FURTHER state government measures to protect children from sexual abuse are a good starting point, according to former school teacher Ann Ryan.
But Mrs Ryan said while legislation was a good safety net, a wider community approach that involves talking and listening to children was the best method of prevention.
“You can have as much legislation as you want, but everybody needs to take a more active role in speaking to each other and listening to children,” Mrs Ryan said.
“We need to be more connected as a community. We all need to talk more and take more responsibility.”
She said there was mandatory reporting in the 1980s, but often the children weren’t listened to or believed.
“With everything that has come out over the past few years reporting has improved greatly,” Mrs Ryan said.
“But everybody in the community needs to be more connected and everybody needs to be playing their role.”
Some of the extra government measures announced this week include:
* introducing minimum child safe standards for organisations that have direct and regular contact with children;
* requiring ministers of religion to hold a current working with children check if they have any contact with children;
* allowing the Commission for Children and Young People to scrutinise organisations’ responses to allegations of abuse and systems for keeping children safe;
* mandating that all Victorian schools implement a policy for responding to allegations of child abuse.
Mrs Ryan said Premier Denis Napthine was on the right path with the extra measures and hoped the state government inquiry and royal commission would be a vehicle for victims to come forward and speak freely.