Image source: Christian Venues Association
The Royal Commission last week spent a lot of time on the failures of the “working with children” checks concerning Steven Larkins during his time with the Hunter Aboriginal Children’s Services organisation. It did not touch on the issue with regards to his other employers, namely the Education department, the Lutheran Church and the Catholic Church.
In a July 2013 report by the NSW Children’s Guardian, 700 religious organisations were surveyed concerning these checks, which have been compulsory for the past 15 years. Almost half of these organisations had not registered for the checks. Given that only 700 of the 4,000 such organisations were surveyed, the problem of non-compliance with the law is probably extreme.
The report stated that “appropriate governance arrangements were either not in place or given little attention.” It attributed the reason for this to “a lack of resources as well as an expectation or perception that someone else did it.” This is not a reason, it is an excuse. The Children’s Guardian has not said what steps have been taken to ensure compliance now.
Critically, it was found that religious organisations, especially the Baptist and Catholic Churches, were the main offenders, so it is even more unusual that the enquiry’s attention, in the first week, was exclusively on non-religious organisations concerning the “working with children” checks.
Many will be watching with interest to see if the commissioners touch on the religious organisations during next week’s proceedings.
[Postscript: Recently, the Chief Commissioner, Peter Mc.Clellan, addressed a Dart Centre conference for journalists, on “Responsible reporting of the Royal Commission”. His statements are not known, as a condition of attendance was that his speech was not to be “filmed, recorded or reported”. ]
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TOMORROW: Week two begins
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)