Home / World News / Child Protection Minster Simone McGurk conceded safety of sex victims is not guaranteed in Roebourne

Child Protection Minster Simone McGurk conceded safety of sex victims is not guaranteed in Roebourne

Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk believes the “transient nature” of the Roebourne community makes it impossible to guarantee that child sex victims are not coming into contact with offenders.

The admission comes amid questions over what efforts child protection authorities are making to ensure victims are pro-tected, with police giving little detail of a major operation in the region.

Operation Fledermaus was launched in 2016 by WA Police to investigate large-scale sex abuse in the Pilbara. More than 180 victims have been identified and dozens of people have been charged or convicted.

The Opposition said this week that it was considering asking for a parliamentary committee to look into secrecy surrounding the investigation and the identities and whereabouts of offenders.

Writing in The West Australian today, Ms McGurk said shadow child protection minister Nick Goiran was using the issue to score political points.

Ms McGurk said “based on current information”, WA Police had advised it had no evidence of victims residing with charged or convicted offenders.

Simone McGurk says the ‘transient nature’ of the Roebourne community makes guaranteeing safety impossible.
Camera IconSimone McGurk says the ‘transient nature’ of the Roebourne community makes guaranteeing safety impossible.Picture: Justin Benson-Cooper

The Department of Communities had advised the same.

“However, no system we put in place can be perfect,” Ms McGurk said.

“The smallness and closeness of the Roebourne community, the transient nature of its residents, adults and children, the way parental responsibilities and the extended family operates in Aboriginal culture, combined with the sheer number of offences, make it impossible to guarantee that offenders and victims are not in the same place at the same time.”

She said most cases in Roebourne involved a “non-carer” as perpetrator.

Ms McGurk said Federal intervention in the Northern Territory had shown child sexual abuse could not be stopped by sending in the army.

Mr Goiran has repeatedly been rebuffed when asking the State Government for details on whether any child abuse victims and perpetrators were living together.

The State Government said it had offered Mr Goiran a private briefing, which he had refused.

“He has decisively chosen to play this out through the media,” Ms McGurk said.

The West Australian has repeatedly asked for names of those charged but police have refused, making reporting on court cases difficult.

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