‘We didn’t talk to any children’: Panel reviewing abuse in detention

Posted January 20th, 2019 by admin and filed in 南京夜网
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An independent expert panel contracted by the Federal government to examine allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation in immigration detention failed to interview any victims, a royal commission has heard.
Nanjing Night Net

The three member Child Protection Panel was convened in 2015 in the wake of two inquiries which raised serious allegations about abuse in detention in Australia and offshore.

Panellist Margaret Allisontold the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse none of the members had recent experience in interviewing children.

“We didn’t talk to any children, except incidentally, as we walked through detention centres,” said the former senior bureaucrat in Queensland’s child protection department.

Ms Allison, former chief executive of the Australian Crime Commission John Lawler??? and former senior Commonwealth public servant Dominic Downie were charged with analysing 214 of the “most serious” alleged incidents involving children in detention between 2008 and 2015.

Ms Allison told the commission the panel was concerned interviewing children might re-traumatise them.

“Some of those incidents would be a long time ago for children and I doubt that some of them would have recollection of things that would have happened when they were very young,” she said.

“For those who did have a memory of things that might have happened to them we were concerned about adding further trauma.

“Also, given the volume of our work, it was fairly clear . . . it would need to be, by and large, a desktop review.”

The panel examined alleged incidents of sexual and physical abuse, neglect and exploitation involving children. The commission heard sexual abuse was involved in about one-quarter of cases in detention centres in Australia and about one-third of cases in community detention and in the regional processing centre in Nauru however Ms Allison said the figures needed to be treated with caution.

“Probably the community detention one was the most concerning,” she said.

“There were matters involving actual sexual assault, grooming and high risk of sexual assault.”

Ms Allison told the commission organisations contracted by the Federal government to support asylum seekers in the community were inadequate.

“The existing service infrastructure for community detention was struggling a bit to deal with the challenges of providing services to children and families,” she said.

The Child Protection Panel finished its report last May but it was not released until December 16 with immigration boss Michael Pezzullo??? telling the commission that its release was delayed while a safeguarding framework was determined.

There are about 240 children in immigration detention in Australia, with the majority in community detention. On Nauru, there are 45 children in the regional processing centre and 130 living in the community on protection visas.

Mr Pezzullo told the commission ensuring the protection of children was one of his “highest priorities”.

The royal commission is holding a four-day hearing into child sexual abuse involving government institutions, including the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the Australian Defence Force as well as state and territory justice and community services departments.

Australian Defence Force vice chief Raymond Griggs told the hearing the cadet organisation had been reformed in the wake of testimony about sex abuse presented at the commission last year.

The hearing, before Justice Peter McClellan, continues.

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