Dear Members of Scouts Australia,
I am taking this opportunity to speak with all members of the Scouting Community about the incredibly important matter of child safety and welfare.
Just a few days ago the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse submitted its first case study report – looking into systems and circumstances that were in place when Steven Larkins, who was a Scout leader during the 1990s, abused children. Even after Scouts had lodged a report with police, Larkins went on to work as the CEO of the Hunter Aboriginal Children’s Service and in 2012 he was found guilty of a number of charges in court.
In review of the Larkins case and in particular the child protection system that Scouting had in place during the 1990’s, the Royal Commission’s Report found that we did not have an adequate system in place. Scouts agree with the Report’s findings in this regard.
As noted in the Report, Scouts changed its procedures and by 2000 the Scouts’ Behaviour Management Procedure had altered to require the immediate suspension of an adult member who was the subject of serious allegations without investigating the matter beforehand.
Today, a specific step-by‐step process is used to respond to child abuse allegations. In cases of criminal abuse it includes a complete suspension of the accused adult member and immediate reporting to police and/or other relevant external child protection authorities. Scouts encourages an environment which fosters the immediate reporting of any abuse, and recognises that any delay in reporting can have an impact on everyone involved, especially the victims.
Scouts has zero tolerance for any form of child abuse. It does not conduct any type of investigation for allegations of criminal child abuse and hands any concerns directly to the police for full, professional investigation.