Canberra mother calls for community support after her son is indecently assaulted
Canberra mother Remi Fletcher has created a petition calling for early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to do more when hiring employees to ensure that children are protected.
Ms Fletcher’s son was indecently assaulted by a male educator whilst he was enroled in an education and care service, with the assaults happening between February and April 2022, when he was four years of age.
The ECEC employee at the centre of the assaults has since been tried and found guilty by jury in the Supreme Court, and is currently completing an 18 month sentence for his crimes. Since the time of Ms Fletcher’s son coming forward, three other children have made statements to police.
“Since my son’s disclosure, nobody from any government agencies involved have ever called me to see if I’m okay, to see if my son is okay, to apologise, to refer me to a service, or to let me know that things are being followed up on,” Ms Fletcher shared.
The service where the assaults took place has since changed owners, and the name of the service was also changed after the offender was charged, which according to Ms Fletcher means that no reportable conduct investigation will be done.
At the time of the assaults, once the service was made aware, Ms Fletcher said that no one at centre-level notified police, and that she had to make “multiple phone calls to different agencies till a job was made with police for my son to make his statement.”
“Parents whose children attended the centre during this time have not received any notification from the police or the centre’s director. No parents of children who were enrolled in my son’s class have received notification. There was no notification given to the parents of children in (the) direct care (of the educator who was charged)” she added.
Ms Fletcher will be sending her petition to Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory Andrew Barr and Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry, calling for ministerial intervention in relation to the following:
- Mandatory police checks, as well as a working with vulnerable people (WWVP) card.
- Relevant offenses risk assessment to be conducted, with the ACT government obtaining a full list of any crimes committed by a person who is seeking a WWVP clearance, and making a determination about the person’s suitability to work with children.
- A character check to be implemented as part of the ECEC hiring process. “Things like having your last manager as the nominated reference, a Criminal History Police Check, a CYPS Check, and a Driving History,” Ms Fletcher said. “All these checks are needed to work in other organisations with vulnerable children, so there is no excuse for it not to be implemented in childcare (sic.).” She would also like to see all employees in an ECEC setting have a GP mental health check, and random drug testing once employed.
- Mandatory external protective education programs in place, in particular the Safe4Kids program from the age of three years. The Safe4Kids program, Ms Fletcher said, “saved my son’s abuse from getting worse, it taught him to identify unsafe touch and to speak up and tell an adult.”
Ms Fletcher expressed concern that the man who offended against her son had disclosed two periods of unemployment due to drug use, and that the offender had multiple diagnoses which were unmanaged, but which are clinically recommended to be managed with antipsychotic medications.
The offender was also known to be a daily user of cannabis, as well as using cocaine and non prescribed opiates.
“I am livid that this (comment redacted) was able to access my child and other children,” Ms Fletcher said.
“This crime could have been prevented. The hiring process, checks, and laws need to be changed immediately, children are currently at risk in every centre in Canberra.”
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