Elders agree to meet new commissioner
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.