3 Apr 2018
Herald Sun, Melbourne
By Monique Hore and James Dowling
Sex criminals handed Working With Children permits RAPISTS, sex pests and gropers are being granted Working with Children Checks at alarming rates in Victoria.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, in a single year, gave the green light for three rapists to work with children. Five other gropers and child molesters also won approvals for permits.
The Department of Justice has decided to lodge appeals in three of these cases.
A Herald Sun investigation found hundreds of other applicants charged with or convicted of serious offences, including violent or drug crimes, were also approved. And it uncovered a worrying system flaw, which leaves authorities unable to check whether an applicant has been denied a check, or lost a professional licence, interstate.
The flaw resulted in an osteopath's application being approved by authorities who did not know he had been stripped of his licence after performing unnecessary internal procedures on three women in NSW.
Working with Children Checks have been given to:
Victims of Crime Commissioner Greg Davies said parents would be "horrified."
Mr Davies said:
"If somebody goes out and deliberately commits a serious sexual offence, then there is a cost to that criminal. Part of that will be: bad luck, you are not teaching my child how to swim."
In eight months, the Justice Department processed almost 300,000 applications. It granted permits to 1316 "category B" applicants, who must prove they are not a risk to children. These included those charged with or convicted of drug offences, causing serious injury, armed robbery and even sexual offences.
It also approved another 16,189 "category C" applicants, who must get a permit unless the department is satisfied they pose a risk to children. They included those who had been subject of adverse rulings by professional bodies, or with childhood convictions.
VCAT considers about 50 appeals a year from people the Justice Department has rejected, including "category A" applicants who are automatically denied because of charges or convictions for murder, rape or child sex crimes. In several cases, VCAT staff deemed applicants not to be a risk to children. They cited remorse, the risk of losing work and the amount of time since the crime occurred.
But Mr Davies said that "For the victims, a rapist is a rapist forever."
While not commenting on individual cases, Deb Tsorbaris, of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, said child protection systems should be constantly reviewed.
Attorney-General Martin Pakula said changes to Working with Children Check laws last August, to strengthen them and to increase the number of people who required a check, had made the screening system more robust. Victoria was also working with the Commonwealth to create a national database detailing disciplinary records.
But Opposition families and children spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said there was a "serious flaw" in the system.
A link to this HERALD SUN story is HERE
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