ACT Local Hero for 2015, Damian De Marco, was awarded for dedicating four decades to fighting child sexual abuse, exposing the systemic failure that protected paedophiles at the expense of children. Damian was in the news this week and was recognised for his role in lobbying for a reportable conduct scheme in the ACT that will ensure allegations of abuse are properly dealt with and that offenders are not moved around.
Damian wrote to us recently to reflect on the work he has been doing and what receiving the Local Hero Award has meant to him.
The ACT Local Hero Award has facilitated my ability to lobby for greater protections for children against sexual abuse. After lobbying for the last year, the ACT has just passed legislation for a Reportable conduct scheme based on the NSW scheme currently operating. This scheme will significantly reduce the risk of private institutions in the ACT being able to conceal cases of child sexual abuse from law enforcement as has happened in the past.
I have also been lobbying for all states and territories to establish similar schemes and for these schemes to be linked to ensure harmonious operations. In April this year, the ACT Chief Minister agreed to take this concept to COAG. The following is a transcript of Chief Minister Andrew Barr’s statement at the April COAG meeting.
“Finally, I’m delighted that we have an in-principle agreement across the federation for a nationally consistent reportable conduct scheme. Let’s be clear, the public confidence and the ability of institutions of all sizes and types to respond appropriately to allegations of abuse or neglect towards children, there's shaken public service as a result of the royal commission.
Our institutions across the jurisdictions need to be able to respond. The inconsistencies that are there and the levels of oversight, it’s certainly creating difficulties in identifying risks for children and young people. So we need a harmonised reportable conduct scheme.
And that my colleagues have agreed to that is a great advance today and I thank them for that”.
The agreement by all Premiers, Chief Ministers and the Prime Minister to pursue linked schemes is a significant step in the protection of our children from those that will harm them and those that will shield these people.
The ACT Local Hero Award has helped make these advances in child protection possible.
Damian De Marco