Keeping your child safe from abuse

The findings of the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse were released recently, and are truly shocking, with 1 in 14 Australian Catholic priests who worked between 1950 and 2010 among 75 Catholic Church bodies surveyed by the Commission alleged to be perpetrators of child sexual abuse. Last year Sydney dance teacher Grant Davies, was sentenced to 24 years in jail for multiple child sex offences against nine victims over several years.
Public hearings have in recent years investigated allegations of abuse within sporting bodies including Tennis Australia, Tennis NSW, Football NSW, the NSW Institute of Sport and others, and examined the Child Protection policies of organisations including Cricket Australia, Netball Australia, Little Athletics, Surf Lifesaving Australia, the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Olympic and Paralympic Committees in a bid to stamp out the potential for abuse to occur in sporting clubs and communities in the future.
This can be a huge cause of anxiety for parents – just as we can’t drown proof our children, we also can’t abuse proof our children – so how do we ensure the safest possible environment for our kids to pursue their activities and interests?
Most clubs and associations now have strict child protection measures in place, so familiarise yourself with their policies, and make sure you are comfortable with the protection measures in place. At both of our swim centres, all of our employees are required to obtain a Working With Children Check, which involves a National Police Check (criminal history record check) and a review of reportable workplace misconduct. The check is valid for five years, however, it will be continuously monitored for any new relevant offences or workplace records to ensure that the check remains current.
We have gender appropriate change room policies, and zero tolerance on recording devices or mobile phones in change rooms. We advertise that no parent is allowed to take photos of any children other than their own, and that under no circumstances may a picture of another child be uploaded to social media without express permission by the parent, and that to do so may be a violation of state and federal laws.
For competitive swimming, Swimming Australia launched a new ‘Safe Sport’ framework for codes of conduct, complaint handling and child protection on July 29th 2016, which Swimming NSW and the other states have adopted and are in the process of rolling out to Swimming Clubs in NSW to keep all children safer. The framework includes providing a safe environment for everyone involved in the sport of swimming, and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Children or Young People in particular.