The WA Opposition has slammed Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk after horrific details of how some members of an alleged paedophile ring met their victims when they were housed together in government care homes were exposed by a young girl at the centre of the case.
The girl, one of 140 teenage victims, spoke exclusively to WAtoday to reveal she had been forced to live in a Department of Communities care home alongside a boy who had a history of sexual assault allegations.
Macie* said she was upset the department charged with protecting her knowingly put her at risk, and the police investigation that saw her alleged abuser charged with sexual offences had so far withheld that fact.
Opposition child protection spokesman Nick Goiran said Ms McGurk must immediately explain how this happened.
“This is abhorrent and the minister needs to reveal when she first knew about it and what she is doing to make sure this never happens again,” Mr Goiran said.
“How often is it the case that a victim of child sex abuse is placed in the same home as a known sex offender?"
Mr Goiran said for more than three years, Ms McGurk routinely "lifted her shield from accountability" by saying she and her department could not speak about individual cases.
"If the minister cannot answer these questions there is simply no point in maintaining the pretence that Western Australia has a Minister for Child Protection anymore," Mr Goiran said.
“This latest crisis has its genesis in Mark McGowan’s ill-considered decision to collapse the
Department of Child Protection into a mega Department of Communities, demonstrating he
learnt nothing from the Ford Review when he was last in government."
The Department of Communities knew a teenager had been accused of sexual assault before placing him in a residential care home with Macie, who had suffered sexual abuse and rape before coming into care.
A department psychologist expressed "concerns" about housing the two together to the workers at the home in an email.
The email, seen by WAtoday, said they hoped Macie, who had been sexually abused since she was three and raped by someone she knew at 12, would be able to "manage the risk" herself.
Ms McGurk said the allegations were "obviously deeply concerning".
"I have asked the Department of Communities for urgent information about the placement of these individuals, its management of risks to children and young people in group homes, and its awareness of any other young people convicted or charged with sexual abuse who are residing in group home settings," she said.
"I have also requested that the department immediately review the safeguards it has in place to protect vulnerable children and young people in residential group homes.
We need to be sure that the department is doing everything it can to keep children in these environments safe."
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.
You can read more of the original article from WAtoday by clicking here.