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Mandatory Police Vetting A Must For Working With Children

A child abuse advocacy group is backing calls to make Police vetting mandatory for everyone who works with children – saying the current rules don’t go far enough.

Child Matters Chief Executive Jane Searle says the recent case of a convicted paedophile who continued to work with children[1] demonstrates that the law needs to go further to protect children.

The Children’s Commissioner is lobbying the Government to make vetting mandatory for everyone who works with children, something Child Matters fully supports.

“Every organisation that has anything to do with children – no matter how indirectly – should have a child protection policy, including vetting of all employees and volunteers.”

Ms Searle says the case highlights the moral obligations on employers – even if they’re not currently legal obligations.

“At the moment, vetting is not compulsory unless the organisation falls under the Children’s Act, which includes Government agencies or those with Government contracts, including education and health.

“While it might not be legally required, this case is a reminder that every organisation needs a child protection policy and should follow best practice regarding the recruitment and vetting of all employees or volunteers.”

Ms Searle says parents and caregivers should also feel confident in questioning extracurricular or after school activity providers around their policies and procedures.

“While parents and caregivers might simply expect there are policies in place, we would encourage them to make sure they’re informed about what an organisation is doing to keep tamariki safe – and to be insistent on ensuring these policies are followed.

“Unfortunately it isn’t necessarily enough to trust that a provider will have taken these steps. It’s critical that parents and caregivers are vigilant in knowing who is interacting with their children and that proper practices are in place, such as children not being left alone with another person.

“It may feel like an awkward conversation but it is so important – and given we don’t have mandatory vetting, people can’t rely that this has taken place.”

Ms Searle says the case also provides an opportunity for organisations working with children to have conversations with parents and caregivers about the measures they have in place to protect children.

“These are important conversations to have and the more we can discuss topics like child safety and protection, the more we are raising awareness amongst the whole community.”

Child Matters is an independent organisation which works to stop child abuse through advocacy, training and practical partnerships.

Unlike many other countries, in New Zealand child protection training is not mandatory for professionals or volunteers who work with children and young people – which means some of the key people in a child’s life may not be equipped with the skills and expertise to recognise the signs of abuse, and how best to respond.

Child Matters was formed in 1994 to meet this need by upskilling those working and interacting with children, young people and their families and whānau so they are able to identify risks concerning vulnerability and abuse and have the knowledge and confidence to take appropriate action.

[1] Convicted paedophile Nikola Michael Marinovich, 34, who pleaded guilty to further charges yesterday 

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