Govt should 'of course' apologise to abused children - Tolley

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley (Simon Wong / 3 News)
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley (Simon Wong / 3 News)

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says "of course" the Government should apologise to anyone abused or mistreated as a child in state care.

However, she has ruled out apologising to all who were in state care following the release of the results of eight years of work by a hearing panel which documented some of the horrors children were subjected to.

The Government is considering the final report of the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service, which heard evidence from 1103 people abused as children while in state care from the early 1940s until 1992.

The report was obtained by Fairfax Media under the Official Information Act.

It said there was an "alarming amount of abuse and neglect, with extreme levels of violence" against young people in state care.

Fifty-seven percent of both boys and girls had been sexually abused while in state care - such as foster homes, institutions, asylums, health camps and borstals - and some were irreparably damaged.

They were beaten by foster parents, social workers, teachers, clergy, cooks, gardeners, night watchmen and other children.

Ms Tolley said the abuse was despicable.

"To anyone that's been abused while they were in state care of course I apologise, and any minister would and any government should," she said.

She dismissed a report which said the victims would not get a public apology from the Government. She said she had been asked if the Government would apologise to all children who had been in state care, whether they had been abused or not, and the answer was "no of course not".

Nearly $6 million had been paid to more than 300 claimants.

"The most shocking thing was that much of this was preventable," said service panel chairwoman Judge Carolyn Henwood.

If people had done their jobs properly and proper systems had been in place, much could have been avoided, she said.

The service recorded the participants' stories, offered them counselling, enabled them to access their state files, and some had their case referred to a state agency - generally the Ministry for Social Development - to investigate their care.

Many were now on an investigation wait list.

Eighty-nine cases were referred to police for further investigation into their alleged abuser.