Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry News and Updates

Witness confirms Noel Heiner informed of pack rape at John Oxley Youth Detention Centre

John Oxley Youth Detention Centre
John Oxley Youth Detention Centre. Picture: Philip Norrish

Today at the Carmody Inquiry, the Rubicon on the Heiner Affair was irretrievable crossed.

A highly credible witness under oath, Mrs Irene Parfitt, former Youth Worker at the John Oxley Youth Detention Centre, confirmed the contents of her police statement that she told Mr Heiner about the pack rape of Annette Harding when she gave evidence to him in Brisbane Children's Court at North Quay.

She was, in effect, a whistleblower. She would not tolerate silence any longer over a burning issue at the Centre for many staff, and she believed the Heiner Inquiry was the place to make her public interest disclosure. 

The assault was a matter which greatly disturbed her. Notwithstanding some time difficulties expected after the passage of close to 23 years, she clearly recalled telling Mr Heiner about the sexual assault of Ms Harding, a 14-year-old indigenous child while in the care of the State.

Mr Heiner was lawfully entitled to take her evidence. It was recorded. This evidence of 'criminal paedophilia' went through the shredder on 23 March 1990.

It should be remembered that in May/June 2010, the Bligh Government paid Ms Harding some $140,000 on the condition of silence directly attributable to this incident.

For those who did not attend the 2 weeks of evidence in Brisbane, they may like to know that Ms Harding attended. Like a reminder of a terrible past or a chilling wind from the south in winter, she went in and out of the hearings, often in tears.

But she was there delicately standing as an indigenous Australian woman but as a grim reminder of an event many thought would never see the light of day, and which many over the last 22 years have done all they can to keep the truth hidden in the dark under a web of lies.

Well, today in Court 17 of the Brisbane Magistrates Court Complex, the dazzling light came in. It was dramatic stuff.

Mrs Parfitt delivered the truth.

So, the contents of the Rofe QC Audit hold firm despite a long queue of former Youth Workers over the last 8 days saying that they never told Mr Heiner about child sexual abuse, or that he never asked them about it.

Another witness to appear tomorrow, Mr Michael Roch, confirmed back in 2001 that Mr Heiner asked him about the Harding Incident during their interview in the Children's Court. We shall have to wait and see how he recounts his evidence under oath tomorrow eleven years later.

Now we know that there were three levels of 'legal/evidentary' value to the Heiner Inquiry documents when they were ordered to be put through the shredder by the 5 March 1990 Goss Cabinet in order to prevent their use as evidence.

They were required in judicial proceedings in respect of their administrative value for several public servants. These public servants had, in legal terms, commenced judicial proceedings. By law, that is sufficient to trigger section 129 of the Criminal Code.

The documents also had evidentary value because their contents where known by government to concern children being handcuffed the outside fences at JOYC overnight, and now child sexual abuse concerning the sexual assault of a 14-year-old indigenous Australian in the Australia bush when Crown supervisory staff failed to keep an eye on the inmates.

In the history of the long-running Heiner Affair this has been one of its most momentous days.

There shall doubtless be more to come in 2013.

They may prove to be legally, constitutionally and politically historic days for Queensland, if not Australia, because of the parties now involved in this cover-up.

The truth must finally come out.

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