Wednesday 14 September 2022
Today’s report by the Victorian Ombudsman has exposed the Andrews Labor Government’s failure to protect Victorian children.
The weakness of Victoria’s Working With Children Check (WWCC) processes meant that a person was granted a WWCC clearance despite evidence he was:
- investigated by interstate police as a ‘person of interest’ in relation to several serious offences, including an alleged rape and the alleged sexual exploitation of a child
- flagged by interstate child protection authorities as a person suspected of sexually abusing a child
- subject to multiple Apprehended Violence Orders, including an order restricting his interactions with a young person deemed at risk of sexual exploitation.
Frighteningly, the Ombudsman found that “this information, on its own, would not have provided grounds to refuse Alexander Jones a Working With Children clearance, had it been disclosed to WWCC Victoria”.
The WWCC allowed this person to be employed as a youth worker and he subsequently raped a vulnerable young person he met through his employment.
Shadow Attorney-General, Michael O’Brien, said after eight years of the Andrews Labor Government, Victoria has the weakest Working With Children safeguards in the nation.
“The Ombudsman has exposed that Labor’s poor legislation has created loopholes that only benefits pedophiles and those who would exploit children.”
“Tragically, this is not a hypothetical situation. Labor’s loopholes have led to children being abused by people with Working With Children clearances who should never have been allowed near children.”
“A Liberals and Nationals Government will urgently amend the Worker Screening Act to implement the Ombudsman’s recommendations and give Victoria’s children the protection they deserve.”
Shadow Minister for Child Protection, Matthew Bach, said children have been put in grave danger as a result of Labor’s inaction.
“The Andrews Labor Government has repeatedly ignored calls to fix failing systems that were supposed to keep vulnerable children safe. Only a Liberals and Nationals Government will act.”