Ms WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for POLICE, FIRE and EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT, Ms PETRUSMA
Tasmania Police conducted an internal investigation into its handling of the James Griffin matter and reported on its findings in February. The review revealed a decade long failure by Tasmania Police to properly investigate serious allegation of child sex abuse and appalling communication between Tasmania Police, Child Safety and the Department of Justice.
At the time, Commissioner Hine offered his sincere apologies to survivors who were harmed by these manifest failures. The ABC reported today that, as a result of the internal investigation, one police officer received counselling, one was reprimanded, and a third received continuing professional development.
Clearly there has been a culture in at least parts of Tasmania Police where victims or witnesses reporting sexual abuse have not been taken seriously. Survivors of sexual abuse need to be reassured that they will be listened to and believed when they come forward. Can you give an update to the House on actions being taken to make sure this history of abuse inaction will never occur again?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I appreciate that sexual abuse is abhorrent and should in no way happen in Tasmania.
Regarding the Griffin Management Review, I am advised that the professional standards investigation is complete and a reprimand, counselling and professional development have been delivered, in accordance with the Police Service Act 2003. I am advised that one police officer received counselling, one was reprimanded, and another received continuing professional development. I am also advised that the management review and related work will be provided to the Commission of Inquiry into Tasmanian Government Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in institutional settings.
In regards to these police officers, I am advised that it is inappropriate to provide further comment. As an organisation, Tasmania Police is committed to reflective practice and is already implementing recommendations from the Griffin Management Review. These recommendations include developing protocols for the information exchange between the Police department and Department of Justice for Working with Vulnerable Children checks; developing Tasmania Police initial investigation and notification of child sexual abuse guidelines; reviewing the memorandum of understanding between Child and Family Services and Tasmania Police; and recommended amendments to ensure appropriate responses and action are undertaken when either party receives information relating to child sexual abuse.
The Tasmania Police initial investigation, notification and child sexual abuse guidelines have already been completed and are being used by police officers. The registration for working with vulnerable people protocol and revised memorandum of understanding between Tasmania Police and Child and Family Services has been finalised and is also now in operation. In addition, Tasmania Police initiated a professional standards Code of Conduct investigation in relation to certain aspects of the management and handling of information received about James Griffin in 2015.
In regards to the outcomes of the internal review, the outcomes report showed that, whether it is under this Government, but also over different governments, including under the previous Labour-Greens government, there were clear areas for improvement by Tasmania Police and other government agencies. I am assured that where these have not already been acted upon, they are being addressed as a priority.
While the full review of the Griffin matter has been provided to the Commission of Inquiry, as it contains highly sensitive and identifying information about victims, Tasmania Police and the other agencies are not waiting until the outcomes of the Commission of Inquiry to address the issues that can be addressed now. We are committed to improving our systems and processes and to be as transparent as legally possible, and to ensure we focus on continuous improvements to keep Tasmanians safe.
This is why the Commission of Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has commenced. It is imperative that it is not prejudiced to ensure that any current or future pursuits of justice are not compromised. This process comes in addition to the other actions already being taken by this Government to address historic and current cases of child sexual abuse, including those elements the Government has put in place that I have already talked about.