Royal Commission Criticizes QAS, Swimming Australia’s Handling of Volkers Scandal

Australia’s Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse issued a scathing report Monday, criticizing both the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) and Swimming Australia for their handling of the Scott Volkers scandal, which surfaced in 2014.

Volkers was a former elite-level swimming coach in Australia, having trained superstars Samantha Riley and Susie O’Neill. Volkers was charged in 2002 with indecent treatment of three former female swimmers he had coached back in the 1980s.

But the charges against Volkers were dropped before the trial. The Royal Commission was looking into the case in 2014 when one of the victims claimed she was told by then-Director of Public Prosecutions that Volkers was too high-profile of a person to target with a publicly-funded lawsuit.

Now, the Royal Commission has published a report highly critical of the way the Queensland Academy of Sport and Swimming Australia handled the situation.

You can read a summary of the report here. The Royal Commission reports that Volkers was put on restricted duties while the case proceeded, but was reinstated to his full duties when the charges were dropped. The Royal Commission alleges that at the time the Queensland Academy of Sport reinstated Volkers, it knew that he was the subject of “serious allegations of child sexual abuse,” that QAS “did not take any steps to find out the details of those allegations,” and that QAS “knew that Mr. Volkers could come into contact and have access to children in the course of his employment.”

The Royal Commission also notes that after the charges were dropped, Volkers was named National Women’s Head Coach of Australian Swimming, and reports that Volkers underwent no screening, and none was even considered, before he was appointed to the national position.

The Royal Commission report also criticizes the handling of two other situations in which a coach was accused of sexual abuse against a child – a 2009 case involving Terrence Buck and a 2014 allegation against Stephen Roser.

Swimming Australia hasn’t yet responded to an e-mail for comment.

Volkers was eventually denied a “blue card” in Australia, which left him legally unable to coach children. He subsequently moved to Brazil, where he continued coaching. Last summer, Volkers was named as part of the Brazilian coaching delegation for the Pan Pacific Championships, but Swimming Australia denied him a credential to coach at the meet, which was hosted in Australia.

The full Royal Commission report is here.

Leave a Reply

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

Read More »