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Racing Victoria to discuss compo for abuse survivors


Racing Victoria will discuss whether abuse victims should receive compensation, after an investigation found children as young as 12 connected to the racing industry were harassed, physically attacked and sexually assaulted.

A report from the state's Racing Integrity Commissioner released on Wednesday detailed accounts of rape, humiliating initiation practices, ritualised violence and grooming in the industry from the 1970s onwards.

Some 38 per cent of survivors who came forward reported harm taking place in the 2020s, and one-third said they were first assaulted before their 18th birthday.

The review highlighted a culture of cover-ups and found victims feared retribution for speaking out about abuse suffered while being involved with Greyhound Racing Victoria, Harness Racing Victoria and Racing Victoria Limited.

The three codes have apologised to survivors, and the $4.7 billion industry has 12 months to act on several recommendations, including a restitution scheme, a plan to prevent further abuse, to revise and update complaint handling processes, and bolster child protections.

Racing Victoria's board will now discuss whether victims should receive compensation, according to the organisation's chief executive Andrew Jones.

"That's not something we've discussed yet at a board level at Racing Victoria, so I can't rule it out," Mr Jones told RSN radio on Thursday.

"The question there is where does the liability sit, number one? And it will be with the perpetrator, who hopefully is not a Racing Victoria person.

"Secondly, then, what's the appropriate thing to do as an industry? So those discussions are ahead of us."

Asked about the high proportion of allegations in recent years, Mr Jones was aware of ongoing issues in some workplaces, and said the racing body would deal with complaints if employers did not address them.

"The issues that arise most commonly are bullying and sexual harassment of a lower level than the sexual assault and serious crimes that are described in the (Racing Integrity Commissioner's) report," Mr Jones said.

He said current issues related to interactions among peers, between owners and stable staff, and within individual stables.

No referrals for criminal prosecution were made within the 78-page report, and Mr Jones said Racing Victoria could not act on anonymous allegations and would instead rely on victims coming forward.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was awaiting a more detailed response to the report from racing bodies, while stressing Victoria Police doesn't need allegations to be referred to launch investigations.

"It would be my expectation that anyone in a position of authority who believes upon reading that report that there are matters that Victoria Police or anyone else should look at, well, then they're free - they may well even be obliged to - refer those matters," he told reporters on Thursday.

"But normally Victoria Police and others are free to investigate matters as they see fit."

Some 71 per cent of survivors who took part in the report were involved in thoroughbred racing, 19 per cent in greyhound racing, nine per cent in harness racing, and one per cent were cross-code.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

Lifeline 13 11 14

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people aged 5 to 25)