Friday, 13 October 2017
Vulnerable children failing to receive justice
Several weeks ago, I learnt that court cases involving alleged child abuse were in jeopardy – that is, the alleged perpetrator would walk free – because of a technicality, an administrative process that had not been followed.
Essentially, bureaucratic bungling within SA Health meant Child Protection Services staff were not correctly authorised to collect video evidence from vulnerable young people, and people with complex communication needs.
As the Dignity Party MP> I demanded that the government and opposition ensure their cabinet meeting voted to prioritise the passage of urgent legislation that retrospectively allowed the children’s video evidence to be heard in court.
The Labor Government and Liberal Opposition must make the passing of this legislation their number one priority when parliament resumes.
I was determined we would not have a situation where child abuse cases were thrown out of court because of SA Health staff incompetence. I’m absolutely furious that, once again, abused children have potentially been failed by the justice and child protection systems in this state.
I have worked for years with disability and child protection advocates to enable laws, policy and training so that we see alleged child abuse perpetrators brought to justice.
The establishment of Australia’s first Disability Justice Plan had made this state a nation-leader. For these reforms to have been jeopardised, and risk violent criminals walking free as a result, is not just completely unacceptable it is dangerous.
It could make South Australia, whose lead other states have been following, a laughing stock- If children can’t rely on government to protect them, then we have failed as a community in the most abhorrent way.
That someone didn’t do their job, and consequently several court cases are now at risk, means parliament must act swiftly to rectify the situation.
It is somewhat reassuring that the parliament did pass this legislation swiftly but it remains incumbent on us as legislators, and the community as a whole, to ensure children can rely on the adults in the their lives to love, support and protect them.
Kelly Vincent MLC Dignity Party