The Royal Commission Releases A Discussion Paper (Or: Have A Say)

The Australian Royal Commission into child sexual abuse has released its first discussion paper. CEO Janette Dines says it seeks input into the issue of background checks for people working with, or volunteering for, children’s services. Submissions close on August 12th 2013. Submissions, both from inside and outside Australia, can be e-mailed to

Alternatively, submissions can be mailed to the Royal Commission at GPO Box 5283, Sydney NSW 2001, Australia. The telephone numbers are: Callers within Australia – 1800 099 340 (free call) and Callers from Outside Australia – 61 2 8815 2319. The Royal Commission phone service operates Monday to Friday (excluding national public holidays) between the hours of 8am and 8pm across all Australian time zones (UTC + 10 hours).

There is one aspect of the discussion paper which needs more attention. It appears to be concerned only with matters within Australia. Given the problem which may exist with Australians’ and Australian-based organisations’ involvement with children in other countries, perhaps there is a need to have processes for sharing details with overseas law enforcement bodies? Further, a clearance from Australian authorities should be required before Australians can volunteer to work with children in other countries.

The obvious case here is that of the so-called “orphanages” in countries like Cambodia and Vietnam (see previous postings).

Submissions to the Royal Commission are not limited to Australian-based organisations and individuals. Consequently, it would be a good thing if overseas organisations and individuals provided an input to this discussion paper. Otherwise, we simply risk the situation where Australia makes it so difficult for child abusers here that they get around the regulations by going to other countries. We don’t want to be in the business of exporting paedophiles.

The Commission has recently completed four weeks of hearings in private, in Sydney. Last week it began similar hearings in Brisbane, and these will continue for another three weeks. Submissions and enquiries can be e-mailed to the Commission at

The primary issue on which the Commission is seeking submissions is the need for nationally-consistent guidelines. Details of the discussion questions are:

1. Should there be a national working with children certificate (WWCC)?

2. What features should be included in any national scheme?

3. If there is no national scheme, should there be minimum requirements for each state and territory scheme?

4. How long should any clearance be granted for?

5. Should a person be able to commence work before the check is completed?

6. How should child-related work be defined?

7. How should child-related sectors and roles be defined?

8. Are current exemptions for a WWCC adequate or appropriate – in particular, should a WWCC apply to:

a. those living in the homes of children in out-of-home care?

b. parent volunteers?

9. What records should be included in the check? For example, should the check include juvenile records?

10. How should an appeal process operate?

11. What issues arise from the current regime of records that result in automatic barring of a person from working with children?

Read more here:

TOMORROW: Oversight or policy?

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)


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