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Extent of child abuse in state care exposed

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on Thu, 08/16/2012 - 19:01
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WA Police will launch a special task force to investigate 184 cases of child abuse allegedly perpetrated in State care.

The staggering number of continuing investigations, sparked by allegations made under the Redress WA scheme for children abused in State care, was one of several alarming revelations connected to the Government's ex gratia scheme that were exposed in Parliament yesterday.

In response to questions from Greens MP Alison Xamon, the Government confirmed of the 5225 ex gratia payments made under Redress WA, 1063 were awarded for "very severe" sexual, physical or psychological abuse that left the child victim with problems into adulthood.

Also revealed was the fact that 120 alleged child victims - who applied for an ex gratia payment after the scheme opened in 2008 - died before they received their payouts.

Ms Xamon, who welcomed the police commitment to tackle the investigations sparked by Redress WA, said the 120 deaths showed time was running out to arrest perpetrators and provide justice for ageing victims, some of whose claims of abuse date to the 1940s.

Ms Xamon again called on Premier Colin Barnett to heed calls from the Greens and State Opposition for a Royal Commission.

"We have been treating these issues as if they are in the long distant past," Ms Xamon said. "But they are very current right now. We need to identify the circumstances that allowed these abuses to occur in the first place, so they don't happen again."

In June, _The West Australian _revealed 15 people accused of child abuse under the Redress scheme were found to have accreditation to work with children in WA.

Ms Xamon said a Royal Commission, which WA Labor has pledged to hold if the party wins office next year, could help bring to justice child sex offenders who preyed on children decades ago.

Mr Barnett said he would not respond until the Government had had time to consider the findings of former Supreme Court justice Peter Blaxell on the St Andrew's Hostel inquiry.

The Premier said the Government, which recently received an "informal briefing" from Judge Blaxell, had only just received the report.

A WA Police spokesman estimated it would take between 12 and 18 months to complete the remaining Redress investigations.