The Royal Commission’s report of Case Study 15 - The response of swimming institutions, the Queensland and NSW Offices of the DPP and the Queensland Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian to allegations of child sexual abuse by swimming coaches - was released today.
The report follows a public hearing held in Sydney in 2014 which examined the responses of several institutions to allegations of child sexual abuse against swimming coaches Scott Volkers, Terrence Buck and Stephen Roser.
Scott Volkers was a swimming coach at local swimming clubs in Queensland during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1997 he was appointed Swimming Head Coach at the Queensland Academy of Sport, and in 2010 he was appointed Swimming Queensland Head Coach.
In 2002 he was charged with nine counts of indecent treatment of a girl under 16 involving three complainants. Charges were eventually discontinued by decision of the Queensland DPP.
The report examines the decision-making processes within the Queensland and New South Wales offices of the Directors of Public Prosecutions (ODPPs) in determining whether to proceed with charges of child sexual abuse against Mr Volkers.
The report concludes that there were a number of inadequacies in the processes of the New South Wales and Queensland ODPPs.
The report states that, ‘Any body that is given statutory independence and that cannot be subject to any external reviews is at risk of failure in its decision making processes’.
At the time of his arrest and during the committal hearing, Mr Volkers was employed as Head Swimming Coach by the Queensland Academy of Sport. He was directed not to have any contact with Academy athletes and was put on restricted duties. Once a determination was made that charges against Mr Volkers would not proceed, he was reinstated to full duties.
The report found that when the Academy reinstated Mr Volkers to full duties the Academy:
knew Mr Volkers was the subject of serious allegations of child sexual abuse amounting to criminal conduct
did not know and did not take any steps to find out the details of those allegations
knew that Mr Volkers could come into contact and have access to children in the course of his employment
Once charges were dropped, Mr Volkers was appointed as National Women’s Head Coach of Australian Swimming Incorporated/Swimming Australia. The report notes that no screening of Mr Volkers was conducted or even considered at the time of his appointment as Women’s Head Coach.
The Royal Commission found that Swimming Australia did not conduct an internal investigation of historic allegations of child sexual abuse made against Olympic swimming coach, Terrence Buck, when it became aware of them in 2009, as required by its Child Welfare Policy.
In 2014, the committee of the Scone Swimming Club became aware that the club’s former coach, Stephen Roser had been convicted in 1994 of indecent assault of a child under 16. In 2014, the committee agreed to remove Mr Roser’s name from the Stephen Roser Breaststroke Award, the list of club champions in the club book and ‘all other club materials from now and in the future unanimously’.
However, the report notes the committee did not communicate with Swimming NSW or Swimming Australia about the Mr Roser’s conviction and did not consider notifying former club members about the conviction.
Read the full report here.