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Sport and Recreation - Working with Vulnerable People

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 9 September 2021

Tags: Women, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, at last year's Estimates hearings which were in November, we had extensive conversations about how Sport and Recreation responded to the Griffin matter and processes and procedures that changed in order to try to better protect children from predators. Have there been any changes in the department's policies and practices to the greatest extent possible to mitigate the risk to children? I take on board what Mr Pervan said before about the complexities here because you can't control every sport and rec club in Tasmania. What internal change has this unit at the agency undergone in response to the Griffin matter?

Ms HOWLETT - I'll let the secretary speak on that in a moment. But in February 2021 the Tasmanian Government strengthened the Working with Vulnerable People requirements by making it mandatory for all organisations to register employees and volunteers working with their organisation within 10 working days. This will ensure that all relevant organisations will be notified if an employee or a volunteer's Working with Vulnerable People card is suspended or cancelled.

To be eligible for funding under the Community Sport and Recreation State Grants program, state sports and recreation organisations must have current and operable policies on member protection, working with children, complying with the registration to work with vulnerable people at 2013 and inclusion. Secretary, would you like to add to that?

Mr PERVAN - Certainly, minister, thank you. Responsibility for ensuring clubs and associations comply with the requirements under the Registration to Work with Vulnerable People Act sits with the relevant state or national sport and recreational organisations.

Clubs and associations are issued with regular reminders to collect data and ensure all relevant staff and volunteers have current cards. In 2021 22, to register as an approved activity provider under the Ticket-to-Play program, organisations are required to have appropriate processes in place to ensure compliance with the Registration to Work with Vulnerable Act 2013 and to complete a child safety survey.

I can add more to that but your question was 'what have we done to strengthen and improve? They're basically the key actions. Everything follows from them. The survey findings inform community sport and recreation's ongoing work to improve child safe guarding across the sector and we continue to work with the community organisation sport and recreation clubs who aren't affiliated with relevant sport and recreation organisations to ensure their own compliance.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, secretary. The engagement with a wider cohort of sport and recreation organisations around their - and there's mandatory reporting requirements too - obligations under the Working with Vulnerable People Registration Act 2013, is that undertaken through the Department of Justice, which administers the registration process, or does sport and recreation have a role as well?

Mr PERVAN - Sport and recreation have a role as well. The deputy secretary can add a bit more there.

Ms KENT - The secretary and the minister have covered the overall work that we do. We thought what would be of interest is that most recently the member protection information officer workshops that we've been running that training is being undertaken now, as we speak. A number of those workshops have run in the south, the north, the north west and back in the south again earlier this week.

There are over 69 sports from across those regions attending them all. I think that's the key training piece of work. There are guidelines and other information that's available for people but having that hands on training workshops has been really important to help them understand their responsibilities. That's been really effective in people understanding this environment that they're working in.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Ms Kent.

Minister, have any matters arisen since we spoke at the Estimates table last year? Have any issues been raised with sport and recreation in relation to children and young people who are undertaking sport and recreation activities in clubs that have been funded or have a grant deed with government?

Ms HOWLETT - Are you talking about serious offences?

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, that's right serious offences: inappropriate behaviour towards children, grooming, the sort of things that came up through the Griffin matter, as nauseating as it is to discuss.

Mr PERVAN - I'm not aware of any but I will pass to Kate and Helen who have more direct access with the clubs and the codes.

Ms LANGENBERG - There was one issue, not as serious, thankfully, as the Griffin case that was flagged with us by a parent of a team member, which was followed up with the club concerned and also with the association concerned. They were already aware of the situation, which wasn't grooming but it was practices that coaches shouldn't involve themselves in, maintaining social media contact with a group of children without having adults involved in that same contact.

That's as much about protecting the coach as it is about protecting the children. We were really relieved in following it up that the club was already well aware of the situation, had already sought advice from the national body, had already spoken to the coach concerned and followed up on the issue.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Ms Langenberg, I'm very relieved to hear that the system, at some level, is working for children. Are you able to provide any information on whether or not there were any ramifications for that coach in terms of their Registration to Work with Vulnerable People?

Ms LANGENBERG - To my knowledge, the behaviour itself was not sufficient to warrant any withdrawal of the working with vulnerable people card or registration. It was really that he shouldn't have entered into that social media account. It wasn't the content itself. It wasn't offensive; it wasn't inappropriate. It was just that it was setting a dangerous trend that coaches in the more structured sports are well advised about how to protect themselves and also about how to maintain appropriate relationships with young people who fall under their care.