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An Update on current Child Protection Enquiries

In January 2013 the Australian Government established the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to child sexual abuse. This Commission has been taking submissions since that time reviewing how institutions have responded to allegations and instances of child sexual abuse. At the request of the Commission, later this month representatives of Maccabi Australia will take part in a private round table workshop chaired by the Commissioner Fitzgerald and Commissioner Milroy to consider best practice for organisations to make them child safe. This is an honour and a privilege and reflects the quality of the Maccabi Member Protection Policies Handbook and associated Toolkit. (Copies of which are available at www.maccabi.com.au). This invitation is, in part, recognition by the Commission that the work undertaken by Maccabi in the area of child protection and the policies that have been developed to protect our members is a model from which others can benefit and learn.

Also in 2013 the Victorian Government commenced an enquiry into the handling of child abuse cases by religious and other organisations and in February 2015 a Royal Commission into Family Violence was established. It presented its report to the Victorian Parliament on 30 March 2016.  (See page 15 for a summary of its recommendations on the recommended strategies for addressing family violence in our community).


The Legal Situation – Reporting Requirements

The laws in relation to child protection and the penalties for not complying and reporting incidents of child abuse differ from State to State. Given that Maccabi is a national organisation, we have decided to adopt the highest possible standards for both MANDATORY AND VOLUNTARY reporting, as defined in the various State and Federal legislative provisions, as our minimum reporting standards. To this end, we have removed the distinction between mandatory and voluntary reporting and set out below are details of our current reporting requirements:

A person who, in the course of their employment, or involvement or provision of voluntary services within Maccabi, MUST:

With respect to any person under the age of 18 years:

  1. Report and contact the police immediately; and
  2. Report and contact the relevant emergency authority; and
  3. File a report with the National Maccabi Integrity Officer

if he/she believes on reasonable grounds OR has reasonable grounds to suspect that:

  • a person under the age of 18 years has experienced, or is experiencing, sexual abuse or non-accidental physical injury OR
  • an offence has been committed (i.e. child abuse); OR
  • there is at an unacceptable risk of suffering significant harm caused by physical or sexual abuse ill-treatment or neglect or psychological harm AND
  • if he or she believes that their information might be of assistance to police in apprehending, prosecuting or convicting the offender.

With respect to any person over the age of 18 years;

Report the incident to the relevant State or the National Maccabi Integrity Officer

  • if he/she believes on reasonable grounds OR
  • if he/she has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person over the age of 18 years, has experienced, or is experiencing, sexual abuse or non-accidental physical injury; OR
  • if he/she has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person over the age of 18 years is at an unacceptable risk of suffering significant harm caused by physical or sexual abuse ill-treatment or neglect or psychological harm.

NB: The MAI TOOLKIT provides specific contact details for internal and external contact details for both Maccabi MPP issues and for various State child protection authorities (See pages 41-43).


Legislative Changes

There are two key additions in legislation that are important for us all as Participants in Maccabi.

It is now an offence if you:

  • Fail to protect a child from becoming a victim to a sexual offence (maximum penalty 10 years imprisonment).
  • Fail to report to the Police a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed against a child (a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment).

We urge all Maccabi club administrators, officials and coaches (whether at Club, State or National level) to read the “Child Protection Toolkit” that has been prepared by “Our Community Pty Ltd and Moores Legal to better understand their legal obligations regarding child safety generally and child abuse in particular. The onus is on each of us to be aware of our legal obligations under State laws. Please click oin the above link to the "Child Protection Toolkit", particularly at Chapter 6 which sets out the legal reporting obligations in your State.

Remember, the penalties for not complying with the child protection laws are serious and may well involve a term of imprisonment if they are not complied with.


Maccabi’s MPP Handbook, Management Tool Kit & Tribunal Rules & Procedures

On behalf of all Maccabi clubs, Maccabi Australia has worked to have a series of documents and procedures that are considered leading edge in both the Jewish and sporting communities. We have developed these documents and procedures to ensure that all our members are treated with respect and are safe in the environments in which they participate, but also to support the countless volunteers that are involved in Maccabi to ensure that your rights are also protected. But having these documents and procedures are not enough. As you can see from the legislative changes referred to above, if we do not embrace the rules and procedures that have been developed, we may well become personally liable and be subject to substantial penalties and fines.

Member and child protection is our collective responsibility, within Maccabi, and in our community as a whole.

The Maccabi MPP Handbook, Toolkit and Tribunal Rules contain the policies & procedures and the aids that you will need to understand what MPP is all about and what you need to do to manage an MPP issue should it arise. We ask you to take the time to become familiar with these documents and use them as your key reference point to deal with all MPP matters that affect you or your club.

Click here to be taken to the appropriate place on the website to find the relevant MPP document or procedure.


MPP Training Sessions

All club coaches, officials and administrators are required to have undertaken the MPP training. It is imperative that all those involved with your club understand the importance of this training the implications of non-compliance. It is also important that they know what to do when an issue arises and how they should deal with it.

The attendance and commitment to this training has been excellent, but it must become a non-negotiable term of agreement with all our officials and coaches, Such attendance is to be in addition to their requirement to have provided you with valid Working With Children (or equivalent) Checks. Sessions are scheduled throughout the year, so please make contact with your State Maccabi office to find out the times and venues.

The sessions in NSW are run by Roger Engel, the NSW State Integrity Officer, while the Melbourne sessions are conducted by Maccabi Australia’s Executive Director, Ellana Aarons.


What to do in if you or a member of your club has an MPP issue

The first port of call should always be your Club’s Compliance Officer if practical. Where this is not practical or where the Compliance Officer requires support or assistance, set out below are the names of the State Maccabi Integrity Officers that you should contact. You can be put in touch with them via the relevant Maccabi Office:

  • NSW: Roger Engel                
  • Victoria: Leanne Faraday-Brash           
  • WA: David Lenhoff                
  • National: Dr Yvonne Fayman

Our Commitment

Maccabi is committed to ensure that every person who participates in our organisation is treated with respect and dignity and is protected from discrimination, harassment and abuse. The safety, wellbeing and rights of all of our members, but most specifically our children, is of paramount importance. It is up to each and every one of us, no matter what our role, to fully understand and give effect to our member protection responsibilities.

Philip Sheezel
MAI Board Member

Chairperson of the Maccabi MPP Sub Committee

If you have any questions about any of the matters set out in this bulletin or any other member protection issue that is currently affecting your club, please contact your relevant State or National Maccabi Integrity officer, or you can contact Ellana Aarons, Executive Director of Maccabi Australia  via email or on +61 3 9563 5865.

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