Inquiry refers YMCA worker to DPP
The child abuse royal commission has recommended that the YMCA NSW supervisor who recruited a pedophile be prosecuted for lying to the commission.
In findings handed down on Wednesday the commission said the public evidence of Jacqui Barnat, co-ordinator at a south Sydney childcare centre where Jonathan Lord worked for almost three years, conflicted with her private evidence.
Lord was jailed in 2013 for 10 years, with a six-year non-parole period, for molesting 12 boys between the ages of six and 11.
In private evidence to the commission Ms Barnat said staff never started work until a working with children check (WWCC) clearance came through but later admitted she was mistaken.
The findings on Wednesday upheld many but not all the recommendations in December by counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness SC, who said Ms Barnat should be prosecuted for lying about the WWCC.
The commission said on Wednesday there was insufficient evidence to do this but she did lie outright about her own babysitting activities.
Babysitting for parents who were YMCA clients was against regulations. Lord did it openly and in this way gained access to many of the children he abused.
Ms Barnat later admitted she too babysat.
The commission said it felt it was necessary to refer Ms Barnat’s evidence on her babysitting to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“It is a serious matter to give false evidence to a royal commission. Her answers cannot be explained by the atmosphere of the private hearing or the nature of her examination. The questions asked were clear and direct, and required a truthful answer.
“However, we remain concerned that Ms Barnat has not accepted her failures and learned from them.”
The inquiry has already forced the country’s largest childcare operator to overhaul management, policies and practices.
CEO Phillip Hare resigned in May and children’s service manager Liam Whitely was moved to a role where he is not handling childcare services.
Ms Furness had said the YMCA was unlikely ever to be child-safe with them in charge. The commission on Wednesday upheld that.
Throughout the hearing the provider argued that the events at one Sydney centre did not mean systemic failure and it blamed junior staff for failing to implement child safety policies.
In its 165-page report the commission said the fact “abuse occurred in the way it did at YMCA Caringbah calls into question the child safety practices of YMCA NSW”.
It also found YMCA NSW was responsible for not adequately training staff, including Ms Barnat.
YMCA NSW said it “sincerely apologises to the children who were abused, as well as the families and colleagues who have been affected by the actions of Lord”.
It also acknowledged “failings have been identified in its procedures and in the implementation of its policies, including child protection”.