Scott Volkers endorsed for women’s coaching job despite abuse allegations, court hears

Former Swimming Australia CEO Glenn Tasker appears via video link at the Commission. Photo: Screenshot from live streamThe former head of Swimming Australia wanted to throw an application by Scott Volkers for the national women’s coaching job “in the bin”, the Royal Commission has heard.

Instead, Glenn Tasker and his selection panel gave Mr Volkers the job without investigating the details of child sex abuse allegations against him or speaking to victims, and with an uncritical acceptance of the coach’s denials.

The Royal Commission heard on Wednesday that the day before nine child sex charges were dropped against Mr Volkers in September 2002, he applied for the women’s coaching job.

A month later the job was his, with the five-member selection panel, including Mr Tasker, the chief executive of Swimming Australia, voting unanimously to give him the job.

“Part of me wanted to throw it in the bin … but there was a panel set up to review the applications and it was sent to that committee for processing,” Mr Tasker said.

“Did you ask him about the detail of the allegations? Did you ask him to tell the committee what the allegations against him were in detail?” counsel assisting the Commission, Caroline Spruce asked.

“No we did not,” Mr Tasker replied.

“How could you make an assessment about his suitability to work with children if you didn’t even know what the substance of the allegations against him were?” Ms Spruce continued

“I think most of us on the committee believed that Mr Volkers would be working on the national team … [and] somewhere between 85 and 95 per cent of the team would be adults,” the witness continued.

Mr Tasker said that Mr Volkers categorically denied the allegations against him, and that he did not have access to the evidence in the case.

But the Chair of Commission, Justice Peter McClellan, put it to the former chief executive that he could simply have contacted the complainants in the case to find out more information.

“Why couldn’t you have sought out the people who complained about his behaviour and spoken to them?” Justice McLellan asked

“All you had to do was ask him who they were,” he continued.

Mr Tasker said that he had “never experienced anything” like the situation with Mr Volkers, that he had been “new in the job”, and that, in hindsight, he should have done things differently.

Later Mr Tasker said he was “horrified” to learn, in 2005, of another allegation of child sex abuse against Volkers.

Nonetheless, he uncritically accepted the decision of the Queensland Department of Legal Services to have the complaint struck out because of the time that had elapsed since the offending.

The hearing continues.

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