote speech, delivered to the Australian institute of criminology conference on paedophilia in Sydney way back in April, 1997. This was delivered by Dr. Bill Glaser, who was an American psychiatrist, well-known for speaking out against failures in systems meant to support people with mental health needs. Dr. Glaser, and his speech, paedophilia the public health problem of the decade. Imagine as a society afflicted by a scourge which struck down a quarter of its daughters and up to one eighth of its sons. Imagine also that this plague not immediately fatal lurked in the bodies and minds of these young children for decades. Making them up to 16 times more likely to experience it's disastrous effects. Finally imagine the nature of these effects. Life-threatening starvation, suicide, persistent nightmares, drug and alcohol abuse, and a whole host of psychiatric disorders. What would the society's response be? The scourge that we are speaking of is child sexual abuse. It has accounted for probably more misery and suffering than any of the great plagues of history, including the bubonic plague, tuberculosis, and syphilis. It's effects are certainly more devastating and widespread than those of the modern day causes, which currently take up so much community attention and resources, such as motor vehicle accidents, heart disease, and now AIDS. Yet the public response to child sexual abuse in now is fragmented, poorly coordinated and generally ill-informed. A massive public health problem, like child sexual abuse demands a massive societal response. But firstly, we need to acknowledge and understand the problem itself. And this is sadly enough, a task which both professionals and the community have been reluctant to take. Despite the glaringly obvious evidence in front of us. As Dr. Glaser pointed out 24 years ago, we are very bad at acknowledging and trying to fully understand child sexual abuse. Because as I said, it's not easy. It's one of the most challenging things we can put our minds to. It's confronting, it's emotional. And you may witness how emotional it is for me at times over the next 20 minutes. But I feel no shame in showing how emotional it is for me. Conversely, I would feel shame in not speaking out about this. But for generation after generation, it has been too confronting to have these conversations. This has created a void of silence, which has only empowered perpetrators and failed our children. One by one, 100 by 100, 1000 by 1000, over and over again. I believe in this generation’s strength and courage to change this. And you as a sector can be very powerful proponents of this much needed change. My daughter was one of multiple girls who were preyed upon by the co-owner of their childcare centre 10 years ago. In one way my daughter was fortunate in that the perpetrator was in the grooming phase with her when we heard about the first criminal charge against him. She did not suffer any of the sexualized behaviours which some of the other girls disclosed, but she still suffered extreme early childhood trauma. Because part of the grooming process, is using fear tactics to silence children. In my daughter's case, that meant the perpetrator telling her that I would go to gaol if she told anyone about anything the perpetrator did to her. So, when my daughter opened up to me about some inappropriate tickling behaviours, knowing that there were already criminal charges against this perpetrator involving two girls, I took her along to a police interview. At some stage in that interview her four year old brain established the thought that she had been tricked. And what he said was true, and I had been taken to gaol. She ran out of that interview and jumped into my arms in a trembling sobbing state. Said mama I thought you'd gone to gaol, and I'd never see you again. She instantly started displaying the behaviours of a one year old. Was diagnosed as in regression by our child protection unit counsellor and was in a deep state of trauma for many, many months. There was a complete loss of her sense of safety. She spent months not wanting to be away from me in any way, as her brain had decided that each time she said goodbye to me, I would go to gaol, and she'd never see me again. There was complete loss of emotional regulation, which of course meant extreme behaviour challenges. She would have very aggressive meltdowns multiple times a day, lashing out, hitting herself and hitting me. There were night terrors. My four year old, my daughter went from being a supremely confident, strong and vital four year old girl, to an empty shell of herself. Talking like baby babble, chewing on a blankie, not able to go to the love of dance, and gymnastics classes. And needing to carry at least six of her cuddly toys whenever she left our home. She went from being an eating machine who would eat pretty well anything, to only wanting two favourite meals night after night. A few months before starting primary school just when she was showing very strong signs of healing, she broke down at night, going to bed saying, mama I'm not going to go to school because the principal will be like him. For weeks I had to let her think that she didn't have to start school the next year, because she simply did not have the safety to hold that thought in her head. I worked with our counsellor to support her through this. And she eventually got off to agree to start school. She has descended back into trauma twice. The first time was after I was a witness in a Royal Commission public hearing when she was nine. After four months of counselling, again with the child protection unit, she walked out of that phase stronger than ever. She then powered through life until last September, when our civil case against the perpetrator was heard in the Supreme Court. We are currently still walking through this second regression. There has been six months of anxiety, depression, and significant school avoidance. Once again, my daughter has been transformed, from someone who has always loved school so much that she hated having to stay home when she was sick, to someone who has extreme anxiety about being at school. Someone who was supremely social to isolating herself. Two months ago, her depression hit the point of us having one scary night of suicidal thoughts. Thankfully, over the past month, she has stepped up into a recovery phase. With her strength slowly but surely returning. If we weren't on this better trajectory, I have no doubt that I would not have been in a space to be able to be part of today. This is just a snapshot of my daughter's trauma. And we were fortunate enough to have had access to the specialist supports we needed. I was fortunate in having an awareness of the importance of reaching out to those supports to provide my daughter with the specialist guidance she needed to be able to walk through her trauma, and find herself again. Unfortunately, there are many children or families who do not have access to these supports. Or who lack the awareness of the importance of reaching out to them. I know of one girl who was abused by the perpetrator in that centre whose family chose to move on with life without accessing any supports, truly believing that was the best path for their daughter. Very sadly, this young girl is now struggling with drug abuse, which started when she was 13 years of age. The research tells us that this is all too common. This is the impact of children not being protected from those who harm them. This is the reason why in Sharon's words, you as a sector need to shine a spotlight on child sexual abuse. In the weeks and months after my daughter's abuse, I did a lot of reflecting. One thing I reflected on was why did the perpetrator only start grooming my daughter a few months prior to all of this coming to the surface when she had been at that centre for two years, and the other girls had disclosed long-term abuse? I reflected on the fact that, in the lead up to the period where my daughters grooming began my mother had passed away. Not long after that I had separated from my children's father. My daughter had lost hope in loving men and her family life had drastically changed. She was in a state of emotional turmoil. And I was communicating all of this to the centre's director who was the perpetrator's daughter. I was doing this in the trust that the centre would respond appropriately to my daughter's changing emotional needs. However, this meant that the perpetrator was privy to all of this private information about my daughter, about her vulnerabilities, about my vulnerabilities. It is no coincidence that I started seeing the early signs of change in my daughter around about this time. I feel this is a very important point for those of you who are centre -based to think about. Not every child a perpetrator targets will be displaying signs of vulnerability, but the research does tell us, that children experiencing vulnerabilities are more at risk. If you are aware of children in your care experiencing vulnerabilities, I encourage you to increase your observations of that child and keep open communication with parents and carers. In my reflections, I would also replay moments in time from that centre over and over again in my mind. I gradually began to see signs. Signs that something was not right. It was like an insidious jigsaw puzzle randomly coming together in my head. There were signs that I should have seen, that I should have reacted to. But I didn't see them because I didn't know they were signs. I had no knowledge of the grooming behaviours perpetrators use to gain trust of parents, and other adults, including other educators. Ultimately, this trust gives them access to children. Naturally the guilt I felt as a mother going through those reflections was intense. And it took me many years to find a place where I could sit with that. I want to say to you today, as people responsible for the safety of children, as people who care about the safety of children, you do not want to ever have to have to feel the toxicity of knowing that you missed signs that children in your care were at risk of harm. Knowledge is powering this. You need to commit to knowing what grooming behaviours look like. Leaders need to ensure they enable educators to understand grooming behaviours and patterns. Know the signs to look for, and respond to. Having awareness of the signs of potential risk to children is one thing. But what if people with that awareness don't know how to speak out, or don't feel safe in speaking out. Or feel they will be ostracised by other staff if they speak out. Or maybe they feel they may lose their job for being a troublemaker. Or maybe they just feel their concerns will be dismissed. The sector needs to commit to providing cultural safety for all to speak out about concerns, about potential risk of harm to children. There needs to be clarity of policies and processes for speaking out. And all of this needs to be viewed through one lens. What is in the best interest of all children in our care? This question needs to be asked at every step through every reflection and in each planning meeting, through each policy review. No decisions should be made without being framed around this question. Cultural safety needs to be driven from the top down. Leaders need to lead in this. For larger organisations, this begins with the governing board. Board members need to ask themselves, what are we doing to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our children? How much do we know about child safe practice? What conversations should we be having at the board level around child safety? Do we preface each decision around the safety of our children? How are we communicating our focus on child safety down to our senior leaders, to empower them, to empower our educators in child safety? To give them permission, to make child safe decisions, which may at times seem to go against our business instincts. So new leaders need to constantly reflect on the conversations they are having around child safety. They need to ask are our policies and procedures all embedded in child safe frameworks? Does each policy truly reflect the best interest of each child in our care? Do our educators have the awareness and supports they need to identify signs of potential risk to child safety? Do they know how to raise concerns? Do they feel safe in raising concerns? Do they know that they can go above me with a concern if they feel that that is in the best interest of the child? Do they know they will be heard and responded to appropriately? Do they know that they are valued for the vital role they can play in preventing harm to children? And educators need to ask what conversations are we having amongst ourselves to continually improve our collective child safety capacity. Am I committed to speaking out about my concerns, and to keep speaking out about them until someone responds appropriately? Ensuring everyone in this sector is armed with this awareness, safety and clarity, has a double-edged impact. It empowers those who protect children, and disempowers those who harm children. The policy, practice, regulatory and legislative frameworks which underpinned the early childhood education and care and out of school hours care sector, and the protection of children more broadly have evolved across bygone eras in which the best interest of the child lens was far from being on the radar. This means that unfortunately there are still systemic failures across each of these frameworks. I personally have come across many systemic frameworks over the last 10 years, in my quest for answers as to how so many children were allowed to be harmed by the perpetrator in that centre. And how, even though at least six girls disclosed the harm the perpetrator had caused them, our criminal case dragged out for 18 months charges to be dropped the week before the case was finally due to go to court. This quest has taken me into some very dark places where the absolute lack of what is in the best interest of the child lens, was so shocking that it had a very detrimental impact on my own mental health. I learned through this journey, that the only way to drive change is speaking out and persisting. Finding a way of sitting with a feeling that you are being an absolute nightmare in the face of system apathy. And some people just want you to go away. We will never fix all the historic systemic failures if we just go away, and we need to challenge ourselves in this. We need to ask have I in the past trusted a system or process which wasn't in the best interest of children? Do I still go along with systems processes, because it's just what we do without questioning it from a child specific perspective? Have I been part of what needs to change? Am I still part of what needs to change” One example there is for me was the police interview process which led to my daughter running from the room, from that room in a deep state of trauma. I did not question the process at the time, as I trusted the system to do what was in the best interest of my daughter. But I was devastatingly wrong about this. When we arrived home from that interview, my daughter laying on our lounge in a state of shock, asked me why I had let her go into that room with two strangers without me. I explained to her that the police had rules, just like we have rules at home. She looked me directly in the eyes and said, that's a stupid rule mama. Don't ever do that stupid rule ever again. My four year old daughter was able to call out a stupid rule. A rule that adults had made to support the system's need for evidence, with no concern for the best interest of the child. We as adults of today, need to call out stupid rules. You, as individuals charged with keeping children safe, need to call out stupid rules. So, if a policy goes against the best interest of children in your care, call it out. If a process goes against the best interests of children in your care, call it out. If a regulation goes against the best interests of children in your care, call it out. If the legislation goes against the best interest of your children in your care, call it out. I would like to finish by sharing with you some words from the public speaking speech my daughter did when she was in year six. When encouraged by her teacher to do a speech on something that was personally important to her, she chose to do the speech on child sexual abuse. The conclusion to this speech resonates strongly with some of the messages that I would like you to take away from my talk today. She finished her speech with these words “So please stand with me to stop child abuse. And remember, rules are meant to be broken. The laws are meant to be changed. And mouths are meant to be spoken. Thank you.”

- Thanks very much, Debbie that was incredibly overwhelming. There's been a lot of acknowledgement from the audience in the Q and A about their appreciation for your braveness in speaking about your story. And those really powerful messages as well about speaking out. So thank you again. Our next speaker today is Janet Schorer, who's the New South Wales children's guardian. Janet has a long-held passion and commitment to making sure the most vulnerable members of our communities are recognised as an integral part of society. Janet's passion led her to train as a nurse with children's hospital before gaining qualifications as a child and adolescent psychologist. Janet has played a leading role in the development and implementation of Aboriginal child and family centres, across New South Wales, and led negotiations with the Australian Government, as the Executive Director of NDIS reform in New South Wales. Today Janet will be presenting on the child safe standards and what they mean for our sector. Thank you, Janet.

- Thank you very much, Sharon. I wanna start by acknowledging that I'm on Dharug country today, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. And extend that respect to Aboriginal people who are online today. I also want to just pay tribute to Debbie and to her courage. And the courage she hoped, I think she'd never have to find to do what she's had to do, for her daughter and for her family and herself. And I think for me in the role I'm in, and for us, hearing as you said, Debbie, the stories, the experience of children who have been through what your daughter has been through, and to keep learning and making change is so important. So thank you for telling your story. Thank you for speaking up. It's also a reminder to me that this is not an issue of the past. This is not something of history. This is an issue that is today. And as Robert said earlier, child sexuall abuse, and the abuse of our children, is something that will be part of us, as long as there is humanity. And so the challenge for us is how do we get better at implementing measures, and improving our systems so that we are better able to protect children. For those of you who don't know me, I'm Janet Schorer, I'm the New South Wales, Children's Guardian, and head of the Office of the Children's Guardian. And so what I want to talk to you briefly about today, is our role, and our vision for how to create safe organisations for children. The OCG is an independent statutory agency. We have regulatory oversight and investigative functions. And what we really want to do is make sure that we act to create high standards of children being safe in New South Wales. We have a range of functions in the organisation. We regulate the statutory out of home care system, and adoption services. We administer the working with children check, and the NDIS worker check. We also are responsible for the reportable conduct scheme in New South Wales and for the official community visitors alongside the aging and Disability Commission. And we are the lead on developing other work around the child safe standards in New South Wales and that’s a really exciting piece of work for us. You have already seen and heard some of the work within the Department of Education to implement those standards in early childhood. As you've heard already this morning from Robert, the child safe standards were recommended by the Royal Commission to provide a best practice evidence-based framework, to guide safe practices that put children and young people at the centre of an organisation's operations and purpose. They are ultimately about improving organisational culture, operations and environment to prevent all forms of abuse. So sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, ill treatment and neglect from occurring. And to be able to respond when that does occur. This means that child safety will be a focus of regulatory oversight for the early childhood sector and others as we move forward. In November 2019, the New South Wales parliament passed the children's guardian act. This was an act that was the first step in consolidating our regulatory functions to create the foundation for the oversight of all child related organisations and practice in New South Wales. The first part of that was to transfer the reportable conduct scheme to us from the New South Wales ombudsman, and to be able to have that scheme and all of the insights that we can gain from it, to apply into the child safe context. The Royal Commission recognised that there's benefits from having child safe functions alongside working with children check. Having confidence that the people who work with our children are safe to do so, and reportable conduct that we have visibility of when there are allegations and how they're managed, all sitting within the same agency. And for us, that's really helped to streamline not only how we do that oversight with organisations but helps us to really understand where there are trends, and patterns and gain insights for how we can equip and support organisations to be safe. So bringing those together, those functions together really helps us to influence and lead building the capacity with leaders and peaks and organisations to be child safe in New South Wales. As part of our work in implementing the standards, we have also been looking at the next stage of the amendment to the children's guardian act, to legislate the New South Wales child safe scheme. Subject to passage through parliament, the plan is that the standards will be embedded in legislation and further strengthen the oversight of child related organisations. And I think that really is a key feature of a preventative and future looking change that the Royal Commission recommended, and we want to honour and keep a focus on that. I think we've heard already this morning that organisations on their own, even with good intentions, can't manage the strengths and the preventative work on their own, that enables them to be continuously improving and accountable for the sort of change we need. And so what we have seen in doing this work is being able to proactively address the gaps that we see in systems and processes that can prevent future abuse. This scheme is really guarded by the standards that came out of the Royal Commission. And what we wanna be able to do is respond in a proportionate way through the availability of our strength and powers to be able to monitor. Investigate when we need to act with enforcement powers against those standards. What that will mean for the early childhood education sector is that it'd be an expectation that organisations are child safe, and that you have in place a range of measures against those standards to protect children from harm. We've been on a nearly two year journey of consultation and taking a lot of feedback from stakeholders in the most recent round from December to February this year. And that feedback has been overwhelmingly positive about the intent and the purpose of the standards, and the objective of the scheme, particularly in being able to be flexible. There is no... without specifying exactly how organisations must meet the standards. There are thousands of organisations that work with our children and young people every day, from education providers, religious organisations, sporting groups, many others. And we need to be able to apply that, and implement those standards in different ways consistent with the situation. With the risks that organisations are managing, with their own values, and with their own communities’ expectations about how children are to be safe. One of the guiding principles that for us in our work in developing the child safe scheme, has been to reduce duplication and to avoid over fragmenting the system further where there are multiple agencies doing the same thing. Because we know that creates regulatory burden, it fragments, it duplicates, and we're not interested in that. We wanna make this as easy as possible for organisations who are delivering services to children to value children and their safety, and do that simply. What we have proposed to do is that certain New South Wales government agencies will develop a child safe action plan, that will provide us with detail about the strategies that they have in place. To build awareness in the community, about the importance of child safety. To build the capability of organisations to implement the standards within their remit. And to improve the safety of children, by implementing the standards. So we're asking government agencies to take a lead role in not only shaping their own practice, but to speak to their community, their stakeholders, about the importance of child safety. And to really be change agents, to be champions, and drive the sector that they influence for reform. For the early education and care sector in the Department of Education, as well as the regulator of early childhood, education and care, they will prepare their own child safe action plan to guide how they will influence change, and embed child safe practice with their existing regulatory functions. So it will be something like a memorandum of understanding that has the roles and responsibilities that each organisation will have, and to how that will look in child safe practice. Those negotiations will start later this year, but we really are guided by the desire to reduce fragmentation duplication. We are also guided by work underway currently as part of the national quality framework review, which is considering how the national principles, which are the same as the standards will be embedded into the national quality framework. You probably know the Australian Human Rights Commission released the national principles, for child safe organisations, and they've been endorsed by COAG. But both the standards, and the principles describe the same elements for child safe practice. The organisation, the OCG considers organisations in New South Wales that are implementing the principles will be implementing the child safe standards because they are pretty much identical. Hopefully many of you have participated in the consultation about the national quality framework review, and you've provided your feedback about how the national principles can be embedded in the framework. And I think there's already a significant alignment between the framework and the principles, but maybe there's some work to do to address gaps around organisational culture, as preventative for child abuse and how the online environment in particular, can be safer for children and young people. So we'll be watching this closely into the future so that we can work out the roles and responsibilities for my office alongside the quality and regulatory services in the regulation of the child safe standards, given the opportunity that we have to create a much more aligned environment to support you. Another consistent theme from our consultations on the child safe scheme is that stakeholders want more resources and support to be able to implement the standards. Capability building and support, rather than prescriptive compliance, is really the foundation of the scheme from our perspective. The Office of the Children's Guardian continues to develop new guidance material on the standards which we make freely available via our website. And we provide support for you through online training. These are materials across a range of subjects that promote a consistency as to how the standards can be interpreted. We produced the guide, to the child safe standards last year to encourage and support every child related organisation to implement the standards. They provide you with some practical examples and outline how you might put each standard into practice. We've also produced a guide to developing a child safe code of conduct, and our empowerment and participation guide is now available for download. There are new e-learning modules also available on how to respond to reportable allegations, and those have been very actively taken up in the early childhood sector, which I commend you for. And we will continue to roll those out, and refine those over the rest of this year. Some of the other resources and support, that we'll be developing over this year will be template policies and procedures, which give you detail about how you can build or adapt to existing systems. Or your policies and procedures. We will include examples about how to do a risk management guide, how to write a good child safe policy, and a complaint handling guide. We're also starting this year to deliver more face-to-face training, including cross regional and remote New South Wales, as we get into the second half of this year which will focus on training on the standards, and what we are calling skill builders. How to take particular aspects of different standards and focus skill development around how to apply them. Short, bite-sized focused content, that allows you to and your staff to select areas where you need the most help. We're also running two hour workshops, that use our child safe resources as a guide, and covering the most important topics. So things like a code of conduct, your child safe policy, your risk management plan, and your compliance and reporting policy. What I hope that you get a sense of for you as early education sector, is that you aren't alone in implementing child safety standards. My office will have resources and training in place to support you in your effort to be child safe. And we wanna also work with quality and regulatory services to develop resources that are specific to you, and supports your needs in the work you do with children. I'm sure that you're aware we have a Child Safe Coordinator for the early childhood sector, Rachel Norman. Now she's been working really hard to build awareness of the importance for the child safe standards in your sector. While this work has been focused on building awareness of the standards, as we progress with the legislative framework, we're taking it up a notch. We started a pilot capability building project, that involves Rachel visiting services to informally discuss and assess how you're implementing the standards. This will help inform where you need support most. Participation in the pilot is entirely voluntary and strengths-based, where you can showcase your best practice, and get feedback on aspects of implementation as to how you can make improvements. We hope that as well as helping services meet the standards prior to any legislator's game, it will also inform and enhance your existing quality improvement plans. Given the alignment between the standards and the national quality framework, these informal assessments with the child safe coordinator may also help your rating under the framework. I recognise that starting something new can be daunting but I'm confident that the early childhood sector is responding well, and we've seen evidence of that already. We've been really encouraged to hear so many stories about services already implementing the standards. Some family daycare providers are sharing their rigorous processes about child safe recruitment, where they go above and beyond what they're required to do under legislation. Implementing standards doesn't need to be complex. We've been told about providers who are doing character references of household members, and providing child protection training for household members, as part of their recruitment practices in family daycare. With services and modifying their physical spaces, and the times where therapists are working with children in their centres, so they can maintain line of sight, and keep children safe when they're with children outside of their employment. We know not all services are at this point and this is a journey, but we will continue to share best practice examples to show you how child safe practice is achievable. We receive regular calls from service providers asking for advice and support about how to implement certain aspects of the standards that go beyond meeting their reporting obligations. This illustrates to me your sector's strong commitment to improving child safe practices. We still have a few steps to go before the child safe scheme as intended by the Royal Commission, is implemented in New South Wales, including the child safe amendments bill, that we hope will go through this year. Subject to that parliamentary process, the child safe scheme is intended to commence later this year, or early next year. At that time, my office will begin negotiating the child safe action plans with the Department of Education and we'll keep early education stakeholders up to date on those negotiations. But the child safe scheme is about continuous improvement. Looking at what you already do in your day-to-day work to see what can be adjusted, and if there are gaps in practice against the standards, how do you fill those? The focus of the first two years of the implementation will be about capability building, and support. So we encourage you to actively use the child safe resources and support, or get in contact with our child safe coordinators, if you have questions. We also encourage you to keep moving along the journey. Keep progressing, and keep asking yourself questions, guided by the standards and all the principles so that we can bring the rights, and the wellbeing of children to the forefront. And support their safety as you care for them each day. Thank you

- Thanks very much, Janet. And thank you so much as well for highlighting the importance of how the OCG, and the department work together, to avoid duplication or fragmentation. And that is something that we've started to do strongly in partnership. And we'll continue to do, through the implementation of these standards. There have been a couple of questions in the chat and we'll come back to those in the Q and A panel in a little while. But I also just wanted to say, cause it's come up a lot, I may not have said it the beginning, this whole seminar, this morning is being recorded, and will be made available to everyone. Okay, so our final speaker before the first Q and A, is Kate Alexander, from the Department of Communities and Justice. Kate is the Executive Director, Office of the Senior Practitioner for Community Services, and has worked in the child protection field for more than 20 years in a variety of roles, including therapeutic casework and management. Today Kate will be presenting a practice focus session, regarding child protection and the role of DCJ in protecting children. Thanks very much, Kate.

- My name is Kate Alexander and I'm the senior practitioner of the Department of Community Services and Justice. I start today by thanking the Gadigal and Wangal people, on whose land I work. I acknowledge that Aboriginal people fought for their lands in battles of unwinnable odds, and that they've fought for their children every day since. I acknowledge the resistance and courage of Aboriginal people, and I thank them for all they have taught me in our practice. What I would like to talk about today is DCJ’s work, and our practice framework, which sets the scene for how we're working with all of the children, and all of the agencies that we take reports from. When I started in my career, I was a social worker in a sexual assault service. And in those years I only worked with children who'd been hurt by sexual assault. And I later moved into child protection, and obviously worked with children with risk from physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect as well. And as you all know, they're often forms of risk and harm to children, often combined together and it's hard to isolate one from another. For years I asked children about their feelings. How did you feel when your brother touched you? What was it like for you when the police talked to your dad? I don't remember real answers. Certainly not ones that came with words. But I can't forget the shame. Real shame, gnawing away where it had no place behind shrugs, indifference and avoidance. I wish I hadn't asked all those questions. They made no dent in that shame. How I wish I knew then, what we know now. Today we are working differently with children who have been hurt by abuse and violence. We are taking on shame in new ways, and with fresh hope. Thanks to the Royal Commission, we in DCJ have apologised to a lot of people who resisted and survived institutional abuse. They're our best teachers, the bravest people, the most deserving of our regret, the most entitled to our shame. They have taught me what's important about the ways they are heard and remembered. They have taught me with unmatched power, to uphold dignity by honouring resistance. If you scan the transcripts of the hearings of the Royal Commission, you'll see the fervent and collective motivation of survivors to come forward best described by this man. I told my story so that terrible things to children stop happening. His resistance, our responsibility. Understanding the importance of resistance has changed our view of the work. Why did one woman tell the Royal Commission that as a little girl, she would dress herself in several layers of underwear and clothes before going to bed? I don't know, but I'm guessing she did because she didn't just want people to know she had been sexually abused. She wanted them to know, she did everything she could to stop it happening. When one man described how he learned to read by listening into the other children's classes in the boys home where he was put, I suspected he wanted it on the record that he did his best. When a girl at Parramatta Girl’s home carved the walls, carved the words into the sandstone walls that she was locked in overnight; I love my mother, and another wrote I hate this place, they left their struggles and defiance, in an indelible form. They demand to be remembered. When that remembering hones in on acts of resistance, we uphold dignity. We in Department of Communities and Justice don't run horror homes anymore. But the power we hold has not changed. Nor has our duty to use it well for children. The work of modern child protection is so different. It's all about assessing, motivating and partnering with families for better outcomes. This is our new practice framework, and it does a very simple job of showing all that we're trying to do in our work to partner with families, and the sector differently. It, at it's core, are five principles. And I'm just gonna show you the principles really quickly. The principles are what unite our workforce. We are the largest child protection system in the Southern hemisphere. About 2,300 caseworkers operating out of 80 offices all over New South Wales. We're a diverse workforce, often described as a multidisciplinary workforce but it's not really a true description. We bring people in from a range of qualifications. We have a wide entry gate into our systems, of professional qualifications. And we put a caseworker hat on everyone. And in some ways had expected people to practice in the same way. What the practice framework did, and we introduced it in 2017, the principles at the heart of it, aim to unite that culture, and aim to unite our workforce. And most importantly they aim to help us partner differently with families, and to work with families as a form of motivation. The first slide, the first principle next is about culture. And it's a very simple statement that says we respect all culture. We are deeply sorry about the impact of the stolen generations. Being sorry means we're committed to making sure we do not repeat past injustices. The second slide is about language. The one about this principle that is so important is that we've really worked hard to clean up our words. And the words that we are working to clean up, are words around... These that are nicely grouped under these headings. We're really working to change words that minimise, mutualise, pathologise, sanitise, and bureaucratise. This is about the way we talk about children, and it's the way we write about children and the harm that has been caused to them. This is the sort of sentence that has littered child protection files and health records and police records, for years in the way children have been described. Jessie was exposed to incidents of domestic violence between her parents. Jessie is a seven year old girl, and she can read her father's mood the second she walks in the door. She might be on her feet, distracting him, calming him, cajoling him. She's masterful. Sometimes it works and when it doesn't, and she knows what comes next, she takes her little sister to their room and closes the door. She puts her arm around her sister, and  hands over her ear. She speaks softly with fast words to reassure them both over and over, “mum will be okay.” This little girl is way more than exposed to violence. She lives with it. Is on constant alert, and she does her creative, and courageous best to manage it. In the morning her well practiced eye takes a quick inventory of the hurt. This fear has not left her, and it is surely no incident. It is all she has ever known, and she cannot see an end. And when she worries about whether her mum will be able to get up out of bed to take her to school, it shows hell is not because of violence between anyone. We are getting better at saying who did what to whom, we are getting better at calling out differences in power. And we are using plain language to describe awful things. We are working hard to help our workforce come out from behind words that kept us safe, and distant from the children we are here to serve. Next, we are asking less about feelings and more about actions. Wherever there's oppression there is resistance. It's powerful knowledge and skillful hands. The right questions can pave the way for new understanding, and they honour resistance. And for those of us responsible for making decisions about children, the right questions are only fair. What did you do when your dad hurt you? What did you do after it happened? Those questions help children describe their actions to resist and survive. It helps children see themselves as survivors and copers. And it helps the workforce around them move children from victims to survivor. It upholds dignity and it's a much easier way to get children talking. These are some examples of the sorts of sentences that we're really trying to target in our work around language. Jade has a history of violent relationships with men. Jack absconded from his placement. And Tara was subjected to sexual intercourse without her consent. Next, the last sentence there, I want to look at, Tara was subjected to sexual intercourse without her consent. Was a sentence I took straight out of a coronial inquiry I was involved in. I've obviously changed the name. Tara was a 14 year old girl, and in evidence she was described with this sort of language. It's about us really encouraging more real words. If we could jump ahead, please, and you'll see the different descriptions and the way we're helping people speak in more plain language. When we talk about children who are 12 and 13 and 14, being in sexual relationships with adults, what we do is we really are describing acts without agents. And we are not describing where their responsibility lies. Sophie was in a sexual relationship with a 28 year old man. Or Sophie was sexually exploited. The differences in those two sentences, are palpably obvious in the way that where they lay responsibility. And we're really helping our staff in the way they write, and the way they talk. The other bit about this principle, about languages, the importance of encouraging our staff to speak to families with respect, and about them as if they're in the room. Now, this has been an important principle and we're working hard all across the State to really encourage our caseworkers to buy into this. To buy into it, they have to understand its importance. And what it means is that any conversations about families that take place in cars, in group supervision, in the coffee queue, in the kitchen, in the workplace, need to happen in a way that if the family could hear themselves being talked about they would feel respected. They might not agree with what was being said. It doesn't mean we can only say nice or positive things but it does mean they need to feel respected. It's important because we know that if you change the way people talk, you will change the way they think. And we're hopeful that that will spill over into their interactions with families. We need to remember that in working with child sexual abuse, we're asking a whole lot of families. And we're asking a whole lot about how we need families to step in and support children. For years we as a large child protection system have asked a lot of mothers, and we've expected mothers sometimes to believe and accept something horrendous has happened to their child by someone they may love and trust. And we've asked them to move out, or to take out an AVO or to act quickly or suddenly. And we may have judged them if they are not able to do that straight away. The most important thing I learned about child sexual abuse very early on, is that disclosure is a process not an event. And what that means is that most children have reasons, all sorts of reasons, not least of which one is it talking about things makes them real. Most children will have periods where they will describe or disclose and later withdraw what they said. And retracting is very, very common. And there's good research to back that up. We need to work with parents, non-offending parents with the same generosity of thinking. Not incident based, but with time to help people understand and accept and take on the unimaginable. I remember working with a mother many years ago who was non-believing when her daughter disclosed. And it was easy for the system to want to be critical of her very quickly. And the conversation about should the child be taken from her care was on the table within hours really. And when you look back, it was really important for us to understand that the father of this child, the father who perpetrated sexual harm to his daughter, had been painting his daughter as someone who was not to be believed for years. The day we arrived, and the day that courageous young girl described sexual abuse, and we arrived on the scene to ask the mother... To put the story to the mother it's not surprising. It's not surprising that she took time and she needed space to believe what her daughter said. She had the choice of accepting the most horrendous thoughts and feelings about her own child, and about the choices she had made, and about what their future looked like. She could live with that knowledge, or she had the choice to accept a view of her daughter that her husband had been painting for years. And we needed to give her the time. And that woman did come to accept the truth of her daughter. And she did come to support her. And she did come to separate from the husband but she needed time to do that. And we needed to do that through relationships that created change, and restored dignity. So the importance of this principle is really about the second sentence there that says we persist and take responsibility for the quality of the relationships we form. That's about encouraging us as a department, not to blame children and families if our work with them doesn't seem to be meeting their needs. We no longer say things like children are sabotaging the placement, or parents are disengaged, or parents are hostile or resistant to working with us. If we are wanting to talk like that, we rely on group supervision to challenge our caseworkers, to say hold on a second, let's not blame the family if our intervention doesn't appear to work, let's question ourselves about what we might need to do differently. It's about persisting and taking responsibility. So, the importance of this principle is obvious, is encouraging the workforce to be open to thinking that we might've got it wrong. And to be more than open to apologizing. And I started by talking about the importance of the Royal Commission to the way it's changed practice for this department. We've got good at saying sorry, and that is flowing right through to our workforce. And where we've got it wrong, or where we've used our power poorly, it's important to step in and say, sorry. So that's just really about giving feedback and accepting alternate views from the sector, and using group supervision, and family group conferences to bring those disparate views together, and to value them. And understand that children need people to collaborate for them. And that might mean that they don't always agree. And we need to tolerate ambivalence, and we need to tolerate ambiguity in our work with families. So I just wanna finish up on this one, which is about ethics and values, being integral to good practice. And this is really where I started, with how the work of the Royal Commission has changed our work as a department. And it's about how we really think about the enormous power, statutory power we hold, when we walk into family’s doors. We're walking on sacred ground, we say all the time to our caseworkers. And the importance of ethics and values is really helping our workforce see that their compassion and their skills are as important as their statutory powers. And how they work with families when they knock on the door is trying to help them work with skills as much as their statutory powers, and leave their powers in their back pocket, is what we often say, until there are times when children really need us to step in with that. It's also about remembering where there is oppression there is resistance. And that is what we call dignity driven practice. And it's a really important part of the way we're trying to work. It's about being curious, about dignity, preserving strategies. It's asking children what they did, and asking children how they've coped. And it's bringing out a different picture that helps us see children's pain differently. I end with a story from my colleague and good friend, Alan Wade, who I must mention because his approach response based practices, really been incredibly important to the formation of our framework. Alan Wade told a story of a work he did with a woman who had been sexually abused for years. And by the time she came to work with him, she'd had a number of labels attached to her. Personality disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, you know the labels. Pretty ugly words to label what was essentially her coping skills. And the example she gave is that he asked her what she did when her father sexually abused her. And she said, what do you mean, I couldn't do anything. And he said, well, what did you do to survive? And she said, well, I went somewhere else in my mind. I used to pretend I was a bird sitting on the branch outside my window. And he said, well, that was an amazing skill in surviving that was your way of resisting. And she said, in all these years, I thought I was fucking crazy. And that's what we used to do was pathologise women and children who had been hurt by sexual harm and men. And our way of working is about honouring resistance. Resistance doesn't always equal safety, we know that. But it's a really valuable way of working and partnering with families. I need to finish up. I just wanna finish up by saying what we say every day in this place, rules and tools do not keep children safe. People do. And I really want to keep the hope for all of you in the work we do together. How we collaborate together. And how we take the learning from the Royal Commission. And how we keep the spirit of safety explicit in our work with children. Thank you.

- Thanks very much, Kate. There were so many things that Kate said that you could really apply to the early childhood sector including some of those finishing up words around, it’s people that keep children safe. It's not the rules and tools although certainly those are needed as well. But I also, was thinking about when Kate was talking just about how we listen to children and families, and how we make sure not to blame them, but to actually give them a voice and to work with them respectfully. But there are many, many other observations that I'm sure people will have made through that. So all of our speakers have been fantastic this morning, and I'm sure generated a lot of food for thought. We are now gonna go into the Q and A session, we've got about 20 minutes. And we'll get our panellists to turn on your cameras, if you're able to. I know that Kate, you had a little bit of trouble, but for anyone who's oh, we can see you now Kate. Wonderful. And then Robert and Janet, if you are able to turn on your cameras, that would be great. Now I'm just gonna go to the questions. So if people can feel free to type some questions into the Q and A, during this session. But the first one I think it's really; it's aimed at myself as a regulator and Janet as... A co-question, I should say, which is very appropriate because we are in the process of working out how we co-regulate. So the question is about how the child safe standards will be mandated and governed? And asking whether the Department of Education will be including this in their monitoring visits and or assessment and rating. Or will the OCG be somehow overseeing and monitoring? It's a really good question. It's something that we are talking about how to do in the best way possible. And Janet had talked about the development of a child safe action plan, which will operate in the sense of an MOU between our two agencies. And Janet did make the point several times as well, that we don't want to over-regulate or over-complicate or fragment the system of how we monitor and so forth. The aim is to be supportive, and integrated. So Janet, can I throw to you to add anything to that?

- Yeah, thanks Sharon. I think, yeah, I'll just agree. It is very much a work in progress, and I don't foresee that my office will be out on site in every organisation every year. We're anticipating that's about 25,000 organisations that will fall within the scheme. So you can imagine that's not what going to be where we are. What we hope is that we will have some form of self-assessment, that people can do, and that we will then use that to focus on whether it's either a sector-based, or a location-based, or a where we see trends of different standards not being done well, that we will focus our effort around those sorts of factors rather than... And that might be with a particular government department for example, rather than us, being in every organisation every year, all the time. That isn't what's going to happen. And I don't think that really drives culture change. As Kate said, it drives compliance, it doesn't really speak to prevention. So, the partnership will really be about, because you already have a national quality framework, what is the link between the quality of care that you expect to see under that, and how that's regulated? And how does that tie in with the standards, and how do we use each other's information helpfully in doing our respective work, but how do we also just stay out of each other's way I guess, so that we do the bits that we need to do well, and not overburden organisations, and centres unnecessarily.

- There's just another question for Janet about what training will be provided by OCG. And I think you touched on that. But if you could just reiterate that as well.

- So we've already... As I said we'll revamp and reinvigorate our face-to-face training in the second half of this year we move to... Obviously for the last 18 months we've been online. So we'll still offer a fair amount of what we do online. The training will be, as I said around different aspects of the standards. There are many other people who train in the child safe standards in New South Wales, and nationally. So, we're not the only..we're the free people, but we're not the only people who do it. And we will do more specific, shorter courses around particular skills or particular aspects of standards that might go to aspects of governance, leadership, how you do work around risk assessment, and risk management in particular organisations or particular sectors, that sort of thing. So a fairly wide, but we're always open to suggestions. Our communities have practice. And the webinars that the child safe coordinators hosts, are really... As much for us to get intelligence from you about what you need, in terms of training, results, development. We do all of that in-house. So whatever you need, we're fairly able to turn that around and resource you with what you need. So always willing to hear what you need in terms of resources and training, but the program will really ramp up in the second half of this year.

- Thanks, Janet. And I'll just mention that we've been working on a set of guidelines in partnership with OCG that should be published in the next couple of weeks just to bring to life the child safe standards in our sector. There's a question here for... There are plenty of other questions I should say, but I'm not gonna get through them all, but I'm just gonna pick some out and then we will send out the FAQ's with the answers after this as well. But a question for Kate, can you explain what is expected from DCJ caseworkers in relation to the early childhood sector? And on what level should we be working with them? And what information should we be provided as the child's care service?

- Thanks, Sharon. That’s a big question. So, couple of things about our relationship with the sector, and particularly the early childhood one. Two things of importance with this. In the last six months, we've completely overhauled our caseworker development program. So when our brand new caseworkers come in to the agency, they have a whole new 16 week induction to the way they're on boarded as they say, as caseworkers. What's different about that, that's relevant to the question is they get a whole lot more information about how they work with sector partners. So our ability to bring in, and connect, and respond to reporters who are concerned is improving we surely hope because we're putting a lot of work into it. The other part of it is the importance of the way the sector works through child wellbeing units, and through to us as the helpline. So as you know, we run the 24 hour helpline, and we take reports from mandatory reporters, and concerned members of the community. And really it's incredibly important for people to remember that anyone can call the helpline. And anyone can rise concerns with the helpline if they want to. Going online is our mandatory reporter guide. And all you need to do is type in the mandatory reporter guide, if you haven't had that easily available through your own workplaces. And the beauty of the mandatory reporter guidelines is that it will help you step through, when you need to be concerned, and when you need to report to us. We have had an experience in recent years where we receive a lot of reports that actually don't reach our threshold for risk. And sometimes when they come from the sector, the education sector, the early childhood sector, for example, and we've said to people, have you used the mandatory reporter guide? And we've started asking that question out of curiosity. And often reporters will say to us, yes, we used it. And we'll say, what did it say? And they will say, it said not to report, it didn't reach threshold . But there is clearly a sense that people still wanna report even if the mandatory reporter guidelines showed that it wasn't reaching the threshold for risk. And that's an important thing about us as a community. It says there is something we know in reported behaviour, that telling the department makes people feel less worried for children. It makes them think, oh, well because they know about it, maybe that helps, or the department might know something else about this child, so if I add my bit to the story, it's sort of completing a picture. But we really encourage people, if the mandatory reporter guide says not to report, we really encourage that people use their support services and their supports within their own agency, about what else they might be able to do to support families. I'm not sure if that's enough information there. We are trying to do our bit to improve the way we work with the sector. And we really try to encourage the sector to use those services. To help them think through when they make a report. And then when they do make a report, asking whatever they need to about their worries with the helpline is absolutely the right way to do it.

- Thanks, Kate. There are so many really interesting questions here. I'm sort of working out which ones in our few minutes left. But there is one that I think is really worth getting some thoughts on from probably Robert and then Kate is that conversations with the children in early childhood can be difficult to navigate, as you know, the little ones. Are there training of resources that are available through DCJ, or DOE that can support educators. But drawing on the statement that Robert made about having those discussions with children every day.

- So Kate can answer the more detail. What we discovered is that many of the people that came to the Royal Commission, including those that reported that they were abused at a very young age, indicated that they believe they had disclosed. But that people didn't understand what they were saying. And that was the great challenge. And I think Kate's teams would understand this very well. Most of them actually thought they had disclosed what was happening, but they did it in ways that adults, caring adults yet alone those that don't care, couldn't quite understand, or didn't respond to. So one of the great challenges in the early childhood space and the early primary school base, is how do we pick up those signs? How do we allow that disclosure to take place in a way that is safe and supported? But it was a clear message. And even very contemporary. Kids in high schools today, had exactly the same message. We had a lot of research with children. Children today and they were  saying exactly the same thing, that they were actually thinking they were describing but nobody was responding. And it often was a more than a miscommunication. But Kate can answer what's the tools available.

- [Kate] Thanks Robert.

- Thank you.

- I'm not sure I can give a comprehensive answer about what we do to train the sector in those conversations because there are no real formal programs that I'm aware of for that. We certainly work with the association of children's welfare agencies, and we are looking at ways we can partner better with some of those skill-based programs. But there are no formal programs that we run for the early childhood sector, in how to have those conversations. I completely agree with Robert about the number of children who have described that they said things like, I don't want to go to netball with dad anymore and they thought they were disclosing and of course it wasn't obvious to other people. The importance of where today's session started around the language of child safe organisations, when we hear things like that, and all that information is combined together, the little messages children might be giving, and our line would be that teachers... We wouldn't expect teachers or early childhood teachers to see themselves in the role of facilitating disclosures or asking questions but what do they do if they're worried? What do they do, if there's something about a child? And encouraging child safe organisations, where it's seen as completely appropriate to talk to someone about your worries, because you're focused on children's safety. So it's all those little examples. If they're brought to a team leader, they're brought to a manager, and they're a call to a child wellbeing unit. A call to our helpline. People are always open to talk about that. We have caseworks, what we call casework specialists in all our districts across New South Wales. Their job is to do training. So a local casework specialist, in a local region could easily come out, and run sessions about how we work together when people are worried about what children might be trying to tell us

- Can I jump in there, Sharon?

- [Sharon] Sure.

- So there's three things that I'm aware of that might be helpful. And happy to provide links for them in the FAQ's that go out. The first is that there was a guide developed I’m fairly certain by the national office of child safety about handling complaints, but doing so in a way, and concerns, and doing so in a way that was about how to interview and get complaints from children. I'm fairly sure that's published, it was done in partnership with the New South Wales ombudsman's office. So we can make that link available after the session. The second would be the empowerment and participation guide that we released last year. That draws on the research from the University of South Australia that was commissioned through the Royal Commission. And we have released that in partnership with the commission for children, young people in Victoria. And whilst that's about the participation of children and young people, and what a child safe organisation looks like, I think if you are having those conversations and using that tool, I think there is a likelihood which the guide alludes to, that you will honour some of the worries that children have and that disclosure comes. At the end of that guide, there is different games you can play, different age appropriate sessions you can have with children and young people about what a child safe organisation looks like. So those might be another tool to look at. The third is our five heroes. And I know many early children... I've been to sessions in lots of early childhood centres using those, particularly for younger children, to talking about having the five heroes. Five people in their life that they can talk to independent of each other, about what's worrying them. But often the conversation obviously leads to something that is going on for a child. And I know that's part of the training that we do when we do that in person, but that's moved online. But that might be another resource that has a different purpose, but it leads to disclosure. And then the support from the complaint guide about how you might handle that, once you have that information.

- In all of the organisations, it's critical that there's a person that you can talk to about your concerns as distinct from reporting. Now, whether that's an external person that sits in a department, or whether it's an external person that sits in another organisation, we cannot and don't want early childhood educators to be, you know, determiners of abuse of children in their care. What we want them to do is to raise concerns and to find a safe place that that can be discussed. Because the problem that Kate raised with reporting is there is a real danger that some of the agencies, are now reporting everything. And they think that's it. It's a bit like working for children's checks. We've done our check, that's it. Well, over reporting is very dangerous especially if you then don't do anything. You abrogate responsibility to someone else. But what we try to do with frontline workers not only in child, but even in the abuse of older people and others. Is to get frontline workers to go to a place where they can say, these are my concerns. And somebody with knowledge, skills, and expertise in the organisation, or external, can give some guidance. The danger is trying to make frontline workers experts, can't do that. But we can give them the tools to know that something's not quite right. And then, absolutely, we've got to say and here's where you can discuss this. And without that we actually abandon them. We leave them in a terrible position. And if the only alternative is reporting, well that may be what you do, but it's actually going to get us into more troubles, not less troubles going forward. So there has to be a safe place where a person can raise their concerns, queries, and you're in a better position to know where that is. And who those persons are.

- Thanks Robert. There's a question here, which I'm keen to throw out to anyone who's got some views on it. It is about whether services should have CCTV surveillance in their services. It's a contentious question that comes up a lot in our sector.

- I don't know what the standards are, so let me make the first point. It's a very firm... I know this sounds a bit odd, but I'm going to say, it was a very firm recommendation to the Royal Commission that CCTV cameras be installed much more actively in all large scale juvenile justice centres, and other sorts of facilities, because it goes to the individual, the opportunity to offend. You actually have to change the environment. And depending on the nature of the organisation, sometimes CCTVs, if they're operating and they haven't been turned off or broken, actually are very effective to say, as it dissuades behaviours. Secondly, it has some evidentiary basis. I'm not able to answer about childcare, but the truth of the matter is we are living in a society where surveillance by everybody at all times is becoming a reality. And I suspect childcare centres will be no different. There are issues of privacy, and those in the childcare sector can talk about that more fully but I suspect it is a safe guard measure. And if I were owning a childcare center, I think I would increase the level of the CCTV surveillance in those centres. How far? What areas? what shouldn't be caught up on those TVs, is an issue for others. But the trend to doing that is well and truly, with us and in some circumstances absolutely necessary. If you are going to create an environmentally safe environment within which children are actively engaged.

- Thanks Robert. Any other comments on that? Kate or Janet?

- I think I'll just say, agree with Robert. And I think that is with us now. I wouldn't, it won't be something that we would prescribe either way. That is, it's a matter for providers to contemplate all for you as a sector to contemplate, because there are a range of other things that obviously go with that as Robert has alluded to. Not least of which someone's got to review it, and do something with it because there's no point in having it if someone knows, if someone's minded towards perpetrating they'll know if no one actually looks at that stuff and does anything with it. So you've got to actually do that side of it. But I guess my caution would be, I think because so much particularly in the education sector, in its broadest terms there's so much opportunistic offending, I think over-reliance on that kind of technology without doing good risk management, and the other things that go with, you know, recruit people manage conduct, you know, if any conduct goes out, you know even near the guard rails, you've got to address it. All those sorts of other things, must be in place alongside that. Because like worker screening, if you only rely on that, you're not really doing the job that is about putting the rights and interests of children and their safety first and foremost, it's just ticking another box. So it might be a helpful tool but it's got to be part of a bigger response, I think.

- Yeah. Look, I completely agree with everything that's said. I can't add anything except just one very simple point. Is that sometimes we look to ways to eliminate any physical danger to children. And this comes up a lot in whether they should have contact visits with someone who has hurt them. And the notion that someone's presence, or a video will stop sexual abuse, doesn't still make it safe for children, if they don't want to go to those visits. There can be all sorts of cues and comments that perpetrators can use, that are distressing and abusive to children that other adults or videos will not pick up on. And it's just really important that we remember that if children are saying they don't want to see the perpetrator, they don't feel safe to do it, that we really need to listen to that. And no amount of vigilance will protect them for things that are unforeseen to others.

- Thanks, Kate. That's a really good point as well. Debbie, did you wanna make any comment on anything that's just been said in that regard?

- [Debbie] No, I think I might stay out of that conversation is very, very contentious. I can see both perspectives, but I'm not qualified to... As Robert said if there's evidence around there, that's where I'll go from first.

- Okay, thank you. We have come to the end of time, unfortunately, because there are so many other questions there. But what we will do, as I said before, is to compile those and reach out to our panellists for some insights on those that are specific to them, if that's okay, so that we can go back and send out an FAQ. So I will draw us to a close on this part of this morning seminar, and say a very, very big thank you to Robert, Debbie, Kate, and Janet for your fantastic presentations and insights. And we will be sharing this, for people that have asked about that and we will come back to you on those questions as well. So, thank you so much for your time, we really appreciate it. To the participants, we'll just take a three-minute break, or we can have five minutes, for a bathroom break, a cup of tea. So, we'll reconvene in five minutes at 12:07, for the final bit of our seminar. 

Just while we are waiting, just one more minute to come back. Hopefully people have realized in the Q and A box, that some questions have been answered. I think you should all be to see the tabs at the top where there's opened ones, and the answered ones. There's quite a lot about resources and documentation. As I said, this will be recorded and shared but we also will send out a reminder about the existing resources, both on our website and the OCG’s, and we will continue to update you on new resources that become available. There was also a good question about whether we could communicate with local councils and mayors and so forth that cam operate services. I think that's a really good idea, so we will take that one on board. And some of the other questions that are there are slightly more complex as a couple of good suggestions about conversations between states and the federal government around ACCS which we will pass on to our policy colleagues to have a look at as well. Okay. Let's get back to it now. We have got two speakers now, sorry, I'm just gonna go to my notes and remind me where we are up to. I mean if we can go to the next slide. Okay, so we've got, the next speaker is Debbie Dickson who is the Manager of Child Safe and Wellbeing at KU children's services. I know that there were a couple of questions in the chat about how large organisations can implement the child safe standards, so this speaker will give a lot of insight on that exact question. Debbie will be discussing how KU have approached the application of child safe practices within their services. So welcome Debbie.

- Thanks Sharon. Good morning, everyone. Like my colleagues, I too acknowledge the traditional owners on the many lands on which we are meeting today. In my short presentation, I want to share with you information about aspects of KU's ongoing child safety practice project. As a sector, child safety and wellbeing has always been part of what we do. The early childhood sector has a number of frameworks, regulations and legislations, which are designed to keep children safe. One of the main objectives of the NQF is to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of children. And one of its guiding principles, is the rights and the best interests of the child are paramount. The national law and regulations, have legislated many child safety requirements for early childhood services. The national quality standards set out national benchmarks for quality areas including children's health and safety and relationships with children. In New South Wales, staff working with children have been mandatory reporters under child protection legislation for many years. And since 2000, background, working with children checks have been required for people working or volunteering, in child related work. Additionally, the early childhood sector has been part of the New South Wales reportable conduct scheme for 21 years. Despite all these child safe mechanisms and requirements, which have been in place for a number of years, the reality is that children have continued to be at risk of intentional, or unintentional harm in early childhood settings. In the post Royal Commission world, we continue to hear of incidents of abuse in early childhood services. And we understand as organisations working with children, we have a responsibility to do all that we can to keep children safe. The regulating of the child safe standards, as recommended by the Royal Commission, has put the focus on child safe practices in organisations. The standards uphold the rights of children and are focused on preventing harm to children. They provide guidance for organisations about creating a child safe culture, and practical actions which can be taken to keep children safe. Can I have the next slide? KU has a long standing commitment to inclusion in child safety. We are a not-for-profit, early childhood education and care provider in Victoria, the ACT in Queensland, as well as New South Wales. As a large organisation, we are fortunate to be well-resourced. This includes a child safe and wellbeing team which has supported services for nearly 20 years. KU services are also supported by educational quality managers, education support managers and an Aboriginal programs team. In early 2019, before New South Wales had released the child safe standards, Child wise, an organisation which supports organisations to build environments and cultures, which are child safe, presented leading and governing a child safe organisation to the KU board and executive. The presentation provided an overview of elements of a child safe organisation and referenced the national principles for child safe organisations, developed by the national office for child safety, endorsed by COAG in February 2019. The leadership team saw only positives in adopting the national principles. They reasoned implementing the national principles would strengthened an already strong child safe culture. These high visibility commitment to child safety by KU's leadership teams, gave enormous momentum to critically examining and enhancing child safe practices across the organisation. The 10 national principles are very similar to the New South Wales child safe standards. And the Office of the Children’s Guardian considers organisations in New South Wales that are implementing the national principles are simultaneously implementing the child safe standards. The national principles resonated with us, as an organisation. The focus on inclusion, the participation and empowerment of children, and the prioritizing of child safety, aligned with our values and practices. We felt the national principles worked alongside the NQF, to enhance child safe culture, and child safe practices. A major step in KU's child safe journey, was when the board allocated funds in early 2019 to create a child safe project team. The project was coordinated by a member from the child safe and wellbeing team. The initial six months term was extended and the child's safe project team operated for two years. A number of experienced and capable staff worked with, and sometimes in, the team for a period of time, to develop child safe resources and documents. The child safe project team started by conducting a self-assessment of KU through a child safe lens. So that is a gaps analysis. And so I've identified as a provider of early childhood, there were many child safe mechanisms and requirements already in place. A strength-based approach was adopted, in which the project team identified priority areas enhancing child safety at KU. On your screen you can see the 10 child safe focuses, which were identified by the project team. And these are based on the national principles. These became the basis of our child safe action plan, which has resulted in the development of the child safety practice at KU resource folder. Each child safe focus was broken down into topics. Each topic was reviewed, and consideration given to existing practices. How could they be improved? Were resources or training required to ensure staff were well-informed and had best practice? The child safe project team coordinated, consulted, provided guidance, and support, and developed many key resources and documents. Next slide, please. It was accepted while everyone working at KU prioritized children safety and wellbeing it was important that staff understood embedding the national principles in their practice, would be positive for children and for staff. In 2019, the child safe project was launched at a directors and managers professional learning day. The chair of the KU board, spoke to the staff about the board's commitment to KU being a child safe organisation. Our CEO, Chris Legg, and the head of the Child Safe Project Team spoke about child safety at KU and the child safe project. On this day, we had professor Daryl Higgins, present understanding and implementing safeguarding practice, preventing abuse and harm to children. Professor Higgins clearly articulated that when motivated offenders have the opportunity, they will harm vulnerable children. Professor Higgins identified why an early childhood education and care settings, can be high risk for children. And emphasized that every adult, working with children needs to be aware of the risks, proactive and vigilant in keeping children safe. Professor Higgins’ address helped staff across the organisation to understand the need, and see the value of adopting the national principles for child safe organisations. Once the need was identified, the commitment made by the whole organisation, and the priorities established, the focus of the project shifted to updating some KU processes and policies through a child safe plans and providing information to staff about positive actions which help keep children safe. Next slide, please. Over the last two years, the Child Safe Project Team has worked with different departments within KU, to develop the documents which underpins, the organisations child safe practices. The first two documents released in 2019, with a statement of commitment to child safety and wellbeing, and the KU promise to children. The elements of many of these child safe, nuts and bolts documents, were scattered across a range of existing KU policies and practices, all set within the existing KU code of conduct. These have been reviewed and we have developed, or are in the process of finalizing some child safe specific documents, such as the child safe policy and the child safe code of conduct. Many existing policies, processes, or documents, have been, or will be reviewed and updated through the events of the national principles. This includes not only policies in relation to practices for staff working with children, but also human resource practices including staff recruitment, staff induction and orientation, and to the complaint management framework. The development and reviewing of child safety documents, resources, and training is ongoing. The child safe practice folder is a growing resource which contains spec sheets and think about, on child safe topics. These provide information and prompt team discussions and critical reflections about child safe practice and services. These include topics such as peer to peer sexual behaviour, teaching personal safety, children's rights, participation and empowerment. In the time I have left, I want to focus on child safe in practice at KU. The child safe and well-being team provides centralized support, advice and assistance on a broad range of child safety and wellbeing issues to all KU staff. The team has a strong advocacy focus for at-risk and vulnerable children. And works with staff to ensure practices always in the best interest of the child. The child safe and well-being team, also investigates any concern raised about an educator's interaction with a child, making the appropriate external reports and notifications in that process. The child safe and wellbeing team plays a critical role in ongoing training and capacity building of staff, so that staff working with children are confident and proactive with taking action to keep children safe, and to protect children from harm both in their home environments, and at the service. All staff are required to attend a refresher child safe, and well-being training every 12 to 24 months. The content of this compulsory two hour training is roughly summarized in the Venn diagram you can see. Child safe organisations, sits around all of the practices at the service. Staff are then trained to recognize and take action, if they have any concerns regarding a child's safety or wellbeing whether that concern arises in the home, or at the service. The refresher child safe and wellbeing training focuses on ensuring staff working with children are child safe aware. As the other Debbie said earlier this morning, knowledge is power. Is essential staff have that knowledge to be able to prevent harm to children. This training includes, general child protection information such as recognizing abuse and neglect, responsibilities as mandatory reporters and supporting disclosures. And those are the KU process for responding to child safe and wellbeing concerns. The training has a strong child safe focus and has been designed to ensure staff will take action and are confident to raise concerns or complaints in relation to a child's safety and wellbeing, in the home or the care environment no matter how low level. We want to be able to take action early, and improve poor practice, or prevent a serious incident of harm to a child. The training ensures staff can recognize inappropriate or concerning education interactions, including presenting physical interactions, the crossing of professional boundaries and possible grooming behaviours. Staff are reminded of the importance to not only treat all children with respect, but to listen and empower children to speak up, share their feelings, experiences, and opinions so that if ever they need help, they know they can speak to staff and they will be listened to and believed. Finally, the importance of active supervision. The supervision plan, and KU's expectation that staff are never alone with the child is articulated. The child safe conversation at KU is ongoing and structures have been put in place to ensure child safe practices regularly revisited and reviewed, across the organisation. Child safe practice topics are included in compulsory quarterly staff meetings. Some topics have included for the KU child safe policy and attend national principles for child safe organisations, teaching children, children's rights, participation and empowerment children's voices. The child safe impact folder continues to grow with the ongoing development fact sheets and think abouts. The staggered release has enabled staff to take time to engage with these really important topics. Regular articles about child safe topics around KU's for that week. Are staff bulletin, as well as the quarterly, which is provided more in-depth focus on child safe topics such as the child's right to be heard. In addition, KU professional learning offers a range of child safer way trainings, including managing peer to peer sexualized behaviour, and a matter of children's rights, perspective and practice. All the principles are important, but I'm briefly going to share an example of child safety practice at KU for national principle to children's participation and empowerment. As I've said we've found many of the practices at KU, already supported the national principles and our focus was how to make a good practice even better. Children's participation and empowerment has been a focus for KU and the sector for many years. ECA released supporting children's rights, a statement of intent in 2015. And this document, the ECA and the national children's commissioner identified key areas for actions, and it is a guide that early childhood professionals to support children's rights in day to day practice. Megan Mitchell the national Children's Commissioner from 2013 to 2020, they even addressed the KU staff this year, revisiting key children's rights messages. Professor Pauline Harris, the chair of early childhood research, University of South Australia, then inspired staff with her presentation - children's rights, within child safe practices. The child's safe project team, then developed resources to support educators, to work with children, to initiate children's voices and children's rights projects. As well as developing thought provoking think-abouts, to help educators to reflect on how their incidental interactions with children, are opportunities to put in practice a child's rights based approach to empower children, to be confident learners, capable decision-makers, and able to influence what happens in their world. A social narrative was also created called,’ I have a right too’. Which is used to initiate conversations with children about their rights. KU views teaching children personal safety skills as fundamental to the empowerment of children. In 2018, KU partnered with the Office of the Children's Guardian when they launched a personal safety program. The safe series. We have embraced this program which has been developed for children under school age. One of child's safe goals, is for all KU children to have the skills to recognize an unsafe situation, the confidence to take action, and to understand the undies rule before starting big school. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the range of great child safe resources, which have supported KU's child safe journey. The planning phase of the KU child safe project, predated the wonderful resources which have become available through the OCG in the last six months. KU utilized a range of resources, including the Victorian commission for children and young people and the child sex section of the Australian Human Rights Commission, which was the forerunner to the national office for child safety. National office for child safety has developed Commonwealth child safe framework, including the implementation and self-assessment check checklist. A similar resource is now available from the OCG in relation to the New South Wales child safe standards. This excellent resource provides guidance information about each standard, identifying why the standard is important, what organisations should be doing, how to reflect on what the organisation is doing, and how to recognize when you're meeting a standard. We're really excited about these wonderful resources, both trainings and guides, which have become, and continue to become available through the New South Wales Office of the Children's Guardian. And KU is making use of these great resources, in our ongoing child safe journey. Thank you for the opportunity to share part of the KU child safe journey today.

- Thanks very much, Debbie. There are an amazing range of resources already out there. And Debbie's last slide summarized some of those. And in relation to the safe series that Debbie just mentioned, the OCG has got free webinars on those series coming up in May. So please do visit the OCG website for those. But we will send out a reminder about those resources that are available as well. Okay, our next and final speaker is Glenda Buckley. Who I'm sure many of you do know. Glenda is the Director of Statewide Operations Network in my team. And Glenda's role... All our teams have authorized officers who you will be very familiar with. Who come and visit you, and undertake assessment and rating and compliance visits as well. Glenda we'll be discussing our learnings as a regulator, from real cases that we have been involved in with regard to allegations of child sexual abuse, some of which have been very prominent in the media and some of which have not been. So over to you, Glenda. Thanks very much.

- Thanks Sharon. I would like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land that I'm meeting on today. The Dharawal people, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. And thanks for the introduction, Sharon. So as Sharon said, I'm going to be talking today about my experiences over the last... Just over two years I've been in this role. About what's common to the cases of child sexual abuse that we have seen and investigated during this time. Next slide, please. Okay, when something goes wrong. Unfortunately, over the past couple of years we have seen too many cases of child sexual abuse in services. These are some of the common quotes and sentiments from services when something goes wrong. These perspectives do represent only discussions with service providers, not with families or victims. I think Debbie did an amazing job of sharing her story with us in that respect earlier today. I encourage you to have a read through these as I go through some further information. So the loss of trust is a huge issue for services to manage, when something goes wrong. All members of staff can feel really foolish and start to question their trust in each other. There's often confusion about reporting, educators noting that they didn't know who to report to, that they were scared for their job, that they potentially were intimidated by others, or that they felt they needed a higher level of proof to report. So encouraging all staff to report, even when things don't quite feel right, allows services to clarify the expected behaviours at a minimum, and in worst cases, can lead to the identification of significant issues. Large providers or services often also report an inability to be in multiple locations to prevent issues from occurring. This is I guess, where the concept of delegated operational authority becomes important. So ensuring that all staff, in your organisation understand these is critical. You'll see a quote in there where a service, not recognizing that there was a risk, the comment about, you know this is not happening to good services, or an exceeding services is really concerning, because not recognizing the risks, is one of the things that will make your service vulnerable. Having some really clear guidelines about interactions with families, both inside and outside the service, and processes to declare these, is also important. So friendships can have a tendency to blur our judgment. Next slide, please. I'm just gonna go through now, some of the lessons learned and preventative measures I guess, that we certainly have heard from services who have experienced this, and some of the changes that they've made. It's not a definitive list, but these are some things that we've heard from our experiences. And it was interesting to me this morning to listen to Robert Fitzgerald, and a lot of the lessons actually echoing some of the thoughts that he shared with you. So the first one is really around advertising and recruitment of staff. So ensuring that jobs are advertised in reputable locations, particularly sites targeting ECE educators, can support qualified and experienced candidates to apply for your roles. It's also important what is advertised. I would suggest always noting that your organisation is child safe in your advertising, and ensuring that the wording of your advertising demonstrates a really child centric culture. When it comes to screening, some trends to look out for may include candidates who have frequently moved between services. So multiple changes and employers after periods of say less than 12 months, might be a cause for concern. And looking for applicants who demonstrate a strong commitment to child safety throughout their application. Interview processes can be one of the best ways, of obtaining uncensored information about your candidate. Asking questions that provide an opportunity for candidates to give examples about where they have spoken up, or reported in the workplace, provides a really useful insight. Additionally, using scenarios, seeking candidates to respond to potential child protection situations can be useful. The interview is the best chance you will get to understand the culture and the ethos of the candidate. So don't be afraid to ask challenging questions. A child protection focus in your interview questions will provide an indication of culture, and actually may help to discourage the wrong candidates to become part of your business. Reference checking is another safety net. Make sure you ask pointed questions of referees relating to child protection. Clearly asking if the person has ever been a subject of any child protection concerns or allegations. Do multiple checks on former organisations if at all possible. You could even ask candidates to supply additional referee information to support your recruitment as a child safe organisation. Of course verified working with children and police checks are important. Make sure if the candidate has worked in other jurisdictions, that you also undertake this process with other states and territories. I understand the OCG are currently developing a resource to support recruitment and selection, which will be made available or maybe is available on their website shortly. Next slide please. Okay, now that you have employed an amazing candidate, the induction process is the next thing you need to get right. Ensuring that all induction includes a strong focus on child protection and sends a clear and strong message to all new staff, that your organisation takes child safety seriously. Of course, it's not enough to talk about these issues at induction. Child safety needs to be built into ongoing training and also become part of ongoing discussions and emphasis at your service, as Robert indicated earlier. Next slide, please. Creating the right culture. Robert highlighted this again this morning, and Peter Drucker, once said culture eats strategy for breakfast. Nowhere is this more critical than when it comes to child protection. Some of the things you can do as an organisation to create the right culture might include, reducing shame and fear of reporting, creating an understanding amongst all of your staff that if you don't report, you actually reduce the opportunity to increase safety for children, having open and regular discussions at all levels of the organisation, creating a culture of shout out, and shout up. Where reporting is not only encouraged, but it's expected. Recognizing grooming behaviour, and having really frank and fearless discussions about this, including grooming of staff and families. Organisation wide understanding of protective disclosures. So making sure that your staff understand, that if they're making a disclosure or making a report they are actually protected from reprisal under the national law. And I've got here embrace over reporting. So maybe that's not quite the right term after what Robert pointed out earlier. I guess what I'm saying is embrace raising your concerns. Not  this is not a report and forget. This is about raising concerns, having conversations, and being able to take action. Next slide please. A fairly obvious one in terms of preventative measures is the physical layout and supervision. Now, obviously this can make a really big difference to reducing any opportunity for unsafe interactions. Obviously, if you're building a new purpose-built service there are lots of opportunities to get this right. In the planning, thinking about supervision, locations. However, even in existing services, there are things you can do, and things that I've seen services do to really increase visibility and line of sight. So things like, looking at your fencing and hedges. Having windows or cut-outs, or removing doors into some of your rooms. Thinking about the style and location of your furnishings and do they create obstructions for viewing of what's happening at all different times of the day. Looking at CCTV is an option as we've spoken about earlier today. And particularly having really good supervision plans, and maps, including defined areas of coverage to cater for during a range of activities, throughout your day, or throughout your programming. Next slide please. Clear policy and practice, obviously really important, but it's not enough to have good policies. You must ensure the practices are in place, and embedded. You need to walk the walk every day. This means regular discussions with staff about practice including the why. I would suggest, you know policy and practices is best when it's visible, it's usable and simple, and it's reviewed regularly. Really important to have something that defines what's acceptable in terms of interaction with children, and what's expected behaviours and having discussions about that. And also the other thing that Robert mentioned earlier was about engaging how educators engage with families inside and outside the service, and declaring those relationships. Next slide, please. And finally, ensuring that there are accessible complaint and reporting mechanisms. So asking yourself, do staff at your service know how to make a complaint or raise a concern? Do they understand that they will be protected in that? Do you have the right decision-making tools to support you to manage a risk if something is raised? Do you have clear processes to ensure that there's independent and objective investigation of any complaints? And are you confident that you're meeting your mandatory reporting requirements? And also, the other thing to think about is how do you support staff, who may be a person who is subject of an allegation. That's really important as well. And asking families, do they know who to talk to? Are they provided with a range of complaint mechanisms, who to talk to internally? Do they understand our role as a regulatory authority and how to make external complaints to us? They’re just a few insights from our experiences over the last couple of years. And hopefully these learnings will give you some things to think about, and act upon in your service. Thanks for your time today.

- Thanks Glenda. There were some really clear learnings presented by Glenda there. Some of which did reiterate the comments that Robert made at the beginning, and also the parent Debbie who spoke. I mean, one of the things she said that really stuck in my mind was that, by empowering staff to protect children, we are disempowering perpetrators. So the two go together. The more that staff in your organisation feel comfortable to speak up and to raise concerns, even when it's just a feeling. That they need to have a mechanism to be able to have a conversation about that, and then for action to be taken as needed. That is one really strong clear thing that you can do to deter perpetrators, who may be in your organisation, unknown to you. We now have got about 15 minutes or so for questions. And I think there have been a couple on the screen. So I'm just having a quick look. There's a question here for Debbie. Is the child safe code of conduct in addition to your staff and parent codes of conduct.

- It is a really good question because it is something that we did have to spend time actually thinking about; how does this sit best, and where does it sit best? Once the Office of the Children's Guardian, and released this really truly wonderful guide to codes of conduct, to developing a child safe code of conduct, There's a really clear format in there, which actually has a statement of commitment of I will, and I will not. And then this is supported by annexures that really clearly show examples of behaviours. So there's behaviours that will help keep children safe that are encouraged. And then there are behaviours that are concerning. So they may be concerning taking into consideration, you know, other aspects of the behaviour at work, or the interactions with children. And then there's clearly totally unacceptable interactions. So it's a very, very clear document, and it is quite comprehensive. So of course we already had a code of conduct, and we also needed to have an NDIS code of conduct. So in the end, what has been resolved is that we have three parts to our code of conduct. The general part, the child's safe code of conduct, and the NDIS code of conduct.

- Thanks, Debbie. There's a question here about OCG resources and you will find those on the OCG website. And we can send out a link after this as well. There's a good question here. Could we please get some examples of grooming behaviours. Glenda, do you wanna share a couple of examples from our experience?

- This is a bit of a tricky one. And the reason it's tricky is because grooming behaviours can sometimes be behaviours that are not grooming behaviours. And so the Office of Children's Guardian has been a very good resource on their website, that actually described some of this. And it's included in some of their training. But things like, I guess some of the things that we've seen is, you know educators that are supremely amazing at getting other educators and parents and families, to think that they are lovely. So overly friendly, very helpful. Although those behaviours can again not necessarily mean grooming. So obviously things like sharing secrets with children, giving a special presents to children, those kinds of things. I feel like I'm not really the expert in this, but these are the kinds of examples that we've seen. But the OCG certainly has some resources on that for people to refer to.

- Yeah. So I was going to say it is quite difficult. But just when we look with hindsight at some of the matters that we've been involved with as a regulator, those are some of the things we've seen that Glenda said. Another one is just where perpetrators do their very best to establish personal relationships with families by offering to babysit for them. And this is where the policies are so important in your organisations, about what is not acceptable in terms of outside relationships with families. We know that in small communities that can be challenging but this is something that your organisation needs to think very carefully about. Okay, some other…. I'm just gonna go to one that was asked earlier this morning which is about the issue of children sitting on laps. This, again, it is a difficult one and I might just get Glenda to talk to this one a little bit. To put it in a framework of practice.

- Okay, so people will understand that the regulations don't go to that level of detail in terms of children sitting on laps. And so it is up to every individual service to determine and be very clear about what's appropriate, and what's inappropriate. And in some cases a child sitting on an educator's lap could be quite acceptable. It could be it, you know, an educator is comforting a child. But then there are also circumstances that we've certainly seen where, you know we've had children sitting on laps, for extended periods of time. Children trying to get off laps. And so it's a really, really tricky area to define. I think one of the things that you need to think about is what are the different... If you have a child sitting facing you on your lap, is that okay? Should children be able to get off your lap at any time? And so allowing children the freedom to come and go and just being really clear and having those conversations in services. I mean, I don't have a clear definitive answer for what's acceptable or not, but it's certainly one of the things that you need to talk about.

- And I think Glenda, the point is that there's no one thing that will solve the issue of child safety. An organisation needs to have an interim framework that starts at the top, that sets the culture at the top. Considers all of the things that we've spoken about, like staff recruitment, and training and induction. Creates a safe environment for staff to speak out about things that they may be worried about. And many other things besides. And so in that context, children sitting on laps needs to be considered in all of that. So there is no black and white for many of these things. It is about organisations using their judgment. Robert made that very clear as well. Like she said, it is about judgment and good judgment. And it is about culture as well. Okay, let me see what other questions are here. There's been a fair few comments and questions in the chat this morning. And this one here now just about the intersections with DCJ, unfortunately our Q and A was a bit short this morning. It is correct to say that DCJ will not be able to attend to all matters that are reported to them, because of their threshold, and because of the number of reports they get. But when we talk about reporting, there's quite a few different things to consider. The first one of course is internal conversations. So I think it's best not to call that reporting, although some organisations may have formal internal reporting structures. But it is about having a conversation with your line manager or someone else in your organisation, that you feel comfortable having a conversation with about matters. Then of course there is the consideration of mandatory reporting and that should be done as well. And there is a notification to us as the regulator. And then there is of course the reportable conduct scheme. So there are different avenues that need to be taken and all of those together form a safeguard around protecting children. So again, some of these avenues do require your judgment. So when you make that decision to discuss it with someone internally. When you make a decision to notify. When you work out, do I need to use the mandatory reporter guide? And where does it take me? And to go through that process. All of those things do require a degree of judgment. And good judgment does require a good culture in the organisation, and also effective training. So your professional development for staff is really important. Glenda, do you wanna add anything to that or Debbie, from your organisation's perspective.

- That was a really comprehensive summary. And I guess the thing is that we're all talking about is we're really talking about preventing harm to children. And really setting up so that everyone is informed. But there is a risk, and we all have that duty of care to be keeping children safe. And there are all these strategies as an early childhood organisation, we can put in place to help keep children safe.

- Thank you, Debbie. And Glenda, anything to add to that?

- No, I think you've covered it, thank you.

- Okay. There's a question here about peer to peer sexualized behaviours, and how to manage this, and whether there's a resource. There's actually a project being led by New South Wales Health at the moment which is about this exactly. There was a workforce survey, I think it was earlier this year, to inform a learning and development package for the sector. So we are waiting to hear from New South Wales Health about the next step, so that we will touch base with them and send something out when we send out resources following this seminar. There's a question here about an ECE. Will they be an ECE child protection refresher course available? We'll take that one on notice. I think that it's a really good suggestion, and a very good question. There's a question here. This is why do the regulations allow one person to open and close a centre?. Glenda do you have any insights on that?

- I mean, I think Sharon this is something that we have had quite a lot of discussion about. I mean, we talk about services with single educator models and the potential risk in those. We'll also talk about family daycare, and the risk in that type of service model as well. And I noticed that there was a question that came up about that. I mean, as people are aware, the regulations don't prescribe that it's not okay to have a single educator with children at any one time. And so there is in terms of us as the regulator enforcing that, is absolutely... You know that's a decision for organisations. I know that Debbie was saying in KU, they have a policy where no educator is alone with the child. Personally I think that's a very good policy and practice to have. I know that it's not always practical, for all services, but certainly something to think about.

- Thanks, Glenda. There's a question here for Debbie. Did you use the Victoria action guide to support your review of child safe practices initially?

- We did use self-assessment tools and the Victorian guide was based around they had the seven standards back then. It was a little bit different, so we were using the national principles. So we tended to move into the Australian Human Rights Commission, their initial guide of self-assessment that they used. Bit all of those tools, I think are really helpful because they've got really practical examples of what you can do, and how to recognize when you've got a good practice in place. So there is a range of self-assessment tools out there that are really worth seeking. And in fact, the Office of the Children’s Guardian child safe standards has that very layout practicing that. So if you're in New South Wales and you're adopting the standards, you know that would be a really good tool to be using.

- Thank you. And Debbie, if I can ask you, there's a question here and I think it might be useful to see how KU would respond to this. If a child disclosed any abuse, to a staff member how would you respond within KU? What would be the process that you would follow?

- So, you know, children's disclosures are really critical. We want the educators to hear them, so it's really important that they understand that there's no textbook disclosure. And it is very often the children will tell you something and then take it back. It can take you a little while to understand what's going on. We very much speak to staff at KU about the importance of emotionally supporting a child during a disclosure to be available to listen to the child, to have that connection and to reassure the child that they've done the right thing in actually talking to you about what is happening to them. So there's reassurance, it's just very caring, nurturing. We then ask the staff maybe to actually write down the disclosure in the child's words, so that once the process is activated, we have a really accurate record of what the child actually said. But we're very clear that it is not the role of the educator to investigate what the child says. We don't need to establish any of that. That will actually be done by DCJ, our role is to emotionally support and take action on behalf of the child. So once that disclosure is made, they inform the director of the service, the coordinator of the service. If they're not there, it will be the responsible person that is there. And then contact is made with the child safe and wellbeing team. So we take calls all day in relation to concerns that are arising about children's safety. So that could be safety about the child in their home or child at the service. And we do respond to both of those with a different process. But the really important thing we teach our educators is that it's absolutely critical that you do take action. We want to hear no matter how low level that concern is, because we want to be able to help people with their practice. We want to be very clear about what our KU expectations are. So there's reporting to the child safe and wellbeing, we do go through the mandatory reporter's guide tool. I kept talking about, we have it on our screen in child safety wellbeing at the service hazard at their end, and we do discuss it as we go. So we have a look at the definition of questions. I'm trying to get a really good understanding about what's going on. Now, some of those will go to a reportable threshold and they will be notified to the child protection help line or it might be an e-report. That way to refer the family to a service, or we need to monitor the situation, document our concerns. And then we need to think about what services could be supporting that family. So we will use family and connect support, or some services have a really good network within their own region with our already known good family support services that may be able to support a family. But, you know, we work in terms of what is best for this family. Sometimes it is actually that we do need to do a report to child protection, but it says other times how can we as an organisation support the child, support the family, with making sure everyone's safe.

- Thank you, Debbie. That was a very comprehensive answer. We have come to the end of time. I know that we haven't managed to get to all the questions but we will go through them. I just want to really briefly say there is a question here about how can DOE, how can the department support educators to get the tools and knowledge to report organisations that they're working in, when they  are scared that they will be without a job? I do want to emphasize that any educator or any staff member of an organisation can pick up the phone to us to our information and enquiries line anonymously, and report concerns. If they are worried about their job and we will do our best to investigate. Obviously it is difficult sometimes to investigate things when they're anonymous, but we will do our best to follow up on those discreetly, if people are worried. So please make sure you use our information and enquiries line. So we have come to the end of time. I thank you all so much for giving so much time to this morning, and for your very strong interest, and really insightful questions as well. And you know, this will be the first of many engagements that we do with the sector on the child safe standards, and on all of these issues that have been raised this morning. So thank you very much. And thank you, Debbie and Glenda for being on the panel.

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