Group monitors children’s checks

Zoe KeenanSouth Western Times
David Wayne Bell was convicted of working with children without a Working with Children’s Check, while he accessed child exploitation materials.
Camera IconDavid Wayne Bell was convicted of working with children without a Working with Children’s Check, while he accessed child exploitation materials. Credit: SWFL

The managing director of an organisation monitoring Working with Children’s Checks for volunteer organisations says the processes of compliance needs to be made easier for volunteers.

It comes after a South West Football League umpire, who accessed child exploitation materials while umpiring junior football matches, was found guilty of not having a check when he faced Bunbury Magistrates Court last month.

While the SWFL vowed to improve processes and put checks in place in the future, there was an uproar about tough compliance issues for volunteer organisations, such as the league and other sporting clubs.

Earlier this month Donnybrook Football Club president Peter Hearman said the “slip up” was no surprise considering the continuous burden of compliance issues.

He said compliance expectations on volunteers were so high that running sport was overbearing.

“We have burnout at a club level and volunteers drying up,” he said.

Petra Nelson, the managing director of Cited & Bright People Technologies – a company providing workplace compliance and verification – said compliance needed to be made easier for volunteers.

Recently the company has partnered with the Department of Communities to offer monitoring of Working with Children’s Check eligibility.

The company uses the department’s data base of existing registered cards and monitors their compliance, informing cardholders if their eligibility changes.

“From my perspective there was a gap in the monitoring of checks ... it prompted me to think what happens after the card is presented, who checks that people have them,” Ms Nelson said.

“The department advises organisations to register cards, but unfortunately the reality is this generally doesn’t occur.

“The responsibility lies with the leadership of organisations, for example club presidents in sport, but they’re volunteers. They’re doing their best but they need a system that’s easy.”

She said she found people typically tried to do the right thing by getting the checks but ongoing monitoring did not happen generally due to volunteers being too busy.

“Volunteers do an amazing job and I think anything we can do to make their lives easier and to improve community safety I’m happy to be part of.”

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