Labor pledges to probe abuse
Beatrice Thomas and Joseph Catanzaro,
The West Australian
2nd June 2012
Updated 4th June 2012
WA Labor yesterday pledged to hold a royal commission into abuse in State care if it won next year's election as the State Government last night revealed it had investigated 61 allegations of abuse on its watch as part of the Redress WA scheme.
Amid growing claims that the abuse of child migrants in WA was more systemic and widespread than first believed, the Department for Child Protection said allegations of physical, emotional and sexual abuse involved department appointed carers and others.
Department director-general Terry Murphy blamed restrictions under current laws for the fact that 15 people facing child abuse allegations still held valid Working with Children cards.
The department said it was notified of the allegations between January 2009 and last November by the Redress WA scheme for children abused in State care.
"The department immediately assessed each situation where the carer was still registered and took appropriate action including removing children where necessary," Mr Murphy said.
"No children were left with carers where legitimate allegations had been made against that carer."
Police said yesterday they were still assessing some files on the "persons of interest" but the remaining investigations had been finalised.
"You've got to realise that the working with children check is not a licence to work with children," Mr Murphy told Radio 6PR.
"It is merely a clearance that this person has no criminal charges or convictions against them of a sexual or risk-to-children nature. It's a starting point. It's not the end point in protecting children."
He said it was up to sporting and community organisations to take "protective measures" to ensure people posed no risk.
Making the royal commission an election promise, Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said the issues were "too important to be swept under the carpet".
_The West Australian _this week lifted the lid on abuse at several State-run institutions.
Greens MP Alison Xamon said a royal commission could examine if conditions that enabled abuse to occur in the past still existed.
In November, the Government ordered an inquiry into child abuse at State-run boarding hostels. It is due report on July 18.
Premier Colin Barnett said the Government would await the findings of that inquiry.
Child Protection Minister Robyn McSweeney said the Working with Children Act was under review.