Working with Children check granted to man 18 years after indecent assault of child near Bendigo

A MAN who indecently assaulted a 14-year-old girl almost 20 years ago near Bendigo has been granted a Working with Children check after a tribunal found he no longer posed a risk to children.

The man – referred to as VVN in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal – pleaded guilty in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court in 2001 to committing an indecent act with a child under 16.

He was aged 18 at the time, and the incident involved the forceful indecent assault of the child while they were unsupervised.

The man avoided conviction and was placed on a six-month community-based order. He breached the order one year later.

Last year he applied for a Working with Children check with the Department of Justice and Regulation, but it was automatically refused because he was a Category A offender.

The man appealed the decision in VCAT, which handed down its decision on Monday.

VCAT heard the man has not offended in the 17 years since the indecent act.

Paul Panayi, acting for the Department of Justice and Regulation, said VVN had “some unresolved psychological issues” and there may have been “a lack of exposure to the opportunity to reoffend”.'

Mr Panayi said there was not enough evidence to prove VVN did not pose a future threat to children, and he had displayed a lack of insight into his offending that “could be associated with an increased risk of recidivism”.

VCAT deputy president Heather Lambrick, who presided in the matter, said VVN’s actions since the offending were “exceptional”. He had removed himself from a “toxic environment” and held stable jobs.

She said VVN had carried “unresolved trauma issues” with him for the last 17 years and had not reoffended.

“There is no evidence before me upon which I could find that his possible emotional and mental health issues have had a negative impact on the way in which he conducts himself or would conduct himself with children,” Ms Lambrick said.

“It may be that VVN would benefit from further counselling. That does not however mean that a failure to undertake such counselling places him as a threat to children.

“The professional opinion expressed in 2001 that VVN was unlikely to reoffend has been proven by the passage of time. He has not reoffended.”

She was satisfied a reasonable person would allow their children to have direct contact with VVN while he was engaged in child-related work, and that they “would say it was now time to give VVN an opportunity to fully engage in life”.

VCAT granted a Working with Children assessment notice.