Page 386 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 17 February 2015

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continue to advocate for young men, to encourage them to turn their lives around and to seek assistance if they feel they are getting into trouble.

We value the ongoing support of volunteers, sponsors and staff, as without it we could not help the young men and their families as we do.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Battenally

To me, it is very clear from that letter that at no time were school students placed at risk, as volunteers were always accompanied by staff.

For members’ information, the then chair of Menslink made contact with me late last year, following media reporting of my son’s sentencing. He alerted me to the fact that Menslink was in breach, that my son had exceeded the number of days as allowed under the act and that Menslink, quite rightly, were referring this matter to the ORS. As a result my son received a letter from the ORS seeking an explanation of the breach. My son replied and received, in turn, a reply from the ORS recognising that there was a breach and providing him with a warning not to undertake any further volunteering until he had applied, been assessed and been provided—possibly, I would say—with a restricted working with vulnerable people card.

In regard to the matter of Menslink providing a reference for my son, yes, the CEO did provide a reference for my son, as he has provided for many other young men at the request of the young men themselves, their families or legal counsel. The reference provided for my son was at the request of all three. On the advice of my son’s legal counsel, I approached the CEO on behalf of my son. It should be noted that this approach was made after he started voluntary work with Menslink.

As I said last week, any volunteering activity undertaken by my adult son is his choice and his responsibility and has no bearing on my ministerial responsibilities. The arrangements for my son’s involvement with the silence is deadly program are between my son and the CEO of Menslink.

For the information of members and the community, at no time did I ask or direct Menslink to send my son into schools as a volunteer, nor have I at any time asked or directed my staff or officials from ETD to make any exceptions for my son. Further, I did not at any time approach any representative of Menslink and ask that my son be involved in the silence is deadly program. My son’s involvement is his own, and not my, initiative.

ETD have systems and processes in place that allow community groups and volunteers into schools that meet necessary requirements. I have no hesitation in asking ETD to review their current arrangements and to ensure that all that can be done is being done. I have no doubt that other agencies and organisations across Canberra will be looking also at their systems and at where improvements can be made.

Let me now put on record my absolute respect and regard for Menslink and for the work that they do in our community. I again quote from the Menslink website:

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