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Sexual abuse of children and vulnerable young people in amateur sporting clubs at the hands of volunteers, parents and paid coordinators, is still occurring today.

What we have seen to come out of the Gymnastics Australia inquiry is that the processes and checks in place were not consistent across all clubs, across the local, state and federal levels. Processes to ensure the wrong people are not getting access to children need to be examined more closely and better regulated within children’s local community sporting clubs.

We are investigating sexual abuse claims within amateur sporting clubs around Australia, following children being subjected to sexual abuse and predatory behaviour. It’s a sad fact that children can be at risk of abuse by simply participating in physical activities within their local sporting club. We have seen it across multiple codes – from junior cricket, swimming, taekwondo, to surf lifesaving, soccer and football.

These clubs have a duty of care to ensure the individuals entrusted with caring for children and young people are appropriately vetted and screened before they have access to children.

Currently, each state and territory requires working with children checks to work with children but these processes differ depending on the location. In the past, clubs have simply not done enough in their power to protect minors from harm. Sadly, abuse is still continuing today, and we are failing our children by letting this happen.

We know it takes survivors an average of 22 years to disclose abuse, so even when it does happen today, more likely than not that it will not come out for some time. Sexual abuse has really come to the forefront in the last decade or so, it’s spoken about more, including the devastating impact it can have on people’s lives. Children should be encouraged to come forward and speak to a trusted adult about what they are going through.

If you are being abused, tell a trusted adult in your life or report it to Victoria Police or NSW police. Support is available for abuse and sexual assault survivors below:

Headspace: 1800 650 890; https://headspace.org.au/

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800; https://kidshelpline.com.au/

Blue Knot Foundation: 1300 657 380; https://www.blueknot.org.au/

Bravehearts: 1800 272 831; https://bravehearts.org.au/

Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault: 1800 806 292; https://casa.org.au/

NSW Child & Adolescent Sexual Assault Counsellors: (02) 9601 3790; www.casac.org.au

The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.

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Blog posts by Jane McCullough

Abuse Law
Sexual abuse of children in amateur sporting clubs under investigation

Sexual abuse of children and vulnerable young people in amateur sporting clubs at the hands of volunteers, parents and paid coordinators, is still occurring today. What we have seen to come out of the Gymnastics Australia inquiry is that the processes and checks in place were not consistent across all clubs, across the local, state and federal levels. Processes to ensure the wrong people are not getting access to children need to be examined more closely and better regulated within children’s local community sporting clubs. We are investigating sexual abuse claims within amateur sporting clubs around Australia, following children being subjected to sexual abuse and predatory behaviour.

Empty sporting oval
Abuse Law
Loophole closed allowing survivors of abuse a second chance

The Victorian government recently closed another legal loophole confronting survivors of childhood institutional abuse. Survivors who accepted compensation from an institution relating to child abuse between July 2015 and July 2018 can apply to have that settlement set aside, if it is “just and reasonable” to do so, like all other survivors. This follows legislation passed in 2018 and 2019 which made it easier for abuse survivors to pursue their rights against organisations and institutions historically harbouring paedophiles. In the past, institutions used strategies such as time limitations and the Ellis defence to defeat and minimise claims by victims. The Ellis defence relied on...

Compensation Law
Revisiting unfair decisions for abuse survivors

It’s been one year since the doors were opened for child abuse survivors to have a second chance at receiving the financial support and justice they deserve. The Children Legislation Amendment Act 2019 was announced on 14 June, allowing courts to set aside unjust judgements or settlements. The Catholic Church’s Melbourne Response and Towards Healing schemes imposed caps on compensation in years gone by, often giving abuse survivors no choice but to accept totally inadequate settlements considering the horrors experienced in their childhoods. Settlements often required the survivor to sign a deed of release and confidentiality clause preventing them from speaking out or taking further...

Child in hallway