Three reports below:
Rape of ten year old kept quiet for three weeks by child safety authorities
Just blacks being blacks, you know (!)
The Queensland Government is investigating allegations that child safety authorities failed to alert police that a 10-year-old girl was repeatedly raped in a Cape York community. Child Safety Minister Mike Reynolds has ordered his department's ethical standards unit to investigate the allegations that the matter was known about for three weeks before police were notified.
Acting Premier Anna Bligh said today the Government was "very concerned" by the allegations and would take every step to get to the bottom of the incident. "Any allegations (about) possible harm to children should be reported to the appropriate authorities, including where appropriate police, as soon as that comes to their attention," Ms Bligh said. "Clearly children need government departments to be acting co-operatively, whether it is Child Safety, Queensland Health, Queensland Police or any other agencies that this matter might come to their attention." Ms Bligh said the matter would be referred to the Crime and Misconduct Commission if the investigation recommended as such.
But Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg said an internal investigation would not suffice. "There needs to be a proper independent investigation of this and the information in the report should be made publicly available," Mr Springborg said. He said only two and a half years ago Premier Peter Beattie had called a state election in order to protect the kids. "If children under the supervision, or with the knowledge of the Department of Child Safety, had been repeatedly raped for three weeks ... I can just say that in Queensland things have got decidedly worse."
Inquiry into black sex abuse
The Northern Territory Government has launched an inquiry into child sex abuse in indigenous communities after allegations of pedophilia and sex slavery. The ABC's Lateline program last night broadcast allegations that indigenous men in central Australia were keeping girls as young as five as sex slaves. An unnamed former youth worker at Mutitjulu, near Uluru, said some men were were offering young girls petrol to sniff in exchange for sex. The worker said he had been intimidated by the alleged abusers into withdrawing his complaints to police. "It's true that there are predatory men in the central deserts who are systematically abusing young children," he said. The NT Government yesterday announced an inquiry into child sex abuse across the territory's Aboriginal communities, while police vowed to investigate the allegations involving Mutitjulu, where petrol sniffing is rife. "It's time to break through the fear, silence and shame about what's happening in the bush," NT Chief Minister Clare Martin said. "Too many families are being destroyed by child abuse. We must draw a line in the sand and get all the facts and act on them."
STDs rife in indigenous children
Sexually transmitted diseases are spreading rapidly through Australia's indigenous toddlers and children as the hidden tragedy of child abuse becomes a broader health crisis for the nation. With federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough standing by his claim that pedophile rings are operating in central Australia, Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin yesterday ordered an inquiry into the abuse of children in Australia's most disadvantaged communities. But new figures reveal child abuse and poor indigenous health is not confined to the Territory, with the number of Aboriginal children in Western Australia infected with STDs doubling in the past five years.
According to West Australian Health Department statistics, 708 children under 14 had been infected with the diseases since 2001. And almost 80 per cent of the victims were Aboriginal. Of those, 19 were toddlers and preschoolers under the age of four. In the Kimberley region in the state's far northwest, four children aged under four had been infected with chlamydia or gonorrhoea last year. STD rates are also high in other states, as the culture of silence over sexual abuse, coupled with a lack of support services and indigenous disadvantage, continues to blight the next generation of Aboriginal men and women.
While The Australian and other media outlets have been casting light on the issue for years, doubts remain over the official response to the crisis, with the NSW Government under fire yesterday for sitting on a damning report on Aboriginal child abuse and the Queensland Government investigating claims its child safety department was too slow to respond to complaints a 10-year-old girl had been raped on Cape York.
Ms Martin is today expected to name the head of the NT inquiry she hopes will "break through the fear and the shame and the silence we see about child sex abuse in our communities". "We have failed to prosecute child sex abuse," Ms Martin said yesterday. "We have failed because we couldn't get people to come forward as witnesses. Police have done work in those communities and we can't get the evidence, we can't get people to step forward - and that's what this inquiry is about."
Mr Brough, who has called a summit on indigenous disadvantage for Monday, last night declared the victims could not wait for another inquiry to report. "You would hope that anything that is going to shine the light on what is a desperate situation is positive but what we need right now is action and that's what I hope to achieve in co-operation with the states and territories on Monday," Mr Brough said.
Melva Kennedy, a member of the Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault Task Force in NSW, said it was a misconception that systematic sexual abuse within indigenous communities was confined to remote areas. "It happens all over the place, all over Australia, not just the outback" said Ms Kennedy, who has worked in the field of child protection for the past 20 years. "I know of incidents of sexual abuse in communities in the cities, in country towns, and in the outback."
The NT inquiry was called amid a heated row between Mr Brough and territory authorities over allegations of child abuse at Mutitjulu, an Aboriginal community in the shadow of Uluru that the Chief Minister describes as one of the most dysfunctional in the Northern Territory. Mr Brough claimed his department had sent a "full report" to NT police about the Mutitjulu allegations raised on Wednesday night on the ABC's Lateline.
But Deputy Police Commissioner Bruce Wernham said yesterday that Alice Springs police had only received an anonymous fax in February that contained "general intelligence", was unsigned and written on a plain piece of paper. Mr Wernham said police had been aware of some of the allegations but could not gather enough evidence to act. He said just four cases of sexual abuse had been reported at Mutitjulu since 2002, including one involving children. "An allegation is one thing, but following that up and getting hard evidence is totally another," he said. "That's where we really rely on the goodwill of individuals." Mr Brough last night defended his actions and maintained that police were able to use information he passed on as intelligence. Police have formed a taskforce to investigate the claims at Mutitjulu.
In NSW, Attorney-General Bob Debus is still sitting on a report, delivered to the Government three months ago, on Aboriginal child sexual abuse in NSW. The report is understood to find that child sexual assault has reached "epidemic proportions" in Aboriginal communities in NSW, and is four times more prevalent than in the general community. It says the assaults have led to high levels of mental illness in communities, but that victims rarely come forward due to fear of retribution. Ms Kennedy, a member of the taskforce that produced the report, said she was frustrated at the lack of action.
Despite publicity over the Cape York case in Queensland, and claims violence has gone unchecked in the state's indigenous communities, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie yesterday said his Government had already held an inquiry into the abuse of Aboriginal children and would not convene a second one. Mr Beattie said the inquiry by Tony Fitzgerald led to alcohol management plans and that a forum and a follow-up inquiry had also fostered a new child protection system.
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