More than 100 requests to work with children denied

MORE than 100 employees and volunteers of Victorian religious organisations have been refused authorisation to work with children after convictions for serious offences including child pornography, drug offences and violent crimes.

Figures released to The Courier under Freedom of Information laws show 112 applicants engaged with religious organisations have been refused Working With Children authorisation since the introduction of protections in July 2007.

Victorian Department of Justice records show 28 applicants were refused under category 1 criteria, which precludes registered sex offenders, monitored sex offenders and those found guilty of child pornography offences.

A further 58 applications were refused under category 2, which includes drug possession and trafficking, exploitation and child trafficking.

Under category 3 criteria, 18 applications were refused for adverse findings by bodies including the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal under laws such as the Health Professions Register Act. 

A further eight individuals were refused authorisation due to exceptional circumstances. 

Individuals who engage in paid or voluntary child-related work in institutions including hospitals, schools, churches, welfare agencies and charities require authorisation. 

Figures provided to the Victorian inquiry into child sexual abuse by members of religious and non-government organisations show there have been about 81,000 Working With Children applications received from people engaged with religious organisations. 

Acting department secretary Claire Noone told the inquiry in October that 62 people received a negative notice at the time of application, while 51 received a negative notice through ongoing monitoring. 

The inquiry has heard evidence related to children in Catholic, Anglican, Jewish and Uniting Church organisations. 

University of Melbourne child protection expert Cathy Humphreys said the data showed organisations which worked with children remained a target for sex offenders. 

“It highlights the need for a wide range of mechanisms besides the Working With Children check, which need to be in place,” Professor Humphreys said.

thomas.mcilroy@fairfaxmdia.com.au

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