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Swim chiefs wrong to hire Volkers: inquiry

Swimming Australia should never have put coach Scott Volkers in charge of the national women’s team, a royal commission has been advised.

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The child sex abuse inquiry has also been advised by its chief counsel to find the swimming body did not follow its own mandatory screening policy by not asking Volkers about his suitability to work with children.

Counsel assisting Gail Furness said that before employing Volkers as head coach, Swimming Australia knew he was the subject of sex abuse allegations from three former students in the 1980s.

But the body did not know and did not take steps to find out the details of those allegations, Ms Furness said in her submission, which was released on Friday.

“Swimming Australia should have carried out its own internal investigation into the allegations against Mr Volkers, applying the balance of probabilities as the standard of proof, prior to employing him as national women’s head coach,” Ms Furness said.

“In the circumstances, Swimming Australia should not have employed Mr Volkers as national women’s head.”

In 2003, the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to pursue the charges against Volkers, a decision being examined by the royal commission.

The inquiry has also probed the advice provided to the Queensland DPP by its NSW counterpart that there was insufficient new evidence to pursue a case against Volkers.

Ms Furness questioned NSW prosecutor Margaret Cunneen’s impartiality over the Volkers’ case.

The submission also said the Queensland Academy of Sport did not have sufficient information to form an assessment of Volkers’ suitability to work with children before it reinstated him to full duties in September 2002.

“The academy should not have continued to employ Mr Volkers as head swimming coach after he was charged with child sexual assault offences in 2002,” Ms Furness said.

Volkers now coaches swimming in Brazil.

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