Resources curb child abuse fix
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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