Child sexually abused in residential care

Child Protection Party

A spate of reports in recent times about children being sexually abused (with some getting pregnant) whilst in the care of the Department of Child Protection (SA) have resulted in claims that Minster Rachel Sanderson and DCP head Cathy Taylor were “unaware” of the incidents. 

Recently a parent whose children are in residential care approached the Child Protection Party concerned that her daughter was sexually assaulted while in the care of the Department. The Party acknowledges that Minister Sanderson and DCP head Taylor are concerned about any abuse which occurs in the Department.  

This child is 11 and her abuser is a 16-year-old male. Our understanding is that he is known for his aggression and abusive behaviour. The parent told us that even though there was a record of the abuse they have not been informed of any action taken by the Department. They have been made aware that the perpetrator is still housed within the same residential care facility. The girl is fearful of the perpetrator and is suffering from anxiety and stress as a result of the abuse. The parents have not been informed as to whether counselling has been provided for the victim. 

Party leader, Tony Tonkin BSW AMHSW MAASW, has met with the parents on a number of occasions and discussed in detail the reasons why the children were removed. It is his professional opinion that the issues which caused the children to be removed have been addressed and that they are no longer present or at least being managed. The abuse of this child would not have happened in the care of the parents. 

It is a failing of the system that would allow a vulnerable 11-year-old child to have any contact with an abusive 16-year-old male. The Department is overzealous when evaluating who parents associate with yet are unable to apply the same standard in residential care facilities. 

The Party knows that urging the Minister and DCP to return these children to their parents will fall on deaf ears. However, it is important to acknowledge that a child being abused while in the care of the Government is not acceptable and needs to be investigated. The system that would allow a child to be abused needs to be changed and the only way that this can occur is for an investigation into the circumstances which lead to the abuse of this young girl.  

The Child Protection Party is looking forward to a response from Minister Sanderson and DCP Head Taylor. 

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