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YMCA NSW defends management and child protection policies

YMCA NSW defends management and child protection policies
January 22, 2014

YMCA New South Wales has defended its child protection credentials in the light of highly critical findings by a NSW Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Before Christmas, YMCA management had been fiercely criticised by counsel Gail Furness at hearings as part of a NSW Royal Commission into sex abuse.

The fitness of Chief Executive Phil Hare and YMCA General Manager of Children's Services Liam Whitley, to hold their positions was questioned by Furness, counsel for the Commission, in a 105-page submission based on evidence at a hearing in October into the association's response to revelations about childcare worker Jonathan Lord, who was convicted for sex offences against six children while he worked at YMCA before-and-after child care centres at Caringbah in southern Sydney.

Furness also recommended that another YMCA staff member be referred to the NSW Director of Public Prosecution for amending her evidence at a private commission hearing when the staff member said all Caringbah staff would have working with children checks before they started. Lord had started his employment before his check was completed, in line with requirements at that time.

Counsel representing the YMCA NSW, Ian Neil challenged Furness' findings but did acknowledge that Hare and Whitley accepted responsibility for the matter, acknowledging that junior staff did not have the training to allow them to deal with Lord and report his breaches.

At the time, the Y apparently also agreed to accept a Commission recommendation that it consider whether Hare and Whitley should hold positions overseeing the care and protection of children.

The YMCA NSW Board of Directors also began a culture review looking into policies and processes across the organisation and issued a statement that read "YMCA NSW acknowledges that the Royal Commission has identified failures in its policies and procedures as they relate to child protection, and in their implementation. YMCA NSW is committed to ensuring that its operations are, and continue to be, safe places for children.

"To this end, it is committed to learning from (this) incident, and to doing all that it can to keep children safe. YMCA NSW has already taken measures to improve its child protection policies and its procedures, and will continue to make improvements."

However, this week the ABC has reported that the YMCA has now responded to evidence, saying Lord was never reported to management and it is wrong to imply that managers failed to censure his misconduct.

The lawyer representing workers at the Caringbah centre has also released a response, saying they did not report Lord's behaviour because of the YMCA's failure to induct, train and supervise its staff.

Article amended 3.35pm 22nd January 2014. 

4th June 2013 - GOVERNMENT NEEDS ORGANISATIONS, SUCH AS THE YMCA, TO HELP IT REACH ITS GOALS

21st November 2012 - YMCA TO MANAGE UNSW AQUATIC AND FITNESS FACILITIES

14th August 2012 - YMCA SAYS AUSTRALIA TOPS WRONG LEADER BOARDS 

5th January 2012 - YMCA URGES AUSTRALIANS TO PUT HEALTH AND FAMILY FIRST

22nd December 2010 - NEW MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER FOR YMCA SYDNEY

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We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

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Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

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