Re­sources curb child abuse fix

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Ali­cia Per­era

A lack of child in­ter­view rooms and re­lated re­sources is pre­sent­ing an on­go­ing prob­lem in at­tempts to crack down on of­fences against chil­dren, Pil­bara po­lice and com­mu­nity ser­vice or­gan­i­sa­tions say.

With no spe­cialised child in­ter­view rooms avail­able in Kar­ratha or Roe­bourne, po­lice are mak­ing do with spare space in com­mu­nity build­ings when in­ter­view­ing pos­si­ble child vic­tims of abuse.

It comes af­ter a week in which West Pil­bara De­tec­tives and Roe­bourne po­lice charged three Roe­bourne men with child sex of­fences.

A 52-year-old man was charged with two counts of sex­ual pen­e­tra­tion of a child over 13 and un­der 16 years old and one count of in­de­cent deal­ing with a child over 13 and un­der 16 years old.

A 39-year-old man and a 45-yearold man have each been charged with one count of in­de­cent deal­ing with a child over 13 and un­der 16.

The cases are un­re­lated. West Pil­bara de­tec­tives De­tec­tive-Se­nior Con­sta­ble Gina Horch, who spe­cialises in child abuse case­work, said while of­fences were not nec­es­sar­ily more pro­lific in the Pil­bara than in other parts of the State, it was a se­ri­ous is­sue lo­cal po­lice were tar­get­ing.

She said it was of­ten dif­fi­cult to do so in re­gional ar­eas.

“The sup­port ser­vices that are avail­able in Perth are not nec­es­sar­ily avail­able up here for vic­tims,” she said. “We’d al­ways like more re­sources ... but it’s a mat­ter of fi­nanc­ing ev­ery­thing.”

Kar­ratha and Roe­bourne po­lice sta­tions each have sev­eral of­fi­cers qual­i­fied to in­ter­view chil­dren on staff, but to do so they have to use two com­mu­nity build­ings — one in Kar­ratha and one in Roe­bourne — whose own­ers vol­un­teer their space.

The in­ter­view room agree­ments and fund­ing for two por­ta­ble video

cam­eras on tripods used to record in­ter­views were fa­cil­i­tated with the help of Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Aus­tralia Pil­bara sev­eral months ago.

RDA Pil­bara chief ex­ec­u­tive Diane Pentz said RDA Pil­bara had also started a Child Health and Well­be­ing Fo­rum and had or­gan­ised for WA Com­mis­sioner for Chil­dren and Young Peo­ple Colin Pet­tit to bring a child safety sem­i­nar to Kar­ratha in Novem­ber.

La­bor Mem­ber for the Min­ing and Pas­toral Re­gion and shadow minister for child pro­tec­tion Stephen Daw­son agreed there was a rel­a­tive lack of re­sources.

“There are lim­ited re­sources avail­able in the Pil­bara to al­low WA Po­lice and the Depart­ment for Child Pro­tec­tion to prop­erly in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions of child abuse,” he said.

Mr Daw­son said the Pil­bara es­pe­cially needed more child pro­tec­tion work­ers to deal with greater num­bers of chil­dren com­ing into care and with more com­plex needs.

Depart­ment for Child Pro­tec­tion and Fam­ily Sup­port direc­tor-gen­eral Emma White said the depart­ment and WA Po­lice worked to­gether when chil­dren dis­closed cases of abuse or harm. DCPFS also funds child abuse treat­ment ser­vices in Roe­bourne and South Hed­land. Any­one who is or has been the vic­tim of child sex­ual abuse, or has in­for­ma­tion about some­one be­ing abused, can con­tact po­lice on 131 444.

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