The YMCA has a lot to answer for in New South Wales. In 2009, YMCA New South Wales hired a casual childcare assistant for their outside school hours care (OSHC) program in Caringbah. The assistant’s name was Jonathan Lord. If their recruitment team had checked Lord’s resume, they would have seen he had no legitimate experience working in the childcare industry and had been sacked from a summer camp in America due to his “questionable” behaviour with an underage boy. The recruitment manager, Jacqui Barat, failed to:
Talk to his most recent employment
Discuss whether he had previously been the subject of an employer investigation
Babysitting children outside of the YMCA was prohibited – but Lord was doing it anyway
Drawing of Jonathan Lord by “AJ”, tendered as evidence at the royal commission into child sex abuse (source: Essential Kids)
Jonathon Lord worked for YMCA New South Wales for two years. He was a coordinator at two of the five YMCA centres in New South Wales, meaning he had access to children all over the state. He often breached YMCA New South Wales’ child protection policies by allowing children to sit in his lap, babysitting children outside the YMCA and attended events outside of work with children. Babysitting was prohibited to maintain the separation between professional and personal relationships. Other YMCA employees (including Jacqui Barat) and parents knew Lord was babysitting children outside the YMCA but his misconduct was not reported. In 2011, Lord was sacked due to allegations he had sexually abused a child on an excursion. YMCA New South Wales contacted Joint Investigation Response Team (JIRT) and set up a support hotline for parents and families involved with the YMCA. Several parents of children who had been groomed or abused contacted JIRT.
The Royal Commission found YMCA New South Wales had failed to protect children on multiple fronts
Hired a child protection manager who managed the Royal Commission’s recommendations and reports to the Chief Risk Officer and CEO
Appointed new board members with specific expertise in child protection
Completed WWCCs and criminal record checks
Ensured all new board members undertake child protection training and training on YMCA New South Wales child protection policies as part of their induction
Established a Child Protection Unit and an “immediate alert system” for all child-related incidents
Established a risk management framework that requires monthly reporting
Established yearly child safety assessments
Ceased outside school hours care services in Caringbah.
YMCA New South Wales was also quick to join the National Redress Scheme after its launch on July 1st 2018. The case around Jonathon Lord was a massive failure on behalf of YMCA New South Wales. It’s shocking an influential, child-focused organisation could have such a blatant disregard for child protection and safety procedures. No background checks were made. Referees weren’t contacted. It’s incredible Lord’s resume was looked over at all. These kinds of mistakes can’t be allowed to happen. However, when they do, Kelso Lawyers is here to support you and your family. Together, we can achieve an apology and compensation for the suffering you’ve experienced.