Life savers’ child check


The Sunday Times - - News - JOSH ZIM­MER­MAN

EV­ERY vol­un­teer surf life saver and pro­fes­sional life­guard in the State will be re­quired to un­dergo a work­ing with chil­dren check un­der a new Surf Life Sav­ing WA pol­icy.

The sweep­ing di­rec­tive, en­dorsed by the SLSWA board this month, ap­plies even to those whose roles do not bring them into reg­u­lar con­tact with kids.

It comes two months af­ter Cottes­loe Surf Club was fined $10,000 af­ter plead­ing guilty to em­ploy­ing Trevor Guy May­bank in child-re­lated em­ploy­ment while be­ing aware he had a neg­a­tive no­tice placed against his name un­der WA’s Work­ing with Chil­dren Act.

A spokes­woman said the di­rec­tive came in re­sponse to re­cent find­ings from the Royal Com­mis­sion into In­sti­tu­tional Re­sponse to Child Sex­ual Abuse as well as “learn­ings from the Cottes­loe Surf Life Sav­ing Club pros­e­cu­tion”.

“As a re­sult of clarifications with re­spect to child-re­lated work, and a re-cat­e­gori­sa­tion of mem­ber­ship un­der SLSWA’s up­dated mem­ber screen­ing pol­icy, all gen­eral du­ties vol­un­teer mem­bers (who are aged 18 and over) and all paid em­ploy­ees of af­fil­i­ated clubs and SLSWA, will re­quire a work­ing with chil­dren check,” a SLSWA spokes­woman said.

Pre­vi­ously, only those en­gaged di­rectly in child-re­lated vol­un­teer or paid work were re­quired to ob­tain work­ing with chil­dren checks.

The spokes­woman said SLSWA was ex­am­in­ing whether par­ents su­per­vis­ing their own chil­dren would con­tinue to be ex­empt from the work­ing with chil­dren check re­quire­ment.

“Due to the unique na­ture of surf life­sav­ing, and the wide va­ri­ety of vol­un­teer du­ties (for ex­am­ple from pa­trolling to of­fi­ci­at­ing to ed­u­ca­tion to wa­ter safety) in which a gen­eral du­ties vol­un­teer mem­ber could be tasked to un­der­take at any time, it has been de­ter­mined that it is a vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble task for a club to en­sure that a par­ent vol­un­teer does not un­der­take any du­ties which sit out­side of their child’s in­volve­ment with the club and which would be con­sid­ered child-re­lated work,” she said.

“We are how­ever con­tin­u­ing to work with the de­part­ment over the scope of this ex­emp­tion.”

In 2015, Mr May­bank, a former teacher and Cottes­loe life mem­ber, was charged with three counts of in­de­cent deal­ing with a child un­der 14 in re­la­tion to alleged in­ci­dents in­volv­ing a nine-year-old boy in 1979.

The charge was dis­con­tin­ued the next year but a neg­a­tive no­tice re­mained on Mr May­bank’s record that should have barred him from in­ter­act­ing with chil­dren at the club.

In­stead, Mr May­bank was per­mit­ted to con­tinue in a vol­un­teer ca­pac­ity, in­clud­ing set­ting up and pack­ing away events in Fe­bru­ary and March 2017 at which time the club was aware of the neg­a­tive no­tice.

Cottes­loe Surf Club pres­i­dent Mike Franz said the pro­tec­tion of chil­dren was a pri­or­ity.

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