MINISTERIAL STATEMENT: ONLINE PREDATORY BEHAVIOUR

Extracted from Hansard- House of Assembly 23 September 2020

I seek leave to make a ministerial statement.

Leave granted.

Yesterday, I was asked about the timing of who knew about the 13-year-old girl being a victim of a predator and, in particular, when the Chief Executive of Child Protection, my office or myself became aware. These questions were and are distasteful and insensitive. When the chief executive or I knew about this incident is irrelevant to ensuring adequate care and support was provided to this young girl.

I thank the frontline social workers and all who supported and cared for this girl during this difficult time. Once I learned the young person's name, I was able to instruct my office to search any records relating to her case. No records exist or were ever received. My office has also conducted a search for general terms relating to this matter.

In May, I received general correspondence regarding unlawful sexual intercourse with minors and associated criminal penalties. The focus of this correspondence was the criminal penalties associated with offending of this nature. A reference was made to more than one young person, one of whom was in guardianship. It did not refer to a failure of care or identify the specific circumstances.

This matter was appropriately referred to the Attorney-General's office, and I am advised that the Attorney responded. I reiterate: at no stage was any concern raised with me about the care provided to this girl. I further repeat: my staff and I were made aware of the specific circumstances last week following the sentencing of this offender.