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Statement from Joshua Tabor, Chief Executive, SCOUTS New Zealand

18 December 2020

We are deeply saddened that a former volunteer is facing charges in relation to alleged historic sexual offences involving children in the Wellington District Court. Scouts first learned of the charges when the man was arrested in March this year and is cooperating fully with the police investigation.

While the man cannot be named due to a suppression order, Scouts can confirm he was involved in the scouting movement in the Auckland region between 1971 and 1977, and in the Wellington region between 1977 and 2018. Due to the suppression order that is all we can share at this time.

When the charges were laid, the defence counsel requested name suppression for the man and Scouts New Zealand. Scouts immediately applied to the court to have our name suppression lifted. We made this decision to encourage survivors to come forward by either going directly to the police or through our Scout help number. We believe that child abuse thrives in the shadow of shame and silence. The best way to help survivors is to be transparent about the issue and allow them to start their healing journey.

We encourage any former or current Scouts who may have concerns to contact Police via 105 and quote Operation Antioch file number 191125/2050. Or to call the Scouts toll-free reporting line 0508 SCOUTHELP. The phone is staffed 24/7 by a senior Scouts New Zealand team member.

Scouts is supporting the local groups impacted by the allegations. We have run information sessions in collaboration with New Zealand Police to provide parents with information and to help them understand the nature of the charges. Parents and volunteers were also offered support through our counselling service.

Scouts’ number one priority is providing a safe environment for our young people and an environment that parents can trust. Scouts New Zealand has a robust Child Safety Policy, which is updated regularly to ensure it remains best practice.

Our policy includes protections such as zero tolerance for any doubtful behaviour, and no leader is allowed to be alone with a young person.

We work with our leaders, volunteers, as well as our scouts and their parents to ensure our child protection policy is well understood. This includes providing cards to all volunteers and having posters visible in all halls. All our adult members are police safety checked every two years. All volunteers are required to complete three online learning modules around Child Safety.

We believe parents should be concerned if a youth-based organisation is not discussing child protection issues.

We are proud of our 4,500 adult volunteers who work hard to bring out the best with our 12,500 youth members in a safe environment. Every year our volunteers provide New Zealand with over one million hours of youth development to support our young people and help make New Zealand a better and safer place.