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Northern Territory Government Australia

Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse

 

 

 
 

Media Release

Child Abuse Inquiry Findings Released

Friday 15 June 2007

The Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse report was released today by co-chairs Rex Wild QC and Pat Anderson.

The 316-page report contains 97 recommendations for improving the safety of Aboriginal children in the Territory and follows an extensive investigative process that relied heavily on community consultation.

“We have briefed the Chief Minister and Cabinet on the recommendations,” Mr Wild said. “The Chief Minister agreed to make the report and its recommendations available as widely as possible and committed the government to implementing the report.”

The report and a shorter summary document will be available on the Internet from today and copies will be sent to everyone who contributed to the inquiry’s work.

The Inquiry gathered feedback from 262 meetings with individuals, agencies and organisations, visited 45 communities and received 65 written submissions.

In their report, Inquiry co-chairs Rex Wild QC and Pat Anderson highlight two key factors in preventing abuse: education and decreased alcohol consumption.

Education is the key to helping children and communities nurture safe, well-adjusted families,” they said.  “Getting children to school is essential because they are safe while at school, education provides a way to escape the social and economic problems that contribute to violence, and children can confide in their teachers when they are school.”

Tackling alcohol abuse was equally important, they said, as alcohol remains the “gravest and fastest growing threat to the safety of Aboriginal children”.

“There is a strong association between alcohol abuse, violence and sexual abuse of children.  Alcohol is destroying communities,” they said.

Other key recommendations:

  • The need for police and Family and Community Services (FACS) to work more closely together and with communities to build trust;
  • An advice hotline so anyone concerned about possible child sexual abuse can call someone for confidential information and advice;
  • Empowerment of Aboriginal communities, through mechanisms such as community justice groups;
  • The appointment of a Commissioner for Children and Young People who can focus on the interests and well-being of children and young people;
  • A range of education campaigns on child abuse, as well as the impact of alcohol, pornography and gambling on communities, families and children.

The inquiry thanks the staff who provided support, the Expert Reference Group, and the many agencies who contributed written and verbal submissions, the co-chairs said.

“Above all, we thank all the Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory who received us into their communities and shared with us the benefits of their wisdom, experience and knowledge and, in some cases, their sorrow,” Mr Wild said.

Background

The Board of Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse was appointed by the Chief Minister on 8 August 2006.  It was headed by former Northern Territory Director of Public Prosecutions Rex Wild QC and Pat Anderson, a Alyawarr woman with many years’ experience of working in Indigenous health.

The inquiry was asked to:

  • Study how and why Aboriginal children were being abused, focusing on unreported cases;
  • Identify problems with the way government responds to child abuse and attempts to protect children;
  • Look at how government departments and other agencies can better work together to protect and help children;
  • Look at how the government can better support and educate Aboriginal communities to prevent child sexual abuse.

The inquiry completed its work on 30 April 2007.  An advance copy of the report was provided to the Chief Minister while final editing, layout and printing of the report was arranged.

“We provided an advance copy of the report as a courtesy to the Chief Minister so she and key government departments had time to consider the report and prepare advice on key actions before the report was made public,” Mr Wild said.