CHILD Protection Minister Rachel Sanderson was unaware a child in state care had been impregnated by a predator until it came to light this week.
Ms Sanderson, pictured, said she was only alerted to the case after the 35-year-old offender, Matthew McIntyre, was sentenced to nearly two years’ jail on Tuesday.
“I share the community’s deep concerns about this incident and … I’m equally disappointed that I was not notified earlier,” she said yesterday.
The 13-year-old girl became pregnant to a man she met on a dating app called Mylol. The offending came to light after messages between the two were discovered and reported to police in January.
Ms Sanderson blamed the department’s incident-reporting system, which meant she was not alerted to serious cases involving children in state care. She said changes were made to the system earlier this year – but after the girl became pregnant. “When we reviewed the policy, I was shocked to find I wouldn’t be notified of all incidents of this nature,” Ms Sanderson said.
“The changes we made were after this incident so that in future this should not happen again without my knowledge.”
Ms Sanderson said the child, who had the pregnancy terminated, was being supported and her case was being reviewed by lead psychiatrist Prue McEvoy.
Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said Ms Sanderson was “completely out of her depth”. “This occurred back in January,” he said. “It is inexplicable the minister didn’t know about this but what is completely unjustified is her total lack of action to make sure this never happens again.
“(She) needs to accept some responsibility and deliver an action plan at the very least to get to the bottom of how this happened in the first place.”
While Premier Steven Marshall said he was “not happy” that Ms Sanderson did not know about the case, he said the government was taking action to ensure the case never happened again.
“I don’t think as a government we’ve ever had the threshold right for critical incidents (being) report(ed) to ministers,” Mr Marshall said. “This is something we discussed in cabinet following the Ann Marie Smith case and what we’ve done since coming to government is change that threshold which is going through the system at the moment”.