Update 1 – Premier of Tasmania
Not waiting to act: Safeguarding our children
Critical steps to strengthen child safety in our hospitals and health settings have been taken as the Tasmanian Government implements the recommendations from the Child Safe Governance Review.
92 recommendations were made as part of the independent review into the Launceston General Hospital and Human Resources – all of which the Tasmanian Government committed to implementing.
Following the Report, immediate action was taken to begin implementing the recommendations and strong progress has already been made not only at the LGH, but statewide and across the entire Department of Health, particularly in the areas of structural changes of the executive to reset culture, leadership accountability, as well as the introduction of child safety training and frameworks for reporting child safety concerns.
A new Chief Executive of Hospitals North has been created with Jennifer Duncan assuming the role following a merit-based selection and is directly responsible for child safeguarding at the LGH and all health service locations within Hospitals North.
A statewide Child Safety and Wellbeing Service has been established and will support child safety in Tasmania’s major hospitals. As part of this, work is underway to recruit full-time Child Safeguarding Officers which will be located on-site at each major hospital. Child Safety and Wellbeing Service staff working in the LGH now have a direct line of reporting to the Chief Executive of Hospitals North and direct engagement has already commenced.
All Department of Health staff have now been advised that they are to undertake mandatory child safeguarding training by the end of June 2023. There has been a strong uptake with more than 4,300 staff already having completed the training.
In addition, three online training sessions have been provided on recognising the signs of harm and a module for reporting child safeguarding concerns has been made live for all Department of Health staff. A simple flowchart to assist staff in the reporting of child safety concerns is also now readily available to all staff statewide.
The LGH executive and senior leadership team have approved a three-year cultural change and accountability framework program and that is currently being implemented.
Finally, a Child Safety and Wellbeing staff survey is currently open and being promoted across the Department, which will help the Department to understand its staff’s knowledge on child safeguarding.
Premier and Minister for Health Jeremy Rockliff said the Government was not waiting on the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry to act.
“There is nothing more important than safeguarding children and young people, and we are committed to progressing critical changes to improve child safety in our Health service, including reforms to governance structures and culture to support it,” Premier Rockliff said.
“That is why we are taking these strong actions now to make fundamental changes to better safeguard children and young people, and I am looking forward to continued progress on the implementation of these recommendations.”
Secretary of the Department of Health, Kathrine Morgan-Wicks, said the timely implementation of recommendations demonstrated the priority given to child safeguarding.
“I am committed to driving large-scale change throughout the entire Department to ensure the safeguarding of children and young people is placed at the centre of their care,’’ she said.
“I have urged all Department of Health staff to join with me to champion the safety and rights of children and young people in our care. We must take action on what we have heard through the Commission of Inquiry process to ensure children are safe and feel safe in our hospitals and health services.”
We anticipate findings and recommendations later this year from the Commission of Inquiry, which we have already announced our intention to implement in full.
Ongoing independent oversight of the implementation of the recommendations will be provided by the Co-Chairs of the Child Safe Governance Review’s Governance Advisory Panel, Debora Picone AO and Karen Crawshaw PSM.