Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry News and Updates
Queensland police did not follow up on John Oxley Youth Centre rape allegation
- by: ROSANNE BARRETT
- From: The Australian
- December 10, 2012 1:44PM
POLICE did not continue to investigate allegations of the rape of a girl at a state-run institution 24 years ago after the 14-year-old withdrew her complaint.
Detective-Sergeant Janelle Podlich, who has since left the Queensland police, said the teenager at the centre of the events signed a statement saying she did not wish to make an official complaint to police about the incident at the John Oxley Youth Centre.
The girl had alleged two teenaged boys, also from the centre, raped her during an excursion to Mount Barney on May 24, 1988. Police were called to the centre four days later by management.
"We went out to take a statement from (the girl)," Ms Podlich told Queensland's Child Protection Inquiry today.
"Because she did not make a complaint to us no further action was taken."
The incident is often cited within the "Heiner Affair", a long-running claim of a cover-up that has dogged successive Queensland and federal Labor governments.
The inquiry has heard retired magistrate Noel Heiner ran a short-lived inquiry into allegations of mismanagement and security issues at the centre in 1988 and 1989. Transcripts and tapes he collected as evidence were shredded on legal advice in 1990 by the new Goss Labor government amid potential defamation action. Heiner died in 2008.
The current inquiry has heard from multiple witnesses who said the alleged rape, or other abuse of children, was not raised in the interviews with Heiner.
Under cross-examination from the woman's legal representative, Gordon Harris, Ms Podlich said the girl was interviewed with two staff from the youth detention centre present because she was comfortable with them.
"We always made sure that a child or a complainant of any kind was comfortable with the people present," she said.
Separately, former centre deputy manager Anne Dutney she did not discuss any allegations of sexual abuse with Heiner during his investigation.
She said it was "abundantly clear" the Heiner inquiry had "no interest" in hearing her point of view on complaints from staff about the centre manager.
"To me it felt like an arrogant disregard for any information I had to put to the inquiry," Ms Podlich said.
Queensland's $9 million Child Protection Inquiry, led by former Family Court judge Tim Carmody, has broad-ranging terms of reference to chart a course to a more efficient and effective child-safety system. Under one term of reference, it is to assess historical allegations of child sexual abuse at the youth detention centre and governments' response to them.
Two weeks of public hearings this month and next month will hear from former workers at the centre and an expected roll call of political and government figures from the time.
The inquiry has adjourned for the day.