‘No evidence of child abuse’ at school in Northern Territory’s remote Paparoa region
Posted On August 9, 2021
The Northern Territory Government has defended its controversial ‘no evidence of abuse’ policy, saying it is based on the “best available scientific evidence”.
Key points:The government says it has no evidence of children having been abused at school or any other institution in the Paparoas regionThe Department of Education says it is investigating whether staff have abused childrenThe NT Government says the policy is not the first time the Government has sought to remove its name from a research studyThe National Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is conducting its first independent review of the controversial policy, which it said has resulted in more than 600 complaints to the Department of Child Safety and Protection.
The NT Department of Children and Families (DCF) has previously defended the policy, claiming it is “compelling and effective”.
It said it has a “zero tolerance” policy towards any form of child sexual abuse, including sexual contact with a child in the care of a teacher or other school personnel.
“This policy was put in place to ensure children are protected, to ensure that no child is subjected to sexual exploitation, to prevent child sexual exploitation and to prevent abuse at any institution,” a department spokesperson told the ABC.
“The best available scientific data does not support the claim that the policy reduces the risk of child exploitation.”
But the inquiry is investigating the policy in Paparoat and says it may be “more than a year” before any recommendations are released.
It says the Department is investigating all complaints about the policy and the department is seeking “any evidence that the department has engaged with or facilitated the commission of any child sexual offence”.
“There is no evidence that staff have engaged in any sexual activity with children in Paparooa or other areas of the Territory,” it said.
The inquiry’s director, Dr John Matson, said he would not be surprised if the policy was removed from the public domain.
“There will be a significant number of complaints against this policy, and if we’re to be honest we have seen a significant amount of complaints from Paparoats and other parts of the territory,” he said.
The inquiry has not yet released any evidence it has found against the policy.”
I think the evidence is clear it has worked, and it has reduced the risk to children.”
The inquiry has not yet released any evidence it has found against the policy.
The Department is also conducting an independent review into the policy’s effectiveness.
“We are undertaking a detailed, full and comprehensive review of our policies and procedures to ensure they are effective and ensure that they do not contribute to the continued occurrence of sexual exploitation of children,” the spokesperson said.
Dr Matson said the review would look at the policy at all schools, and would also look at what happened to some of the children who complained to the inquiry.
He said the Department was “committed” to “trying to resolve the issues that are brought forward”.
“We believe that the policies are effective,” he added.
“We will also be doing an independent evaluation of our processes to ensure we are delivering the best possible outcome for the children.”