Police claim abuse cover-up

QUEENSLAND government ministers ordered Department of Child Safety workers not to tell police about hundreds of cases of suspected child abuse and neglect on Cape York following a row over the gang rape of a 10-year-old girl at the Aboriginal community of Aurukun.

The explosive claim is contained in a record of interview by investigators with a senior child protection specialist police officer, which was obtained by The Australian yesterday.

An investigative review team - led by the state's Crime and Misconduct Commission - was tasked with determining why the department took the 10-year-old girl from a safe foster home in Cairns and returned her to the Aurukun community, where she was subsequently gang-raped in May last year, and then failed to promptly alert police of the crime.

The review team heard that hundreds of reports of children being sexually abused and neglected in Cape York communities last year were kept from police by Child Safety officers, who had been directed not to pass the reports to police or even talk to them.

According to the team's 400-page report, Detective Sergeant David Harold from Cairns Child Protection Investigation Unit told the team that police became aware of "numerous child protection issues through the Cape we hadn't been advised of".

While there have been numerous cases where child safety officers had failed to pass evidence to police, Sergeant Harold said: "It got to a political level at that stage where I believe ministers got involved and certain people were told not to speak to police. My job was to track down each (medical) clinic in the Cape and I got that under way ... but then there was some political issues where a directive came from Brisbane (that) 'You are not allowed to talk to the police - don't tell them anything'."

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