Scouts Australia opt in to National Redress Scheme
Many of you will have heard news of an announcement today pertaining to a number of organisations opting into the proposed National Redress Scheme including Scouts Australia. Scouts Victoria as one of the eight Branches, has agreed “in principle” to opting into the scheme which was the announcement made today during a press conference with the Minister for Social Services, The Catholic Church and the YMCA. We look forward to viewing the final legislation when it is approved.
When we, Scouts Victoria, become aware of a survivor of abuse we have made it our practice to always issue a personal written apology to the survivor signed by the Chairman of the BEC and Chief Commissioner. We also offer to meet with the survivor to provide an apology face to face should they wish to do so. We are committed to ensuring that all survivors of child sexual abuse have access to the Redress Scheme and that their experience of this process is restorative, and responds to the complexity of their needs.
Scouts Australia believes that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been an important step in making our community safer for children. It has also provided Australia with the necessary framework to recognise the impact these horrific crimes have had on too many young people.
We are humbled by all those individuals who have shown the courage and commitment, appearing before the Royal Commission to share their stories. They have played an important role in making Australia a safer place for children in the future.
Our priority will continue to be on ensuring the well-being of all children and young adults. Scouts Australia has a zero-tolerance for abuse of any kind. Our policy and practice is to immediately report any allegations of child abuse directly to the police and to immediately remove membership pending the outcome of the Police investigation.
We applaud the Federal and State Government for their leadership on this matter, and for the highly consultative manner in which the scheme has been developed. Having sat with victims and listened to their heartbreaking stories, I understand how important it is for all of us to work together to maintain Scouting as a Child Safe Organisation where young people are safe from harm.
Scouting is committed to implementing the findings of the Royal Commission. We are also committed to ensuring that victims are heard, supported and compensated. In the mean time we will continue to deliver high quality, fun programs and implement Child Safe Scouting so that we continue to be considered by the community as safe for children and a best-practice Child Safe organisation.
Yours in Scouting,
Brendan J Watson OAM Chief Commissioner Scouts Victoria