Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader
The announcement of a Commission of Inquiry into the sexual abuse of children and young people in the care of the State is both welcome and overdue.
There are currently three separate investigations into historical abuse across three government agencies, pointing to a cultural and systemic problem that has potentially harmed generations of young Tasmanians.
The allegations of historical abuse in State schools must be thoroughly investigated, along with the fact that any unknown number of children were sexually abused by a nurse who worked at the Launceston General Hospital for 18 years. The allegations revealed last week in relation to Ashley Youth Detention Centre, and further allegations today confirmed by the Premier within schools and mental health settings, are equally confronting.
The Greens welcome the Premier’s announcement of a Commission of Inquiry into child abuse in State Government institutions. It is clear the allegations that have come to light in recent months are just the beginning – we have barely scratched the surface of a much deeper wound.
We are pleased the separate investigations being done by the Departments of Education and Health will be transitioned to a Commission of Inquiry. The critical power of a Commission to compel evidence and provide a safe space for truth telling cannot be overstated when investigating systematic child abuse.
We urge the government to ensure the Terms of Reference are not restrictive, and they allow survivors and witnesses to give evidence in a supported, meaningful way.
This is the right thing to do by the children who are, and have been, in government care. It is an important first step moving forward with compassion and care, to make sure Tasmania is the safest State in the country for children and young people.