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Launceston General Hospital Allegations

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Tags: Launceston General Hospital, Child Abuse, Ashley Youth Detention Centre

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Deputy Speaker, I want to start by acknowledging the trauma and the real suffering that many current and past staff of the LGH are feeling and the emotional turmoil that victims and their families are also feeling at the moment.

We are just starting to uncover some of the truly heinous things that happened over 18 years that man, that abuser, was on the children's ward at the Launceston General Hospital. It is a very painful process. I have been approached by past staff and current staff. I understand a lot of detail about the story of one particular victim and that person's family. It is really shocking. It makes it apparent to me is that there was not just a system's problem at play here. This has to be investigated thoroughly, but it is hard to believe that there was just a system's problem at play here. There was something rotten in the management processes in the Launceston General Hospital that enabled an abuser to continue to be on the paediatric ward for that period of time after complaints were alleged to have been made, starting, as we understand, in 2009.

Just the whiff of the accusations that were being made in complaints that have been discussed, still to be proved, ought to have been enough to have immediately caused THS management to move that man from that ward. I do not understand. No one I have spoken to understands how it was possible for complaints to have been made and, in the process of investigating those complaints, that man was allowed to continue to work as a nurse with young, sick, vulnerable children. Left alone with young children for years and years. That is why the investigation that has been proposed by the minister, by this Government, is manifestly inadequate.

It will not get to the bottom of the rottenness that enabled this man to stay in that position after complaints were made. Is it not the case that in every school, in every place where there is a working with vulnerable children responsibility, when complaints of extremely heinous child sex abuse are made, then the person against which a complaint is made is removed during the period an investigation is undertaken? This is what we do not understand. This is what we have to get to the bottom of. That system the THS, the LGH management, something there enabled this to continue. We do not accept that this inquiry is going to work. You cannot get to the bottom of it.

That abuser also worked at Ashley Youth Detention Centre, that abuser also worked on the Spirit of Tasmania, not to mention a number of sporting associations and many other places. This investigation does not enable the stories to be uncovered in those places. It does not enable an appropriate deep, just, fearless and powerful investigation to make sure that not only will this never happen again but that it is not happening now in other paediatric wards in other places under the Government's responsibility. There must be a commission of inquiry because that is the only way witnesses can be compelled to provide evidence, where there is a power to seek a warrant to collect evidence and where there are offences for failing to provide evidence.

We must have a commission of inquiry to enable the other places that that abuser worked to have the same level of investigation as the THS. Surely the minister understands that this is not just about the THS; we must have the minister responsible for child safety involved. The minister responsible for child safety, when the Greens asked the question, did not accept that the Ashley Youth Detention Centre must have this same sunlight but we must or we cannot be confident that this is not happening and will never happen again.

I also thank very much the incredible fearless work of Camille Bianchi. If it were not for that journalist this story would still remain hidden.