The Commonwealth Child Safe Framework (the Framework) aims to protect children and young people from the risk of harm or abuse. The Framework sets minimum standards for Commonwealth entities to create and maintain behaviours and practices that are safe for children.
Under Requirement 4 of the Framework, Commonwealth entities are required to publish an annual statement of compliance with the Framework including an overview of the entity’s child safety risk assessment.
Our commitment to the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children in relation to the work that we undertake and interaction with our staff, in line with the Framework. We are committed to promoting and maintaining a culture that does not permit or tolerate child abuse, exploitation or neglect, and provides a safe environment for children.
Our interaction with children as part of our work
The OAIC is an independent statutory agency in the Attorney-General’s portfolio, established under the Australian Information Commissioner Act 2010. Our purpose is to promote and uphold privacy and information access rights.
The OAIC’s regulatory activities include:
- conducting investigations
- handling complaints
- reviewing decisions made under the FOI Act
- monitoring agency administration
- providing advice to the public, organisations and Australian Government agencies.
In undertaking the agency’s regulatory work, OAIC staff have minimal direct interaction with children.
The OAIC develops and implements policies and guidance aimed at protecting the privacy, safety and information access rights of children and young people. In 2023, the OAIC surveyed over 1,900 Australian adults to build a picture around privacy attitudes and experiences in Australia as part of our Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey 2023. The results showed that children’s privacy was a major concern for 79% of Australian parents, with 50% saying they felt they were in control of their children’s privacy, and 18% did not.
The OAIC issues guidance material, for example Protect kids’ privacy online, aimed to assist both children and adults in raising awareness about the protection of children’s privacy and useful tips to support this protection, especially in the online environment.
Annual Risk Assessment
In accordance with the requirements of the Framework, an annual risk assessment was conducted to evaluate the potential risk of harm to children as part of the OAIC undertaking its regulatory activities. With consideration of the following:
- the OAIC’s activities and functions rarely involve direct contact with children
- most engagements, if they were to occur, would generally be through an adult representative
- the OAIC holds minimal personal information of children
the overall risk to child safety and wellbeing is assessed as low.
Notwithstanding this, the OAIC has the following measures in place to enhance the protection of children during any interactions with OAIC staff:
- all OAIC staff must obtain and maintain a minimum baseline security clearance
- all OAIC staff are required to adhere to the OAIC’s policies, procedures and the APS Code of Conduct
- the OAIC requires all staff to undertake a pre-employment suitability assessment and provide a satisfactory National Police Check prior to employment
- consultation with bodies representing the interests of children and young people to help inform policy proposals and developments, and the drafting of guidance material relating to the safety, wellbeing, and rights of children.
The OAIC intends to embed child safe initiatives into our culture and work practices. Assessment of future regulatory activities anticipates a potential increase in engagement with children and their representatives in relation to the development of new privacy initiatives, such as the proposed Children’s Online Privacy Code outlined in the Privacy Act Review Final Report.
In particular, the OAIC intends to:
- review and develop policies to support child safe practices in all aspects of the OAIC’s operations
- continue to raise awareness for OAIC staff about the requirements of the Framework and the OAIC’s child safe culture and practices
- continue to embed the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations
- assess which staff may in the future be involved in child related activities and arrange the necessary training and Working with Children Checks to be undertaken.