Tasmania's peak netball body only learned of child sex abuse allegations against a former volunteer in October this year, despite the fact that state government ministers were aware of the matter as early as July 2019.
A November 28 email from Netball Tasmania chief executive Aaron Pidgeon addressed to a number of member association presidents shows that it was through journalist Camille Bianchi's podcast in "early to mid" October that the organisation found out about the now deceased James Geoffrey Griffin's alleged offending.
"Since [October], we have been in contact with affiliate associations and state league clubs who are known to have engaged Mr Griffin at any stage," Mr Pidgeon wrote in the email, seen by The Examiner.
Mr Griffin volunteered with the Northern Tasmanian Netball Association (NTNA), the Devon Netball Association and two state league clubs. He was working as a nurse at the Launceston General Hospital when a woman made a complaint about him to police in May last year. He'd met her when she was 11, through a local sporting club where he acted as a masseuse.
After being hit with child sex abuse charges, Mr Griffin died on October 18 last year, before facing trial.
In July 2019, Health Minister Sarah Courtney learned that Mr Griffin's Working with Vulnerable Persons accreditation had been cancelled, while Sport Minister Jane Howlett's department, Communities Tasmania, learned of it in August of that year. Police Minister Mark Shelton was briefed on Tasmania Police's investigation in the same month.
Since [October], we have been in contact with affiliate associations and state league clubs who are known to have engaged Mr Griffin at any stage.Aaron Pidgeon, Netball Tasmania chief executive
Opposition Leader Rebecca White said it was through the government's "thorough negligence" that sporting groups had been put in the "awful position where they now must pick up the pieces".
"This is reprehensible behaviour from the Premier [Peter Gutwein], Mr Shelton and Ms Howlett who had the opportunity to reach out to sporting clubs to help them investigate whether Griffin had any involvement with their organisations and potentially identify survivors of abuse and provide them with support," she said.
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A government spokesperson said Tasmania Police advised that while investigations into Mr Griffin were still ongoing in 2019 "contact was made with the NTNA regarding bail conditions associated with Mr Griffin". The spokesperson did not specify the date contact was made.
In Question Time in the House of Assembly on Thursday, Ms Howlett said the Sport and Recreation division of Communities Tasmania had been in regular contact with Netball Tasmania regarding the Griffin matter. "I have also checked with the chair of the NTNA on the 19th of November to confirm that support already offered to the association by the government was adequate," she said.
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