Response To Puffing Billy Ombudsman’s Report

Published: 25 June 2018

On Monday 25 June 2018, the Victorian Ombudsman tabled a report on her investigation into Victorian railway organisations and their historical involvement with convicted child sex offender, Robert Kingsley Whitehead (the Report). 

The Ombudsman's report sheds light on the systematic failure by multiple railway organisations, including the Emerald Tourist Railway Board, to either ignore, fail to identify and fail to notify police of serious child sexual abuse allegations. The Report found serious issues associated with the current board and governance structure at Puffing Billy Railway.

The Victorian Government has accepted all conclusions and recommendations handed down by the Ombudsman in full, and acknowledges it must take responsibility for the wrongdoings in the past by ensuring policies and procedures are put in place which best protect the welfare of children.

A copy of the report is available on the Victorian Ombudsman's website at www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au

The Victorian Government has also issued a media statement

Support and contact details:

  • Victims of child sexual abuse committed in connection with Victorian railway organisations can access the Victorian Government's specialised support service on (03) 9594 2289.  This free service is run by the Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA) and provides confidential counselling for individuals, their families and other affected parties.  If the Ombudsman's report raises any issues for you, please contact this service.
  • Support for other victims of sexual abuse is also available through the CASA and Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292.
  • Victims of institutional child sexual abuse seeking free legal advice can contact knowmore on 1800 605 762.  knowmore can provide information and advice about the justice and redress options that may be available, including the National Redress Scheme.
  • All allegations of child abuse should be reported to Victoria Police's Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams (SOCITs) through any local police station or through the Victoria Police website www.police.vic.gov.au.
  • For enquiries concerning the Victorian Government's response to the Ombudsman's report, access to records or participation in the apology process, you may contact the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources Special Project Unit on 1800 951 095 or puffingbilly.enquiries@ecodev.vic.gov.au.