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The dilemma facing many organisations, especially those relying heavily on volunteers is, “how do you guarantee the safety of your young people?”
Every day, at least one working with children check is revoked in almost every state in Australia. Yet, a mere 5 per cent of organisations are competently verifying working with children checks and other similar right-to-work checks at any time beyond hiring.
Professional licences and vital certifications such as working with children checks are fluid and can quickly change or be revoked, requiring constant monitoring to ensure a workforce remains compliant.
It only takes one scandalous incident to destroy the reputation of the sporting organisation that is charged with training and developing young people. Apart from the damage done to the victim and their family, it leaves the board, administrators, volunteers and coaches at risk of prosecution.
Most HR teams are diligent in performing the often complicated but necessary checks and background screening during the hiring phase to ensure that candidates are everything they say they are. However, not everyone tells the truth and there is more to ensuring compliance than these singular point in time checks.
The people who prey on the vulnerable have proven themselves to be without remorse, incredibly clever at disguising their past behaviours and if they can game the system to get access to young people they will. Worse still, many procedures that organisations have in place are flawed and clunky.
The Australian Sports Commission in July 2020 declared children and young people have the right to be safe from abuse at all times, including when they are in sporting environments. Sport Integrity Australia declared child safety must be embedded in every Australian sporting organisation’s culture and understood and practised at all levels of sport.
Both these statements are noble in intent and there are policies and procedures behind the statements to guide sporting bodies as to their obligations.
Sport Integrity Australia went further and stated, “It is essential everyone involved with delivering sport in Australia understands the important legal and governance responsibilities they have in relation to child safety. This includes boards, committees, administrators, volunteers, coaches, parents and participants. We have zero tolerance for any behaviour that puts the well-being of children and young people at risk”.
AUSTSWIM Chief Executive Officer Brad Low is one administrator who recognises the ongoing need to continuously be implementing effective safeguarding measures. AUSTSWIM and Oho have signed an industry leading nationwide agreement that strengthens AUSTSWIM’s commitment to the safety of children and young people by providing our licensed teachers and swim schools with a powerful compliance management tool.
“The safety of children and young people is of the utmost importance, and of continued priority to us. The use of Oho’s technology will enable us to continue to create a culture of safety and accountability within our industry, ultimately enhancing the learn-to-swim experience for children and young people across Australia,” Mr Low said.
CEO at Junior Adventures Group and Board Chair at AustSwim Melinda Crole is equally dedicated to child safety. “We are committed to ensuring children are safe and feel safe. This is a social and moral responsibility of us all and therefore we have to do all we can. OHO is part of doing all we can. They allow us to ensure continuous attention and visibility and suitability of our people to work with children and ensure ongoing robust insurance coverage. “Doing” is imperative to ensure children are safe and feel safe!”
Gymnastics Australia CEO Alexandra Ash said, “We have a zero-risk tolerance in terms of safeguarding children and young people. Oho’s platform really feeds into that, making sure we have ongoing verification of our
Working With Children Checks and making sure we can be the safest we can be. Oho removes the administrative task and human error and really de-risks the WWC verification program for us. My favourite aspect about the Oho system for us is that instant verification, that’s what provides us the value and really the assurance that we are doing the right thing.”
Screening obligations are constantly changing and keeping up takes focus and effort in an already overworked environment
The difficulty is there is no single centralised database that stores this information – not even at state level. To ensure accuracy, an employer must cross-check with each and al of the individual organisations and bodies – for example the Department of Justice, AHPRA, VIT and many other state authorities – that maintain the required information.
However, while HR departments are the custodians of employee screening, the responsibility of non-compliance reaches all the way to the boardroom.
CEO and co-founder of Oho Claire Rogers said the beauty of automated credential verification management is that it creates an “independent safeguarding umpire” agnostic of power structures, to ensure any employee, volunteer or contractor that is working with vulnerable people is safe to serve, minimising community risk of harm.
“Risk mitigation of the type that Oho provides is a way to put strong safeguarding defences around an organisation and to deter those with intent from ever coming near it,” she said.
Oho has completed more than 5 million verifications of employee, volunteer and contractor credentials on behalf of its clients since the creation of the company.
Oho can help support sporting teams to protect those in your care and the reputation of your company.
If you wish to make an appointment to speak with Oho: https://calendly.com/ohosupport/book-a-demo?month=2023-07
Find out more about Oho at https://weareoho.com/