Expert urges to be alert for paedophile behaviour

By Neelima Choahan
Updated November 2 2012 - 6:45am, first published October 12 2011 - 8:33pm
Bernadette McMenamin

TRUST your gut instincts and voice your fears if you think someone is behaving inappropriately towards a child, a leading child protection charity boss has said.Child Wise chief executive Bernadette McMenamin said organisations working with children were often the target of child sex abusers. Ms McMenamin was speaking at the annual general meeting of the Child and Family Services held on Wednesday in Ballarat. The Victorian finalist for Australian of the Year 2004 and the recipient of the Order of Australia in 2004 said there was enough evidence that children were vulnerable in child care organisations. “We have to develop a culture which offers minimum opportunities for child abuse,” Ms McMenamin said.“Have a work culture where you talk about really uncomfortable topics.”She said companies that worked with children could build a child safe environment through a host of measures.These include development and implementation of child protection policies, codes of conduct, child safe recruitment and selection practices, and managing complaints and concerns of abuse.Workers in child care organisations, Ms McMenamin said, should practice being aware and observant. She also urged them to speak up about any behaviour that made them uneasy.