What the YMCA Didn’t Do (Or: What Went Wrong, This Time?)


The second “case study” by the Royal Commission will cover Jonathan Lord, a YMCA childcare worker (see yesterday’s posting). The focus will be on the checks made by that organization on Lord’s suitability for the position, and police responses to complaints.

The main issue is whether or not referees were contacted. Initially, the NSW head of the YMCA, Phillip Hare, repeatedly said that such checks were not routinely conducted. Later, he retracted that, saying that he had not been fully aware of what was, in fact, done. He now claims that in all cases, including that of Lord, these checks were made.

However, Hare, and other YMCA officials, say that overseas checks are not made, giving the excuse that it is either too difficult, or that applicants may not provide information on their over-seas employers. This is why the fact that Lord was dismissed from his position of Camp Counselor in the U.S. was not known.

Parents of the victims are known to be upset over the conflicting accounts of the YMCA’s practices.

When “clarifying” his earlier statements about the YMCA not checking Australian references, Mr. Hare said that “There are many policies in the YMCA and my level of knowledge of all those policies is not complete. My view is to tell the truth all the time. I was unsure. I was unsure.”

The father of Lord’s main target noted that, if the YMCA had looked fully into Lord’s employment record, it might have been more alert to warning signs he was grooming boys. “It’s like any criminal,” said the man who is considering civil action against the organisation. “He can be a drug dealer and sell drugs for 20 years before you get caught.”

Hours after Lord’s court appearance, a letter was sent to about 600 YMCA parents that included the information that Lord’s Australian referees were contacted. It was issued by Mr Hare who was on leave at the time.

“They’re just covering their own bases, aren’t they?” another father of a young victim said.

The YMCA has declined to explain the backflip and why it wasn’t suspicious about Lord’s U.S. employment, about which he gave scant information and had no referees.

So, the next “case study” will be like the first. Emphasis will be placed on processes, especially about reference checks with, most likely, no other YMCA offenders being mentioned. C’est la vie.

Read more here:

TOMORROW: Where are we now, friends

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)


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