State wards being groomed for prostitution by paedophile gangs
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Note: Anything is better for DHS than these children being with their parents?
Veteran child protection workers say they’re powerless to protect wards of the state from sexual exploitation. Source: ThinkStock
ORGANISED gangs of paedophiles are grooming state wards as young as 12 for prostitution.
Veteran child protection workers have told the Herald Sun they are powerless to protect the children in their care and that the sexual exploitation of state wards is “endemic”.
Older teens groom youngsters on behalf of predators in return for money and drugs.
Victoria Police has set up a taskforce to investigate a gang of Afghani men in Dandenong suspected of preying on teens in care.
Senior child protection workers have told the Herald Sun the gang has sexually abused girls in care in Dandenong, Shepparton and Melbourne’s west.
Earlier this year a 16-year old girl living in care was driven to NSW by the gang, where she had sex several men in return for drugs. She also alleged she was raped.
Authorities later paid for her to fly back to Melbourne.
A senior manager working for an agency that manages residential units for teens in care said more than 80 per cent of the girls living in care are being sexually exploited.
She said a lack of funding, that resulted in residential units being staffed by only one worker in the evening and at night, was putting children at risk.
“We need two staff, so that one can go and collect children when they need it,” she said.
Another senior manager working in Melbourne’s west said a lack of appropriate beds was putting children’s lives in danger.
“Younger kids are being placed with older kids who are grooming them for sexual activity and introducing them to drugs and alcohol. We are being forced to put kids at extreme risk.
“I have absolutely no doubt that kids will die this year as a result of the limited support we have been able to give.”
A Department of Human Services and Victoria Police training document for child protection workers, obtained by the Herald Sun, warns: “Young people (often connected) are passed through networks, possibly over geographical distances, between towns and cities where they may be forced/coerced into sexual activity with multiple men. Often this occurs at ‘sex parties’, and young people who are involved may be used as agents to recruit others into the network. Some of this activity is described as serious organised crime and can involve the organised ‘buying and selling’ of young people by perpetrators.”
Child protection workers have confirmed to the Herald Sun that this is happening in Victoria.
As well as the Dandenong-based Afghani gang, one agency operating residential units has identified a network of 12 “Anglo” men who had worked together to sexually exploit teens in its care — information that it has passed on to police.
Veteran Children’s Court lawyer Liz Dowling said the sexual exploitation of teenagers in care was well known to everyone who worked in the sector.
“This is not unusual. The children aren’t in their placements, but they’re not working on beats in St Kilda. If they were they would be being observed there,” she said.
“Yet girls in care are regularly turning up to court with brand new iPhones and wearing the latest fashion. You don't have to be a genius to know where they came from.”
Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews that said as a former Community Services Minister, Premier Denis Napthine should understand there is no greater betrayal of trust than the abuse of children state care.
“Mary Wooldridge has been Minister for three years, and this is simply a disgrace,” he said.
“If Mary Wooldridge is failing to provide child protection agencies the support and resources to keep children safe very night, she is failing in her responsibility as a minister.”
Police spokesman Catherine Allen said the Sexual Crimes Squad and local sexual offences and child abuse investigation teams were working closely with the Department of Human Services to prevent the sexual exploitation of children in protection, and those residing in out-of-home-care.
“A collaborative approach was established in September 2012 to identify and respond to incidences of sexual exploitation and to deliver training to people who work with at-risk adolescents,” she said.
“Since then there have been several successful investigations with offenders sentenced for child exploitation offences. There are a number of ongoing operations.”