3 Apr 2018
Geelong Advertiser, Geelong VIC
by Monique Hore And James Dowling
RAPISTS, sex pests and gropers are being handed 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 child molesters and gropers were also approved.
The Department of Justice has appealed three of these cases.
A News Corp investigation has found hundreds of other applicants charged with or convicted of serious offences, including violent or drug crimes, were approved.
It also uncovered a worrying crack in the system where Victorian authorities are unable to screen for whether an applicant has been denied a check or had a professional licence revoked interstate.
It saw an osteopath's application approved without authorities knowing he had been stripped of his practising licence for 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" to learn sex offenders had approval to work or volunteer with children.
"If somebody goes out and deliberately commits a serious sexual offence, then there is a cost to that criminal," he said. "Part of that will be, bad luck, you are not teaching my child how to swim."
VCAT considers about 50 appeals a year from people the department has knocked back, including "category A" applicants who are automatically because they have been charged with or found guilty of murder, rape or child sex offences. In a number of cases, VCAT members deemed that applicants were not a risk to children and cited remorse, the risk of losing work and the time since a crime was committed in their decision to grant approvals.
But Mr Davies said: "For the victims, a rapist is a rapist forever."
Deb Tsorbaris, from the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, would not comment on individual cases but said child protection systems needed constant review.
Victoria made a raft of changes to strengthen Working with Children Check laws in August last year and boost the number of people who required one. The State Government is also working with the Commonwealth to create a centralised national database detailing disciplinary records from all jurisdictions.
Attorney-General Martin Pakula said the government's changes to the Working with Children Check laws last year made the screening system more robust.
"We want to do everything we can to keep children safe and we'll continue to look at ways to strengthen the Working with Children Check system," he said.
But Opposition families and children spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said there was a "serious flaw" in the system that the Coalition would fix if elected in November.
A link to this GEELONG ADVERTISER story is HERE
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