Elders agree to meet new com­mis­sioner

Pilbara News - - News - Gabrielle Knowles and Ali­cia Per­era

Roe­bourne com­mu­nity mem­bers and so­cial ser­vices say pos­i­tive work is be­ing done to ad­dress the is­sue of child sex­ual abuse in their area, the scale of which out­go­ing WA Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Karl O’Cal­laghan last week la­belled as “fright­en­ing”. In an opin­ion piece pub­lished in

The West Aus­tralian last Tues­day, Mr Cal­laghan said an on­go­ing Pil­bara Dis­trict Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the is­sue had re­sulted in 36 peo­ple be­ing charged with more than 300 of­fences and raised an­other 124 sus­pects in Roe­bourne and sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

Mark McGowan re­sponded by say­ing he would despatch in­com­ing com­mis­sioner Chris Daw­son to Roe­bourne as his first pri­or­ity to ad­dress the is­sue next month.

Roe­bourne el­der Toot­sie Daniels said while she was “dis­ap­pointed” there had been no con­sul­ta­tion with elders be­fore the com­mis­sioner had made his com­ments, they were pre­pared to meet with Mr Daw­son and dis­cuss col­lab­o­ra­tive ways to pro­tect lo­cal chil­dren from harm. “When he comes, we’ll be pre­pared,” she said.

She said more meet­ings with elders, who knew their com­mu­nity and its chil­dren best, was needed.

Depart­ment of Child Pro­tec­tion and Fam­ily Sup­port and Depart­ment of Com­mu­ni­ties as­sis­tant di­rec­tor-gen­eral Jackie Tang said they had set up a spe­cial­ist group in the Pil­bara to co-or­di­nate re­sponses to child sex­ual abuse cases and pro­vide on­go­ing sup­port.

“The group in­cludes rep­re­sen­ta­tives from State and Fed­eral gov­ern­ment agen­cies, and lo­cal Abo­rig­i­nal med­i­cal ser­vices, to en­sure that the chil­dren in­volved and their fam­i­lies re­ceive cul­tur­ally ap­pro­pri­ate and timely sup­port,” she said.

A num­ber of cen­tres in Roe­bourne run en­gage­ment ac­tiv­i­ties and safe-space pro­grams for lo­cal chil­dren, one of which is Roe­bourne PCYC.

Cen­tre man­ager Sa­man­tha Corn­th­waite said they pro­vided a safe en­vi­ron­ment for lo­cal chil­dren to ex­press them­selves without fear.

Any­one af­fected by child sex­ual abuse can con­tact Cri­sis Care on 1800 199 008 or Life­line on 13 11 14.

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