Statement on Puffing Billy Ombudsman’s Report

Puffing Billy has and always will be an important part of our community.

But over a long period of time, some people associated with Puffing Billy committed horrific crimes – and for too long their crimes and their victims were ignored.

As the local Member for Monbulk this is a matter that has brought me great concern.

Today’s revelations are completely unacceptable and abhorrent. But it is important as community we acknowledge what happened, and come to terms with it.

Even more important is that we act to ensure it can never happen again.

The Government has accepted every recommendation and finding in the report and will begin responding immediately.

The Emerald Tourist Railway Board has resigned and a comprehensive review of the governance and management of Puffing Billy will be undertaken.

A new Board has already met for the first time this afternoon, headed by QC Tim North.

I thank the Ombudsman for her report, and the victims for their courage in coming forward.

A dedicated Centre Against Sexual Assault line has been established to provide support and advice to known victims, and to any other victims who may wish to come forward. That line is available by calling (03) 9594 2289.

A Puffing Billy Response team has also been established within government to work directly with victims to ensure they get the support they need.

I know this report will be hard for everyone involved with Puffing Billy. But it’s important that current staff and volunteers know that this report and the Government’s response are in no way a criticism of them.

Staff and volunteers are the heart and soul of the railway and I want them to know that they have my full support as we move forward.

I look forward to working with the Mr North and the new board as we implement the recommendations of Ombudsman’s report, and grow this iconic railway.

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