Scouts Australia supports their national government to fight child abuse
Scouts Australia has reinforced their commitment to fight child abuse and welcomed a recent decision by their Federal Government to establish a national Royal Commission into institutional responses to instances and allegations of child abuse in Australia. Scouts Australia has announced on their website that the National Scout Organization will assist the Australian national government’s Royal Commission in whatever way possible.
Scouts Australia has a zero tolerance for abuse of any kind and for decades has had a policy and practice to report all instances of potential child abuse to police. Like several of our National Scout Organizations, Scouts Australia has always made records and files freely available to the police and other child protection authorities.
At the global level, in over 105 years of its existence, World Scouting has always strived to ensure that children and young people have a safe passage throughout their time in the Movement, which respects their integrity and their right to develop in a non-constraining environment. Over the years, several policies, statements and resolutions have been made, to remind National Scout Organizations of the importance of child protection, and to keep up with the developments in this area, in a constantly changing society where new terminologies are created each day to strengthen emphasis on various aspects of an issue. Within months of adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), World Scouting passed a resolution in its Paris World Conference (1990), calling on its National Scout Organizations “to find creative means to familiarize their leaders with the articles” and “to play an active role in encouraging their Government to ratify the Convention and in promoting its dissemination among adults and children”. In 2002, the 36th World Scout Conference, the highest governing organ of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, held in Thessaloniki, Greece, adopted Resolution 7/02 ‘Keeping Scouts Safe From Harm’, which is since then World Scouting’s key policy statement on child protection.
In several countries the National Scout Organization has been a pioneer in this field and has many examples of contributing to improving policy and practice in other youth organizations, and in some cases pushing their governments to take action. Continuing in this spirit, Scouts Australia has expressed their full support to the new Royal Commission established by the national government. In addition, Scouts Australia has urged the Commission to include a review of sentencing laws for child abuse offenders across the country so that the penalties reflect the severity of the crime.
Scouts Australia has developed robust and vigilant child protection policies in all States and Territories of Australia, working with the full range of Child Protection Agencies in the country. There are mandatory police checks for all volunteer leaders and compulsory training to maximise child safety.
Recently, Scouts Canada has integrated World Scouting’s e-learning on ‘Keeping Scouts Safe From Harm’ for adult leaders, as a compulsory part of their Woodbadge training for adults in Scouts Canada. This training is now available online in English and French. The original e-learning created by World Scouting in 2011 also includes portions for management of policies, procedures and practices in National Scout Organizations, and a segment dedicated to strengthening youth programme aspects of child protection where children and young people are educated to find appropriate responses to prevent being in potential situations of abuse and ensure their own protection through prevention. This aspect of youth programme will be further developed in the coming years. World Scouting strongly believes that it is part of the core business of Scouting to make children aware of their rights and to empower them to a position where they are able to protect themselves and prevent chances of abuse as much as possible by them. This is part of the education on life skills that Scouting offers and complements World Scouting’s efforts to ensure that clear policies and procedures are in place for adult recruitment and training. The e-learning by World Scouting is seen as a living resource which will be improved and updated regularly.
Keeping Scouts Safe From Harm e-learning