This is the fourth annual report on the Victorian Government’s progress in implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission). This report represents the government’s continued work to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse. The government is striving to prevent another child from being let down by the system and taking action to prevent past harms being repeated. It is also committed to ensuring victim survivors are prioritised, supported and treated with the dignity they deserve.

The Victorian Government welcomed the release of the Royal Commission’s Final Report in December 2017. The Victorian Government response to all of the recommendations of the Royal Commission was published on 11 July 2018. The government’s:

This report describes the actions the Victorian Government has taken to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse from December 2020 to December 2021. It also describes work that is in progress and planned to build on these reforms. This year’s report highlights some of the positive outcomes from the government’s implementation of recommendations so far, including through case studies and data.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created significant challenges for everyone in the community. The Victorian Government has redirected resources to respond to the critical priorities, such as keeping all Victorians safe and healthy.

Despite these challenges, the Victorian Government has implemented several key reforms in 2021. For example, the government introduced both legislative and policy reforms to expand the powers of the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority to regulate school boarding premises to ensure they are compliant with Victoria’s Child Safe Standards.

Additionally, Victoria was the first Australian jurisdiction to make ‘extended care’ available to all young people leaving care. The Victorian Government’s landmark Home Stretch program supports a young person to remain living with their carer or to transition to independent living arrangements up to age 21. This support was previously only offered up to the age of 18.

The Victorian Government also allocated ongoing funding of $9.9 million over four years in the 2021-22 Victorian State Budget to the Intermediary Program, which began as a pilot on 1 July 2018. The program provides supports for all children and young people, as well as adults with cognitive impairment, who are giving evidence in sexual offence and homicide court matters.

The Victorian Government is modernising the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, including enshrining all five elements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle. This work goes towards implementing the Wungurilwil Gapgapduir: Aboriginal Children and Families Agreement and Strategic Action Plan, a landmark partnership between the Aboriginal community, the Victorian Government and community services organisations to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people in care.

As highlighted in previous annual reports, the Victorian Government continues to lead reforms to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse. This includes implementing all 15 recommendations of the landmark Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government Organisations, Betrayal of Trust (2013). A key recommendation of Betrayal of Trust was the introduction of minimum standards for child safety in relevant organisations, resulting in the development and implementation of Victoria’s Child Safe Standards (Standards).

The Royal Commission’s recommendations continue to play a pivotal role in shaping Victorian reforms to better protect children from abuse. For example, in light of Royal Commission recommendations, the Victorian Government reviewed its Standards and has recently published 11 new Standards. These new Standards closely align with the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations, which reflect the Royal Commission’s recommended child safe standards, while also retaining a focus on Aboriginal cultural safety and child empowerment – an important feature of the Standards.

Work also continues to progress between the Victorian Government and the Australian and state and territory governments, to advance joint recommendations that require national action. Further information about the cooperative work between governments that is underway is available in the Australian Government's Annual Progress Report 2021.

In keeping with the Royal Commission’s recommendation, the Victorian Government will publish annual reports on its progress in implementing recommendations of the Royal Commission until 2022.