More red tape to rule junior sport

August 12, 2017

JUNIOR sporting clubs around the district could be under the pump with new changes to Victorian working with children laws.

Many clubs already require working with children checks (WWCC) for volunteers and coaches; however as of August 1 changes regarding childcare services and sporting clubs made monitoring those checks a whole lot harder.

By law, organisations such as childcare services and sporting clubs must make sure that workers doing child-related work have an up-to-date check.

Before the changes, anyone undertaking supervised contact with children didn’t require a working with children check.

However, recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has removed the element of supervision meaning more volunteers may be required to have a check.

It also expanded the definition of ‘‘direct contact’’ to include oral, written or electronic communication as well as face-to-face and physical contact.

Echuca Junior Football Club (EJFC) president David Bruns said the recent changes could lead to less people willing to help out.

‘‘At the end of the day, kids have to be safe,’’ he said.

‘‘As a parent myself, it’s important to know who is coming into contact with my children.

‘‘I can see the new rules affecting some clubs as people might not be as willing to put up their hands, but luckily at Echuca we have enough parents wanting to volunteer.’’

EJFC oversees 12 junior sporting teams and even before the changes every coach, assistant coach, runner, team manager, first aid officer and parent undertaking duties or umpiring more than three times a year had to have a valid check.

‘‘There’s a fairly significant amount of work that’s involved for coaches and secretaries in making sure everyone involved at the club has a WWCC,’’ Bruns said.

‘‘With so many teams to cover as well as Auskick it’s up to individual coaches to oversee every parent involved has a check.

‘‘Once they’ve already coached or volunteered at the club it’s easy to update their check through our system each year.

‘‘It’s mostly those new to a role which it has the most effect on.

‘‘Eventually we’ll get to a point where everyone requires a WWCC — it’s just the way the world is headed.’’

Already there are seven child safety standards under the Victorian Child Safety Standards which sporting clubs must comply with — and the latest WWC rules were in addition to these standards.

WWCC could easily be applied for at any authorised Australia Post outlet and renewed every three years either online or by lodging another form.

Echuca Basketball Association president Felicity Hutton said similar guidelines had already existed for some time for all coaches, assistant coaches and team managers under Basketball Victoria Country requirements.

‘‘We’ve been implementing these standards across our domestic competition and Pirates program for a long time,’’ Hutton said.

‘‘It’s now become a part of our culture.

‘‘I think the law changes were more about making people aware of their rights regarding mandatory reporting for people they suspect to not have a WWCC.’’

Hutton said EBA made sure to keep records of each volunteers WWCC and it was the first thing they asked of coaches and managers who came to the club.

‘‘Even some of the 16 and 17-year-olds who coach get a WWCC off their own bat to ensure they’re covered,’’ she said.

‘‘Most parents who help in schools require one now so it’s nothing new.

‘‘It’s more uncommon for people without kids to not have one.’’

More information on WWCC changes and Victorian Child Safety Standards can be found at

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