ACT News


Scout master's file referred to abuse royal commission

Accusations a scout leader interfered with several children in Canberra and Sydney during the 1980s will be referred to the royal commission on child sexual abuse.

Scouts Australia will refer a file on the scout leader Paul Hayes to the commission, the ABC's 7.30 program reported on Thursday.

The report said the organisation made no report of the accusations to police at the time, citing the wishes of most of the boys' parents.

The Canberra Times has reported on the tarnished past of ACT Scouts, whose chief commissioner Peter Harris said the organisation was now ''hyper sensitive'' to cases of suspected paedophilia.

''We've got as many safeguards as we can without tying everyone in cotton wool,'' Mr Harris said in November. ''Misbehaviour is just not tolerated. We're training our leaders, we're watchful of our leaders, we have reviews regularly to see how people are going, we have people visiting different sections, and we have people in charge of those sections to make sure everything is all right.''

Mr Harris was unable to comment when contacted on Thursday.


The ABC reported Hayes was involved with the 15th Canberra troop when the first accusation against him surfaced in the 1980s. His permit to act as a scout official was suspended for six weeks, and he

was appointed leader of a troop in Sydney within months.

The program also featured an account by victim Steven Cox, who said he was disgusted by the Scouts' failure to report the matters to police. Claiming he had been abused by Hayes in 1984, Mr Cox described the matter as a ''cover up'', stating he had documents showing a number of complaints had been lodged within the organisation.

The ABC said Mr Cox reported Hayes to NSW police in 2008 and discovered Hayes has already served a jail term for the inappropriate touching of a minor in 2002. Mr Cox's testimony reportedly led to Hayes serving two more years in jail after a jury in 2010 found him guilty of five counts of indecent assault and one count of attempted illegal intercourse.

A Scouts Australia spokesman said the organisation has a ''zero-tolerance'' policy for any kind of abuse and police checks are compulsory for all scout leaders.

The Scouts Australia Twitter account also posted links to its website, declaring the organisation's support for the royal commission.