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Tasmanian commission of inquiry report into institutional child sexual abuse released | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey


Premier Jeremy Rockliff has made public the findings from the long-awaited Tasmanian commission of inquiry into child sexual abuse.

The moment is a turning point in the long road for justice for the many victim-survivors who have come forward to tell their stories of abuse at the hands of paedophile teachers, nurses, carers or others working within state institutions.

In tabling the report, Mr Rockliff thanked all the victim-survivors of child abuse who shared their personal experiences through the commission of inquiry for their strength and courage.

He acknowledged the suffering of victim-survivors who were abused by the very people who were supposed to care for them, and the failure by the system that was meant to protect them.

Live updates

3m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 2:28am

By Daniel Miller

‘Missed opportunities’ to stop paedophile nurse James Griffin over almost 20 years

One of the case studies the commission examined was that of James Griffin, a paedophile nurse who worked in the children’s ward at the Launceston General Hospital.

In the report the commissioners said:

“Over the course of Mr Griffin’s offending, there were numerous and consequential missed opportunities — by Launceston General Hospital, Tasmania Police and Child Safety Services — to intervene earlier.

“The number and scale of findings we make in this case study is reflective of the magnitude of the failures to keep children and young people safe from Mr Griffin for almost 20 years, until he was finally suspended from his employment in mid-2019 after losing his registration to work with vulnerable people following a police report.”

They also said the findings reflected a series of response failures in the systems and processes and in the conduct of individuals once Griffin’s offending was known.

The commissioners found the Launceston General Hospital leadership “collectively failed to address a toxic culture” in the children’s ward “that enabled James Griffin’s offending to continue and prevented his conduct being reported”.

6m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 2:25am

By Daniel Miller

Opposition leader speaks of ‘shocking failures’

Labor leader Rebecca White took to the floor of parliament after Mr Rockliff concluded his statement.

I’ll bring you a little of that now (while we’re also currently going through the report and bringing you important takeaways from that).

Ms White starts off saying:

“The tabling of this commission of inquiry report today is an historic, important and emotional moment.

“It is, to quote the Commissioner for Children and Young People Leanne McLean, a watershed moment for the realisation of the rights of children and young people to be protected from harm and abuse.

“Because there is nothing more important than the safety and well being of our children.

“And we know just how badly our children have been let down by the shocking failures in our government institutions, our schools, our hospitals, our home care system, and our youth justice system.

“Mr. Speaker, every child deserves to be loved to be cared for and protected from harm, which is why the extent of the abuse suffered by so many children in government institutions is so distressing.”

13m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 2:19am

By Daniel Miller

Commissioners warn of ‘tragedy’ if their report is filed and forgotten

The commissioners want to see a “powerful and immediate response” from the government, in the report they say:

“We share the hopes we heard in evidence from victim-survivors, and their families, carers and supporters, that our inquiry will lead to meaningful change that benefits Tasmania and its children and young people.

The Tasmanian Government has said it will implement our recommendations, and we expect this.

It would be a tragedy if our report were treated as the product of ‘just another inquiry’, to file and forget.

The cost to taxpayers, the trust of the community and the toll on victim-survivors and whistleblowers that comes from sharing their experiences requires that the Tasmanian Government commits to a powerful and immediate response.”

16m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 2:15am

By Daniel Miller

Commissioners: Problems not addressed ‘over many years’

In their report, the commissioners said their work included reviewing “many previous Tasmanian reports and inquiries into out-of-home care, the health system and Ashley Youth Detention Centre”

This work “identified problems that have not been addressed over many years”.

They also said some key recommendations of the national child sexual abuse royal commission — which handed down its final report in December 2017 — were still in the early implementation stages.

19m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 2:13am

By Daniel Miller

Key reforms recommended by the commission

The commission has recommended several key reforms including:

  • A new, strengthened regulator and advocate for children and young people’s rights and safety;
  • A more coordinated and statewide response to child sexual abuse and harmful sexual behaviours;
  • Increasing participation of children and young people, victim-survivors and service providers in policy design and delivery;
  • Stronger mechanisms for institutions to protect children in institutions from adults who pose a risk to them;
  • Showing greater care, compassion and investment in protecting and healing marginalised children;
  • Ensuring staff and volunteers working with children have the knowledge and skills they need;
  • Valuing and strengthening the skills and expertise of those working in the child safety and youth justice systems;
  • That reform is monitored.
22m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 2:10am

By Daniel Miller

Four key commission of inquiry conclusions

The commission’s overall conclusions from the report are:

  1. 1.The Tasmanian government’s response to allegations and incidents of child sexual abuse in institutions since 2000 had too often been inadequate.
  2. 2.Tasmanian government institutions are generally safe for children and young people but some children are not safe and more needs to be done to improve their safety.
  3. 3.The Tasmanian government does not often enough have the right systems in place to effectively address the risks and respond to incidents of child sexual abuse in institutions into the future.
  4. 4.The Tasmanian government does not often enough have a culture that encourages feedback, reporting, monitoring and reflection when responding to incidents of child sexual abuse.
24m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 2:08am

By Daniel Miller

Commission of inquiry report available online

The full 3,500-page report is now available on the commission’s website.

It’s going to take a long time for us to cover the full thing over the coming days, but you can start taking a look yourself.

Click here if you want to jump straight to the recommendations.

28m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 2:04am

By Daniel Miller

All out-of-home care to be outsourced to non-government sector

This is one of the key recommendations from the commission of inquiry.

Mr Rockliff:

“The commissioners recommended that all out-of-home care be outsourced to the non-government sector, allowing the Department of Education, Children and Young People to focus on monitoring and leading the development of a whole-of-sector a strategic plan and policy framework.

To achieve this, we will build on the long-term partnerships we have with our highly valued out-of-home care providers and carriers to ensure we keep the safety, stability and wellbeing of children and young people at the forefront of all decisions we make.”

32m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 2:00am

By Daniel Miller

Commission recommends new framework to keep children safe

The premier says the government passed legislation in May this year to establish the Tasmanian Child and Youth Safe Organisations framework, which the commission says will be central to ensuring children are kept safe in the future.

The new framework will come into effect from next year. Here’s a bit more detail from Mr Rockliff:

“The framework will require organisations to take specific steps to keep children safe and respond effectively reduce incidence of harm occur.”

He also says other governance structures will be reviewed including the formation of a new advisory council to “enable representatives of key groups to speak directly to our state’s leaders as we develop a child-safe future.”

38m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 1:53am

By Daniel Miller

Tasmania’s institutions didn’t effectively manage risks to children

The premier says the report found Tasmanian government institutions were “generally safe for children and young people” but that more can be done.

The commission found that “institutions did not effectively manage active risks to children and young people, or extend adequate care where they disclose abuse,” Mr Rockliff says.

“The commission found that not often enough are our systems effective to address the risks and respond to child sexual abuse in institutions…”

44m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 1:47am

By Daniel Miller

Applause from victim-survivors as government makes no redactions to the report

Victim-survivors in the public gallery loudly applauded when the premier said the government would make no further redactions to the commission’s report, even though it has the power to do so before it’s released.

The only redactions in the report are those requested by the commission itself. The premier pledged to publish those redactions once “relevant criminal proceedings” have run their course.

48m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 1:43am

By Daniel Miller

Report outlines allegations against 34 people

Mr Rockliff says of the more than 100 people referred to authorities during the course of the inquiry, there are allegations outlined against 34 individuals in the report.

The scope of these allegations extends from serious criminal allegations to allegations relating to disciplinary matters, such as alleged breaches of the state service code of conduct.

For legal and privacy reasons, we’re not able to release detailed information at this stage.

But I want to assure the public that our law enforcement regulatory, and other agencies are aware of each and every one of these persons that have been identified to date.

52m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 1:39am

By Daniel Miller

Rockliff: We failed you

The premier has again pledged to implement all 191 recommendations of the commission of inquiry:

I want to reiterate the apology this parliament gave on the 8th of November last year to victim-survivors of child sexual abuse into Tasmanian Government institutions.

We are deeply sorry to all those who have suffered abuse in Tasmanian institutions and to your families and loved ones.

We failed you.

We are all accountable.

And we are sorry.

And we know that words are not enough. Today I reaffirm our government’s commitment to implement every one of the Commission’s 191 recommendations.

55m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 1:36am

By Daniel Miller

Rockliff: Thank you for your strength and courage

The premier is on his feet tabling the report:

Our state is deeply indebted to you for your bravery and coming forward and speaking to the commission in the hope that the abuse and injustice that you ever suffered never happens again.

I also wish to acknowledge the courage of all past and current staff who have come forward to the commission of inquiry to talk about their experiences.

59m agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 1:32am

By Daniel Miller

Premier Jeremy Rockliff is about to speak

1h agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 1:19am

By Daniel Miller

What have victim-survivors told the commission?

The commission has heard of how paedophile nurse James Griffin was left to operate inside Launceston General Hospital’s children’s ward, how school children were not believed while predatory teachers were moved to new roles, and about widescale abuse facing youth detainees in a “monster” prison.

The inquiry heard not just from victim-survivors but from insiders and department bosses, with many grilled about why abuse was allowed to flourish with no action being taken to stop it.

Witnesses bravely told their stories over nine weeks of hearings last year and you can read some of their stories below.

1h agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 1:14am

By Daniel Miller

‘It started with a phone call’: The story behind hit podcast that exposed a monster

“It started with a phone call”, begins Camille Bianchi’s award-winning podcast The Nurse.

Over eight episodes in late 2020, Ms Bianchi documented the crimes and horrors committed by paedophile nurse James Griffin.

You might know the podcast, but do you know how it started?

Nurse Will Gordon, a colleague of Griffin’s, who had been fighting inside the hospital bureaucracy to have Griffin’s crimes exposed called journalist Ms Bianchi.

“In that call he just said, ‘I’ve got a story for you’, and he described something that sounded too odd to be true…”

You can continue reading about it below:

1h agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 1:10am

By Daniel Miller

How it started: Victim-survivor Tiffany Skeggs reported nurse James Griffin’s abuse in 2019

While the commission of inquiry covered many institutions, the first step that began this journey was victim-survivor Tiffany Skeggs reporting the abuse she suffered at the hands of Launceston nurse James Griffin. This started off a train of events that helped lead to today.

Ms Skeggs first met Griffin when she was 11 and he was 58, with the older man volunteering as a medic for netball competitions.

Ms Skeggs talks about thinking she was Griffin’s only victim, but it was when she saw him again years later in 2019 at the netball courts surrounded by children that she went to police.

“Something in me just clicked. I didn’t have a choice anymore. I felt like the only hope that they had to not live the life that I did.”

It would turn out that Griffin had many more victims.

You can read more about Ms Skegg’s story below.

1h agoTue 26 Sep 2023 at 1:07am

By Daniel Miller

What you need to know

What’s happening?
  • The commission of inquiry report will be tabled in state parliament at 11:30am.
  • Upon tabling the report, Premier Jeremy Rockliff will make a statement to parliament.
  • It will then be open to other MPs to make speeches until about 12:45pm.
Can I watch?

Where can I read the report?

  • It’ll be published on the commission of inquiry website after Premier Jeremy Rockliff finishes speaking, about 12pm.
  • It’ll be a massive document with 3,500 pages and 191 recommendations to read through.

View more posts

He said it was time for change and has again committed the government to implement all 191 recommendations from the inquiry.

Mr Rockliff then apologised to victim-survivors for the “appalling abuse to children” perpetrated while in state care.

“We are deeply sorry to all those who have suffered abuse in Tasmanian institutions and to your families and loved ones, we failed you,” he said.

“We know that words are not enough. Today, I reaffirm our government’s commitment in front of everyone … to implement every one of the Commission’s 191 recommendations.”

The document has been made available online. 

Details of the report

The Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard from victim-survivors, public servants and experts over nine weeks of public hearings.

The Commission wrapped up last month after more than two years and has already begun making an impact, with more than 100 people already referred to Tasmania Police or child protection as a result of its work.

The contents of the 3,500-page report is the culmination of years of trauma, with lives destroyed and reputations shattered from the goings-on described in its pages.

The report is so expansive it makes 191 recommendations covering various institutions, including Launceston General Hospital, the state’s Education Department, Ashley Youth Detention Centre and out-of-home care.

Tiffany Skeggs, Kylee Pearn, Katrina Munting and Sam Leishman were some of the victim-survivors to tell their stories to the commission.(ABC News)

Victim-survivors, who were often either not believed or felt unable to tell their stories, have been able to deliver shocking testimony to the commission, including:

You can read more stories from the commission here. 

Even before its official release of the report, the inquiry has referred more than 100 people to police and child protection authorities.(ABC News: Matthew Growcott)

How did we get here?

There have been calls for a commission of inquiry — Tasmania’s version of a royal commission — into child sexual abuse for 20 years.

Pressure for an inquiry intensified after The Nurse podcast revealed a paedophile nurse had worked on the Launceston General Hospital children’s ward for almost two decades, with the hospital failing to heed repeated warnings.

Allegations of abuse within public schools and the Ashley Youth Detention Centre were coming to light about the same time.

Allegations of abuse in out-of-home care also continued to emerge, some through applications to the National Redress Scheme.

In the face of these allegations, then-premier Peter Gutwein — who crossed the floor to vote with the Greens for a commission of inquiry back in 2003 — announced there would finally be one.

While the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was an important turning point nationally, it did not look specifically at Tasmanian government institutions.

The commission of inquiry’s focus has been on the Launceston General Hospital, Ashley Youth Detention Centre, state schools and out-of-home care, and on allegations of abuse since 2000.

This article contains content that is only available in the web version.

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