Sex accused can work with kids in West Australia

Fifteen people accused of child abuse have been found to have accreditation to work with children in WA.

The allegations against the working with children cardholders were uncovered by sex crime division detectives who are assessing applications made under the Redress WA scheme for children abused in State care.

But the Department for Child Protection said yesterday it was powerless to act against the 15 “persons of interest” identified by police.

Child Protection Minister Robyn McSweeney said she was “very concerned” about the allegations but said that under current law her department could only revoke or suspend accreditation as a result of relevant criminal charges.

Her comments sparked outrage from Labor and the Greens, who both called on Mrs McSweeney to direct her department to immediately investigate the 15 alleged child sex offenders.

Shadow child protection minister Sue Ellery said the department and minister had a legal obligation to ensure children were not in danger.

Greens MP Alison Xamon said it was increasingly evident the allegations coming out of the Redress scheme were not just historical and child sex offenders who preyed on children decades ago could still pose a threat.

“It is absolutely horrifying that people may have been able to get away with working with children and abusing them for decades,” Ms Xamon said.

Hansard shows that the Government has been aware since November of the allegations against at least eight of the alleged child sex offenders.

Police have confirmed 691 of 2214 accepted Redress applications have been referred to them at the request of people who allege they were sexually and physically abused while child wards of the State.

A police spokesman said it was “difficult” to say how long it would take to finish their review of allegations of abuse.

He revealed two new investigations into alleged child sex crimes had been launched as a result of the Redress assessment, which has already provided information that directly led to charges against Neil McKenna from St Andrew’s Hostel in Katanning and a 71-year- old man.

Victims of abuse can call 1800 619795 for support.

Joseph Catanzaro, The West Australian Updated June 1, 2012, 2:40 am