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Big Buddy on the Glenn Inquiry People's Blueprint

Big Buddy on the Glenn Inquiry People's Blueprint

November 28, 2014

The inclusion of robust screening as a tool to prevent child abuse, highlighted in the Glenn Inquiry’s People’s Blueprint, is welcomed by Big Buddy CEO Richard Aston.

“It’s heartening to see this high-calibre report come out in support of more rigorous vetting for people who care for children,” says Richard Aston. “As the report says, ‘Children’s safety and protection should be at the heart of everything we do’.”

He says the Government didn’t go far enough when it introduced tougher vetting measures in the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 in June. “Don’t get me wrong, the Act is a great start, but the vetting standards are vague and in danger of getting watered down. If you talk about vetting, you have to talk about the quality and depth of it – my suspicion is that it could be vetting in name only.”

“We need to be talking about the rigorous vetting of all adults working with or responsible for children across all sectors including sport, community and religious organisations and that conversation needs to start now."

The Glenn Inquiry highlights the vetting process developed by Big Buddy since 2003 to ensure the hundreds of volunteer male mentors they match with fatherless boys are safe. It involves a 360 degree screening process that includes a Police check; a reference from a doctor, employer, female relative and friend; a home interview and psychological assessment. The model looks for ‘wellness’ rather than pathology, with an emphasis on consistency across all the checks. The organization has had no accusations of abuse since it started in 1997.

The cost of rigorous vetting is inconsequential compared to the cost of picking up the pieces, says Richard Aston. “We’re talking about a massive emotional, social and economic cost here. The People’s Blueprint estimates domestic violence costs up to $7 billion per year and the cumulative costs over the next 10 years will climb to $78 billion if nothing changes.”

“Given that there were 23,000 substantiated cases of abuse, violence or neglect towards children last year, we can safely say child abuse is a big chunk of that cost. The big question is, do we have the will to stop it?”


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