New “Youth Council” Takes on Legislators
Wednesday, 7th August 2002 at 1:08 pm
A new national children’s organisation has taken on the Victorian Government as one of its first battles and appears to have already had a victory.
The Australian Council for Children & Youth Organisations had called on the Victorian Government to legislate for a “Working With Children Check” to cover staff and volunteers who work with children and young people in Victoria.
The Council has been established with the support of leading Victorian philanthropic trusts and foundations including The Besen Family Foundation, The Myer Foundation, The Pratt Foundation, the Jack & Robert Smorgon Families Foundation and the R.E. Ross Trust.
The Council raised the need for legislation with the Victorian Government and Victorian Attorney General Rob Hulls has responded flagging his government’s intention to introduce what he describes as tough legislation to prohibit convicted sex offenders from having direct unsupervised employment access to children.
The Attorney General says introducing a scheme for expanded comprehensive criminal history checks for people working with children will ensure that children are equally protected across all sectors.
The Council’s CEO, Anton Hermann says its aim is to develop a partnership with Government, peak bodies and the wider community to ensure greater protection for our children and young people.
Hermann says Victoria’s children and young people are entitled to the same legislative protections that already exist in New South Wales and Queensland.
He says the absence of a legislated “Working With Children Check” in Victoria represents a major gap in Victoria’s child protection framework.
Victoria Police data indicates that over 20% of multiple sex offenders gain access to their victims through community organisations including welfare organisations, church groups and youth groups.
He says similar risks were identified in NSW and Queensland and resulted in legislation to check job applicants for criminal history and other relevant matters.
Hermann suggests that this function could either be undertaken by the Victoria Police or by a newly created Commissioner for Children and Young People.
The council has produced a Policy Paper on its views. If you would like a copy just send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.