Rhonda Parker

Rhonda Parker


    WA Police with Family and Children's Services co-ordinate approach to child abuse

    20/09/1999 9:30 AM

      Child protection services in Western Australia are to be further strengthened in the near future when officers from the Western Australia Police Service and Family and Children’s Services begin jointly interviewing children suspected of being victims of child abuse.

      About 150 officers from both organisations in the metropolitan area and Bunbury have begun five one-week training courses which will result in a more co-ordinated approach to child protection and child abuse investigations, Family and Children’s Services Minister Rhonda Parker and Police Minister Kevin Prince said today.

      The initiative will be extended throughout the State next year.

      Mrs Parker said the detail of this new approach had been developed over the past 12 months, following a State Government commitment in September last year to introduce this joint process when investigating allegations of child abuse.

      “A child who has been a victim of abuse may easily become distressed or overwhelmed by the number of professionals involved in the initial investigation and assessment of child abuse notifications,” she said.

      “This training will allow officers from the two departments to conduct a joint interview to minimise the stress experienced by the children in what has to be the most horrific time of their lives.”

      Mr Prince said the policy could also lead to a higher rate of conviction of child abusers as the joint training would help improve the quality of evidence required in criminal proceedings.

      “The training program has the support of the DPP, Departments of Health and Education and the Ministry of Justice which have an important role in the notification, investigation and treatment of child abuse,” Mr Prince said.

      Mrs Parker said the development of the training package was also supported by the Child Protection Council, which would also monitor its implementation.

      “These joint operations are essential and are part of the State Government’s commitment to improve co-ordination across relevant Government departments directly or indirectly involved in child protection,” she said.

      “Indeed, some of the worst examples of cases having gone wrong in the past occurred because of a failure of relevant Government services to work together.”

      Mr Prince said the WA Police Service Child Abuse Investigations (CAI) team had recently completed a successful joint investigation with the assistance of the Mirrabooka office of Family and Children’s Services which had resulted in a number of charges alleged against a 38-year-old man who was currently awaiting trial.

      In addition, a co-located trial comprising of four police officers and about eight FCS officers, will be situated in a facility at Warwick following the training session.

      “This initiative should send a very clear message to potential perpetrators of abuse or neglect against children that such abhorrent behaviour will not be tolerated in this State,” Mr Prince said.

      Media contacts: Owen Cole 9481 7810 / Kirsten Stoney 9220 5000