A new strategy to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse has been finalised four years after a royal commission recommended it.
The federal government has committed $307.5 million to jointly deliver the strategy with state and territory governments in the next four years, with the initiatives then extending until 2030.
The strategy is the first of its kind in Australia, and prime minister Scott Morrison hailed its release as a “watershed” moment on Wednesday.
“We made a promise to do everything possible to end these abhorrent crimes,” Morrison said.
“While the royal commission was focused on child sexual abuse in institutions, the national strategy targets child sexual abuse in all settings, including in the family and online.”
The development and implementation of such a strategy were recommended by the royal commission into institutional responses to child abuse in 2017.
The strategy includes two plans: one inclusive of state and territory governments and one detailing the federal government responsibilities.
The federal plan aims to identify offenders at national borders, fund the Australian Federal Police to target online child sexual abuse, help at-risk children access legal aid, and work with neighbouring Indo-Pacific and south east Asian countries.
The national plan includes boosting awareness through campaigns, a nationally consistent approach to identifying victims and offenders, and a study to monitor changes in child maltreatment over time.
A trial will deliver through the National Indigenous Agency trauma-aware and culturally appropriate resources to frontline health workers, and experts will create a new program to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child sexual abuse survivors and families.
“We know from the royal commission … that experiences of racism and discrimination, and a lack of cultural safety, are key barriers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims and survivors disclosing abuse and seeking support,” Indigenous Australians minister Ken Wyatt said.
“‘This is why the specific needs of Indigenous Australians, including connections to culture, country and language, have been a key part of the development of this national strategy.”
The National Office for Child Safety, also a recommendation of the Royal Commision, has overseen the strategy.
Alongside it, the Australian Human Rights Commission launched a child-friendly guide to help young people understand sexual abuse.
The guide is based on consultations with children who had parent and guardian consent in three South Australian primary schools.
“For too long, children have lacked a seat at the table in policy-making and I am heartened by seeing their voices come to life in this guide,” commissioner Anne Hollonds said.
“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.”
The strategy’s finalisation follows the federal government last week naming a consortium that would deliver its National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse by the end of 2021.
It is due to have a monitoring and evaluation framework to track progress against short, medium and long-term outcomes over the plan’s 10-year life.