Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, recently reaffirmed his government’s commitment to the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse 2021-2030 (National Strategy).  

The implementation and continuation of the National Strategy has direct and indirect ongoing implication for Australian businesses – even those that do not directly deal with children.

What is the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse 2021-2030? 

The National Strategy was developed by the Australian Commonwealth, together with State and Territory governments, in consultation with a range of non-government stakeholders including victims and survivors, to address key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission). While the Royal Commission focused on institutions, the National Strategy targets child sexual abuse in all settings, including in the family and online. The National Strategy is separated into three National Action Plans governing 2021-2024, 2025-2027 and 2028-2030.

The 2021-2024 portion of National Strategy in place focuses on five themes. These are:

  • Awareness raising, education and building child safe cultures
  • Supporting and empowering victims and survivors
  • Enhancing national approaches to children with harmful sexual behaviours
  • Offender prevention and intervention
  • Improving the evidence base

The National Strategy relies on organisations such as schools, sporting organisations, hospitals, disability support services and community health services to deliver the services, education and awareness raising programs in the community. However, it also directly and indirectly affects Australian businesses that do not deal directly with children.

The measures in place which may impact Australian businesses include:



Implement and promote the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

To keep implementing and promoting the National Principles, the National Strategy group will work with state and territory governments and organisations to:

build organisational and community awareness about child safety and wellbeing

improve the capacity of organisations to keep children and young people safe.

Set up an ongoing national annual reporting framework for non-government organisations to report on their progress to create and maintain child safe cultures

A national reporting framework will mean that a range of non-government organisations can report on their progress to create and maintain child safe cultures.

Enhance national arrangements for sharing child safety and wellbeing information

Over the 10 years of the National Strategy, governments will enhance how they share child safety and wellbeing information across jurisdictions and sectors.

Business may want to consider the development of databases for the storage of child safety and wellbeing information and updating privacy policies.

Support the provision of resources for teachers, children and young people’s education in areas focused on wellbeing, relationships, and safety, including online safety

Support will include nationally consistent advice for all teachers and principals on how to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse.

It will also include resources that encourage the use of best practice educative ways to support student wellbeing. Support for children and young people will include providing resources on respectful relationships and online safety.

Increase workforce capability for preventing and responding to children with harmful sexual behaviours

This will include developing standards and benchmarks to increase workforce capability. It will support a multidisciplinary response.

From an employment relations perspective, it would be prudent for businesses working with children to carefully screen prospective employees in accordance with the standards and benchmarks, in addition to providing clinical supervision, implementing staff retention procedures and creating a focus on culturally safe practices and systems.

Progress legislative reforms to the Uniform Evidence Law. Explore operational reforms for securing digital evidence

This may also include looking at reforms to improve national approaches to capture and secure digital evidence.

Online Businesses 

With the Australian Federal Police having received more than 21,000 reports of online child abuse materials from July 2019 to June 2020, it is unsurprising that the National Strategy seek to implement measures in the digital space.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner now hold powers to remove illegal content including child sexual exploitation material, no matter where in the world it is hosted under regulatory guidance.

Under updates to Australia’s Online Content Scheme, online service providers who fail to comply with eSafety Removal Notices to take down illegal content that is accessible to Australians face financial penalties of up to AUD111,000 per offence for individuals and AUD555,000 for corporations. Those services may also have their content de-linked from search engines and their apps removed from app stores if they fail to comply.

Where to from here? 

Online businesses are now required to take proactive steps to prioritise the safety of their platforms insofar as it pertains to child usage and child sexual exploitation material or abuse.

While businesses operating in Australia have implemented or are considering internal changes in accordance with the Royal Commission recommendations and National Strategy measures, consideration might also be placed in partnering with the Australian Government and not-for-profit organisations such as the National Centre, to achieve the ambitious goals laid out in the National Strategy.  

UK businesses 

Businesses in the United Kingdom may wish to consider and implement the Royal Commission recommendations and National Strategy measures. While these measures are not presently mandated in the United Kingdom, it provides best practice guidance approach for policies, procedures and strategies for businesses that work directly and indirectly with children.