National Centre urges Federal Government to accept Australian Human Rights Act recommendation

MEDIA RELEASE

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has released its Inquiry into Australia’s Human Rights Framework report, and there is one clear recommendation – the Federal Government need to introduce an Australian Human Rights Act.

Alongside 335 other submissions, the National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse (the National Centre) made a submission to the Inquiry on 30 June 2023. We supported the development of a National Human Rights Framework and the enactment of a federal Human Rights Act in Australia.

We argued that there is a need for a stronger human rights approach in Australia and one that has a child rights focus. The focus of our submission was to identify issues and gaps, highlight potential reform, ensure a child rights perspective and a targeted response, and give children voice and power.

The National Centre was referred to in the report, which stated: “The National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse argued that a sub-committee on children’s human rights should be established as part of the committee, saying that this could play an ongoing role in scrutinising federal legislation and preparing statements of compatibility focused on child rights, ensuring that the parliamentary scrutiny of legislation is appropriately informed by expertise on children’s human rights.”

CEO of the National Centre, Dr Leanne Beagley said on the report, “Australia is the only liberal democracy not to have a national Act or Charter of human rights protection and there is currently no overarching legal duty to consider the best interests of children in decision-making in Australian law. This means, the right to be free from sexual abuse is not available for all Australian children – this is a national shame and reform is long overdue.”

“We welcome the Committee’s report and look forward to continuing to support a national conversation on child rights.”

In particular, the National Centre supports the following recommendations:

  • Children and young people should be included in the participation process of the Human Rights Act. This includes Recommendation 4 to consult with children’s groups in relation to access to justice.
  • Further parliamentary scrutiny of human rights implications and associated funding must be resourced, including addressing child rights in statements of compatibility in line with Recommendation 1.
  • Recommendations 1, 11 and 17 seek to address monitoring progress, impact and action on human rights.
  • Continuing dialogue with NGOs in line with Recommendation 17.

We also acknowledge that disappointingly, the Committee did not:

  • Include all rights in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), in the HRA. Rather, the CRC will be an interpretive text underpinned by the principles of “best interest of the child” and “right to be heard”.
  • Expressly state it will take a child rights perspective, but rather made generalised assertions to human rights.
  • Refer to intersectionality, and therefore does not consider the compounding effects of discrimination.
  • Approve a trauma and healing informed approach, despite the CRC referring to wellbeing of children as important.

“Whilst we recognise that the Committee has referred to the wellbeing of children as being important, we know such statements and general commitments will not be enough to drive focus on the rights of children to be safe and heard, believed and healed. An approach that is explicitly trauma-responsive and healing focused is critical to addressing the child sexual abuse emergency in Australia.” Dr Leanne Beagley said.

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Child sexual abuse is a national health crisis that the National Centre is committed to addressing. Please join us in Reshaping the Conversation, a safe space for understanding, dialogue and collaboration in child sexual abuse response and prevention. Secure tickets now.

Understanding child sexual abuse

Supporting Victims and Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: Rapid Evidence Reviews
Ngagagee Ngulu Murrup Durra (‘The Ngagagee project’)
Preventing repeat child exploitation material offending: An international evaluation of the CEM-COPE Program
Conceptualising and Estimating the Costs of Child Sexual Exploitation (Phase One of Australian Study into Economic Costs of Child Sexual Exploitation)
An environmental scan of Child Sexual Abuse related workforce training offerings in Australia
Enhancing the capability of Australia’s Primary Health Workforce to respond to child sexual abuse
CHANGE – curtailing harm and navigating growth: evidence for change pathways of young people who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour
Amplifying the voices of victim-survivors: Advancing the harmful sexual behaviour evidence base – the Ava project
Reshaping the Conversation: Development of a shared language and preferred definitions guide endorsed by victims and survivors of child sexual abuse
Building a knowledge frame for responding to the needs of children and young people who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour
Children and Young People’s Safety Project
Child safe practices using contextual safeguarding strategies
The more I talk, the stronger I get: unlocking our past to free our future
Delivering trauma-informed support for child sexual abuse victims in Victoria: mapping the knowledge gaps and training needs of the specialist sectors
Online child sexual victimisation and associated mental health outcomes
Differentiating adverse childhood experience profiles of male youths who exhibit harmful sexual behaviours

Response to child sexual abuse

Supporting Victims and Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: Rapid Evidence Reviews
Ngagagee Ngulu Murrup Durra (‘The Ngagagee project’)
Preventing repeat child exploitation material offending: An international evaluation of the CEM-COPE Program
Evaluation of the Multi-Agency Investigation & Support Team
Conceptualising and Estimating the Costs of Child Sexual Exploitation (Phase One of Australian Study into Economic Costs of Child Sexual Exploitation)
Effect of multi-agency deliberation on perceptions of risk in responses to child abuse and neglect
The Australian child sexual abuse attitudes, knowledge and response study
CHANGE – curtailing harm and navigating growth: evidence for change pathways of young people who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour
Improving legal, policy and practice responses to the intersection of domestic violence perpetration and child sexual abuse offending
Into the war zone: disclosure and disbelief in the Family Court
Understanding the experiences of child sexual abuse disclosure in Australia in the wake of the Royal Commission
Building trauma-responsive sexual health and relationship education
Learning from victims and survivors about what helps disclosure and responses to child sexual abuse
Amplifying the voices of victim-survivors: Advancing the harmful sexual behaviour evidence base – the Ava project
The dignity by design project: survivor-led system redesign
Evaluating a harmful sexual behaviour education program in a residential care setting
Community as experts: investigating the context, needs and help-seeking pathways for child sexual abuse survivors and their supporters in the NSW Bega Valley
Developing and implementing a framework for abuse prevention through culture change and organisational development
Reshaping the Conversation: Development of a shared language and preferred definitions guide endorsed by victims and survivors of child sexual abuse
Building a knowledge frame for responding to the needs of children and young people who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour
Australian Child Maltreatment Study
Children and Young People’s Safety Project
Child safe practices using contextual safeguarding strategies
Enhancing the capacity of rural and regional respectful relationship educators
Strengthening relationships and connections for young people in therapeutic residential care
The safeguarding capability of adults in Catholic Church ministries: a global perspective
Creating safer futures: raising public awareness of child sexual abuse among young adults through digital storytelling
Survivor perspectives on institutional use of child sexual abuse material
The more I talk, the stronger I get: unlocking our past to free our future
Delivering trauma-informed support for child sexual abuse victims in Victoria: mapping the knowledge gaps and training needs of the specialist sectors
Online child sexual victimisation and associated mental health outcomes
Differentiating adverse childhood experience profiles of male youths who exhibit harmful sexual behaviours

Needs of victims and survivors

Supporting Victims and Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: Rapid Evidence Reviews
Ngagagee Ngulu Murrup Durra (‘The Ngagagee project’)
Evaluation of the Multi-Agency Investigation & Support Team
The Australian child sexual abuse attitudes, knowledge and response study
An environmental scan of Child Sexual Abuse related workforce training offerings in Australia
Enhancing the capability of Australia’s Primary Health Workforce to respond to child sexual abuse
Improving legal, policy and practice responses to the intersection of domestic violence perpetration and child sexual abuse offending
Into the war zone: disclosure and disbelief in the Family Court
Understanding the experiences of child sexual abuse disclosure in Australia in the wake of the Royal Commission
Building trauma-responsive sexual health and relationship education
Learning from victims and survivors about what helps disclosure and responses to child sexual abuse
Amplifying the voices of victim-survivors: Advancing the harmful sexual behaviour evidence base – the Ava project
The dignity by design project: survivor-led system redesign
Supporting continuous quality improvement in safeguarding at Hockey Australia and other national sporting organisations
Evaluating a harmful sexual behaviour education program in a residential care setting
Community as experts: investigating the context, needs and help-seeking pathways for child sexual abuse survivors and their supporters in the NSW Bega Valley
Enhancing the capacity of rural and regional respectful relationship educators
Creating safer futures: raising public awareness of child sexual abuse among young adults through digital storytelling
Survivor perspectives on institutional use of child sexual abuse material
The more I talk, the stronger I get: unlocking our past to free our future

Prevention of child sexual abuse

Ngagagee Ngulu Murrup Durra (‘The Ngagagee project’)
Preventing repeat child exploitation material offending: An international evaluation of the CEM-COPE Program
Conceptualising and Estimating the Costs of Child Sexual Exploitation (Phase One of Australian Study into Economic Costs of Child Sexual Exploitation)
The Australian child sexual abuse attitudes, knowledge and response study
An environmental scan of Child Sexual Abuse related workforce training offerings in Australia
CHANGE – curtailing harm and navigating growth: evidence for change pathways of young people who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour
Evaluating a harmful sexual behaviour education program in a residential care setting
Developing and implementing a framework for abuse prevention through culture change and organisational development
Building a knowledge frame for responding to the needs of children and young people who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour
Australian Child Maltreatment Study
Strengthening relationships and connections for young people in therapeutic residential care
Differentiating adverse childhood experience profiles of male youths who exhibit harmful sexual behaviours

Identification of child sexual abuse

The Australian child sexual abuse attitudes, knowledge and response study
An environmental scan of Child Sexual Abuse related workforce training offerings in Australia
Enhancing the capability of Australia’s Primary Health Workforce to respond to child sexual abuse
Supporting continuous quality improvement in safeguarding at Hockey Australia and other national sporting organisations
Evaluating a harmful sexual behaviour education program in a residential care setting
Developing and implementing a framework for abuse prevention through culture change and organisational development
Children and Young People’s Safety Project
The safeguarding capability of adults in Catholic Church ministries: a global perspective

Disclosure of child sexual abuse

Ngagagee Ngulu Murrup Durra (‘The Ngagagee project’)
The Australian child sexual abuse attitudes, knowledge and response study
An environmental scan of Child Sexual Abuse related workforce training offerings in Australia
Enhancing the capability of Australia’s Primary Health Workforce to respond to child sexual abuse
Improving legal, policy and practice responses to the intersection of domestic violence perpetration and child sexual abuse offending
Into the war zone: disclosure and disbelief in the Family Court
Understanding the experiences of child sexual abuse disclosure in Australia in the wake of the Royal Commission
Learning from victims and survivors about what helps disclosure and responses to child sexual abuse
Supporting continuous quality improvement in safeguarding at Hockey Australia and other national sporting organisations
Community as experts: investigating the context, needs and help-seeking pathways for child sexual abuse survivors and their supporters in the NSW Bega Valley