January 28th 2017


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Company tax proposal just made for Trump

EDITORIAL Trump installed but the left refuses to accept it

CANBERRA OBSERVED Greens' footprints all over travel claims

U.S. POLITICS Team Trump to implement new President's agenda

INTELLIGENCE Lame report on Russian interference in U.S. poll

ENVIRONMENT The scientific myth within the Murray-Darling Basin Plan

EUTHANASIA Case for assisted suicide "not made": Daniel Mulino

OPINION Submission is the fit word, Tim, not humility

OBITUARY WA loses NCC founding member, Frank Malone

GENDER POLITICS Safe Schools Coalition versus child safe schools

RURAL LIFE Sandalwood a balm for forgotten farmers

MUSIC Swing low and deep: it don't mean a thing if it don't have that

BOOK REVIEW The tyranny of the offended

BOOK REVIEW Not quite perfect but worth a revisit

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GENDER POLITICS
Safe Schools Coalition versus child safe schools


by Terri M. Kelleher

News Weekly, January 28, 2017

As part of its response to the recommendations of Betrayal of Trust, the report of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations, the Victorian Government has introduced mandatory Child Safe Standards for all institutions, organisations, groups, and clubs that provide services for children. Schools obviously have to be the largest of those providers.

Three new criminal offences were introduced by the former Coalition government to improve responses to child sexual abuse:

“Failure to disclose” (Crimes Act, section 327), which makes it an offence for any adult who holds a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child not to report that belief to police.

“Failure to protect” (Crimes Act, section 49C), which applies to people within organisations who knew of a risk of child sexual abuse by someone in the organisation and had the authority to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently failed to do so.

“Grooming offence” (Crimes Act, section 49B(2)), which makes it an offence for an adult to communicate with a child with the intent of committing child sexual abuse.

These provisions are to be applauded, but they operate only after the abuse or the grooming has occurred. They are not preventative.

Now new Child Safe Standards (CSSs) require compulsory minimum standards for organisations providing services to children, among which is CSS 6: “to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse”.

The controversial Safe Schools Coalition extreme GLBT sex-education program recommends that young people under the age of 18 visit websites and organisations that could very well expose them to the risk of child abuse or grooming.

Safe Schools resources encourage students to become involved with a number of external organisations, both online and in person, some of which are of an adult/erotic nature and raise serious concerns regarding child protection. Safe Schools in recommending such organisations to students operates as a gateway to connect students to these organisations.

The Safe Schools resource, All of Us, recommends the organisation Minus18 and its website. Minus18 provides an online forum as a customised social networking site with a user base as at January, 2016, of more than 5000. It is unclear what measures, if any, are taken regarding child protection on this site, whether there is any way to be sure that those communicating are under the age of 18, and that the site is not being used by sexual predators who know young people are being referred to it.

Minus18 also organises events and activities for young people outside of school. Do schools providing Safe Schools resources to students which recommend Minus18 and therefore its events and activities, know what measures are in place to protect their students who may attend?

Minus18 also provides a link to the U.S.-based Scarleteen website, which contains recommendations on how to restrain a sex partner with rope, and on the use of sex toys, as well as electric shavers and toothbrushes. Polyamorous relationships are promoted, and graphic advice is provided on how to engage in oral and manual sex and how to maximise pleasure.

Scarleteen provides message boards for communication as well as real-time messaging with staff and volunteers providing sex advice to children and adolescents. Given the site’s content, such as detailed advice for teens on how to tie up a sex partner, recommending this site to young people who are still at school and therefore under 18 raises issues of child protection and grooming. It does not seem possible to ensure that the staff and some users of the site would not represent a danger to children.

Safe Schools Coalition Victoria resource All of Us (on page 14) also recommends Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria (GLHV) to students. GLHV’s Gender Questioning booklet (page 19) recommends groups and websites that students may find “a useful starting point”.

One of these is the website and contact details of the Seahorse Club Victoria, which recommends the nightclub/fetish club Abode as a “TG friendly venue”. The nightclub is located at the same physical address as the sadomasochistic venue The Parlour Lounge. The Parlour Lounge features sex rooms (“intimate play areas”).

In a PowerPoint presentation on how the CCSs are to be implemented, an example is given of a community service organisation that operates a drop-in service for adult clients and also a youth group for young people aged 14 to 17.

It is recommended that, in accordance with the requirements of the Child Safe Standards, to have “strategies to identify and reduce or remove the risks of child abuse” (Standard 6), the organisation:

  • undertakes a risk assessment of the physical spaces used during the provision of all services; and
  • ensures that there is adequate supervision. (Slide 47)

This is an almost identical situation to the Seahorse Club, which offers events and activities for young GLBT people and is situated at the same address as the above-mentioned fetish nightclub and sadomasochistic nightclub. To conform to CSSs, schools which provide access for their students to the Seahorse Club activities through SSCV resources, at the very least would be obliged to check the Seahorse Club’s associated and physically proximate adult sex venues to ensure their students are safe from sexual abuse or grooming by adults using the nightclubs.

The CSSs really require them to undertake “a risk assessment of the physical spaces used during provision of services” and to ensure “adequate supervision” of those students.

The CSSs require organisations to have strategies to identify and reduce or remove the risk of child abuse, to adopt a risk-management approach by considering risks of both physical and online environments and, where risks are identified, to reduce or remove them (Slide 41). An example of how to implement this is to identify organisational child abuse risks, for example blocked-off/out-of-sight spaces (especially rooms with doors that can be locked) (Slide 42).

Surely a risk-management approach would require close assessment of the risks of a school recommending or providing access to outside websites and venues through SSCV resources. Links to outside venues or websites are the online equivalent of “blocked-off/out-of-sight places”. And how can schools monitor who their students are talking to when they access Minus18 online chat rooms or the Scarleteen advice line, for example?

CSS2 requires an organisation to have a Child Safe Policy that provides key elements of its approach to becoming child safe, such as recruitment processes, reporting procedures and guides to how the organisation manages child abuse risks (Slide 29). For schools surely a key element of a Child Safe Policy would be close examination of any program or resources to be used in the school with a view to ensuring they do not carry any risk of enabling grooming or sex abuse of students to occur.

The SSCV resources in recommending and providing access to outside adult/erotic websites and venues set up the circumstances for “grooming” to occur. This is surely a child protection issue.

CASAC Inc is a New South Wales peak body for community-based services providing child sexual assault counseling and support services. Grooming is activity aimed at establishing a relationship with a child for the purpose of facilitating sexual activity at a later time.

CASAC’s “Grooming Fact Sheet” describes the process of grooming as:

  • Sexualisation of the relationship through conversation and exposure of the child to sexual material such as images.
  • Taking undue interest in the child’s sexual development.
  • Assuring the child of the “rightness” of what they are doing.
  • Telling the child the acts will not hurt them.
  • Alienate the child from their parents and family so that they do not feel close to them.
  • Shaping the child’s sexual preferences and manipulating what the child finds exciting.

The Safe Schools program contains considerable highly sexual content that can desensitise children to both discussing and engaging in a wide range of sexual behaviours and creates environments and situations both inside and outside of school that can put individual children in contact with adults.

Organisations that are regulated or funded by the government to provide services for children, which include schools, are required by the new Child Safe Standards to “work towards compliance with” those standards. For schools this surely has to be by a review of any programs used in the school to assess their potential to enable grooming or expose children to child sex abuse.




























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