Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has welcomed the announcement of a $127 million package to implement the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The package will strengthen measures to prevent child sexual abuse, ensure greater access to treatment and support services for children and adults impacted by child sexual abuse and toughen the criminal justice response to child offence matters.
“This package is an important component in ensuring the protection of some of our most vulnerable members of society,” Ms Cooke said.
“We need to ensure that children in environments where their safety is entrusted to others are protected and supported, where they can be allowed to grow without the risk of exposure to the most heinous of crimes.”
The $127 million package includes:
- $37.7 million for early intervention, child specialist therapeutic services and resources for the community;
- $14.8 million to expand sexual assault outreach for Aboriginal people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities;
- $14.3 million for an integrated specialist therapeutic service for adult survivors;
- $6.9 million for strengthened out-of-home care checks;
- $5.9 million for improved safety of children in juvenile detention;
- $4.1 million to expand Local Court capacity;
- $2.7 million for resources for NGO caseworkers to respond to children with complex needs and
- $2.1 million for a worker register to better protect children in intensive therapeutic care.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said children’s safety is paramount.
“We are committed to ensuring that children now and in the future can live free from harm and most importantly are adequately protected and supported by the institutions entrusted to care for them,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward said the investment will strengthen measures in the community to prevent child sexual abuse through stronger child safe standards within the government and non-government sectors.
“We are also ensuring that non-government organisations and government organisations are adequately resourced to respond better to complaints of child sexual abuse,” Ms Goward said.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said the Royal Commission had increased public awareness of child sexual abuse, which means Local Courts will require additional support to deliver timely justice.
“As a result of the Royal Commission there’s been an increase in the number of criminal justice matters before our courts and we expect that growth to continue,” Mr Speakman said.
Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said the Royal Commission recommended a public health approach focused on prevention, early intervention and treatment services to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children.
“We are investing more into specialist therapies and treatment for children at risk or who have harmed others. We are also improving access to specialist support for adult survivors of child sexual abuse,” Mr Hazzard said.
Ms Cooke added that the package continues the Government’s ongoing commitment to implement the recommendations from the Royal Commission.
“NSW was the first state to pass legislation for redress and to introduce extensive criminal law reforms, including maximum life sentences for persistent child sexual abuse and new offences for failure to report or protect against child abuse,” Ms Cooke said.
The NSW Government also passed the Civil Liability Amendment (Institutional Child Abuse) Bill, bringing an end to the legal loophole that prevented victims from suing institutions.