Group at sex abuse inquiry 'passed audits'

By Annette Blackwell

The CEO of a disability service provider alleged to have tried to hide child sex abuse says the organisation passes all audits with flying colours.

At the sex abuse royal commission hearing on Friday, Vicki Batten, chief executive of FSG Australia was passionate in her defence of the group which supports families with disabled children.

The commission heard evidence from two mothers who said their severely disabled daughters were sexually molested while in FSG care and the organisation seemed more intent on protecting its reputation than doing anything.

Ms Batten said FSG goes through several audits a year - child safety, aged care, disability audits - and "we always pass with flying colours".

She said auditors who double check FSG describe it as "fabulous."

Ms Batten said she would like the audit system changed because standards across the disability sector are not always enforced.

A system that rewards those who perform beyond the standards - like FSG - would be better she said.

She expects a star-rating system will be introduced under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Ms Batten was an assistant manager of FSG in Southport in 2000 when a mother - "CIK" - spoke with her because her 10-year-old daughter, who cannot speak and needs high level care, was communicating that someone had oral sex with her.

CIK thought it could have happened at Orana House, a respite facility run by FSG.

On Thursday CIK described the meeting with three FSG people as 'jaw-droppingly' bad.

She said Ms Batten interrogated her and she felt FSG was not going to even consider its staff might be responsible.

Ms Batten said she would not defend FSG in any way if her investigations had raised concerns.

Earlier on Friday, Lloyd Hastings, president of FSG Australia until 2002, told Gail Furness SC, counsel assisting, he agreed "100 per cent" that there was a failure when management tried to handle sex abuse complaints and did not report them to the board.

He said he had not heard of one allegation until three years after it was made and the first he heard of CIK was at the commission.

"What do you want me to say (there was) an orchestrated litany of lies? I just cannot believe that there are two cases that there was no knowledge of," Mr Hastings said.

FSG was founded on the Gold Coast in the 1970s as a family support group is now incorporated and called Freedom, Social Justice and Growth.

It has expanded services into aged care and youth programs and gets government funding of $54 million a year.

The commission resumes on Tuesday with panel discussions and an examination of NDIS policies on safeguarding children.