‘Give us data on family violence’

SCOUTS Victoria wants the right to find out which of its young charges’ parents are serial family violence offenders so it can protect the children.

Scouts Victoria chief commissioner Brendan Watson told the Herald Sun that Luke Batty, who was murdered by his father, Greg Anderson, had been a Scout, and “from time to time Luke Batty’s father would visit his Scout hall”.

“We have had situations of parents wanting to access their child at Scouting events, in contravention of court orders.

“It is difficult for adult volunteers to fulfil their duty of care if they are unaware of critical issues affecting these children,” Mr Watson said.

“Non-government service providers, such as Scouting, need to be aware of any serial family violence offenders they deal with — subject to appropriate privacy safeguards.”

Scouts Victoria wants the State Government to consider creating a database of court orders and information about repeat offenders for it and groups like it, so systems can be set up to keep their members safe.

In a submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence, it also outlined plans to set up a family violence hotline and said psychologists had been hired after Luke’s death.

Its submission says it is planning to educate its members and its leaders on family violence matters.

And a third party could set up a hotline for the movement.

Mr Watson envisaged it would provide advice, information and referrals concerning family violence matters.

In the past year, 12 Victorian Scout groups and more than 300 individuals have received counselling from appointed psychologists.

Mr Watson said those counselled included members of Luke’s Scout patrol, as well as Scouts and volunteer leaders who had been affected by other traumatic incidents.

“These include a young Cub Scout losing his battle with cancer, a Scout killed on the family farm, a young leader with terminal illness, and another killed in a car accident,” said Mr Watson, who is an ambassador for White Ribbon, which works to prevent male violence against women.

Mr Watson said Scouts Victoria hoped to expand the service to help support family violence victims and others in crisis.

Herald Sun 27 July 2015