In an historical landmark case, the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal upheld its decision against the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat who is now held vicariously liable for sexual abuse committed by a parish priest.
The significance of the decision to uphold its findings against the Diocese sends a very firm message to all religious organisations, and by implication other organisations relying on volunteers and contractors that they may be vicariously liable for any abuse committed by people in those working arrangements.
“It is important that organisations that engage or appoint volunteers and religious leaders consider whether they hold insurance that extends to criminal abuses by volunteers and other non-employees. As it stands, there is no absolute, unequivocal defence against liability for the consequences of criminal abuse simply because the perpetrator is not an employee”, states Skye.
Skye continues “there are safeguards that can be adopted to minimise the risk of harm and liability to organisations.”
At Oho, we strongly recommend ongoing monitoring of all employees, contractors and volunteers credentials such as Working with Children Checks (WWCCs) to both set a high bar for would be offenders and minimise the risk of conduct liability on the organisation.
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