The Australian federal government unveiled the new national strategy for combating child sexual abuse on October 27th. The announcement came on the anniversary of the national apology to victims of institutional child sex abuse following the results of the Royal Commission.
The first stage of the strategy, as outlined in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s media release, involves two simultaneous four-year action plans. The first is to be a national action plan, to be coordinated by federal and state governments. The second is a commonwealth action plan, to be enacted by national agencies.
Morrison acknowledged the Commission’s horrific findings and mentioned the initial measures that have since been introduced, such as “the National Redress Scheme, National Office for Child Safety, Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, and the world’s first eSafety Commissioner.”
Morrison went on, “We must stop the abuse, and we must better support those who have been abused and we are contributing an initial $307.5 million commitment to implement the National Strategy.”
Among other initiatives, the action plans will provide millions of dollars to set up agencies to address sexual abuse in Indigenous populations and online communities, and fund a second iteration of the world-leading Australian Child Maltreatment Study.
National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollands has commended the involvement of children in the strategy’s development. “Going forward, I want to see this happen more because clearly we need to listen to children and young people when developing policies and support services that affect their lives.”
Children were consulted in the formulation of the strategy, offering suggestions in developing the guide. But Australian of the Year Grace Tame was not involved in these discussions.
Tame is one of Australia’s most well-known advocates for survivors of sexual assault. Morrison’s assistant minister Bob Morton defended the government, maintaining he had several informal meetings with Tame.
Tame said she was ‘blindsided’ by the announcement of the strategy. She announced on Monday she would be attending the meeting of Attorneys General to discuss the centralisation of sexual assault legislation.
Current sexual assault legislation is spread across eight jurisdictions, each of which has its own legal definition and corresponding punishments.
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