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Abused children were ignored by a Families SA welfare worker

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Lukes Dad's picture
on Wed, 08/08/2012 - 08:50
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A Families SA WELFARE worker who saw the conditions inside Adelaide's House of Horrors, where children were starved and tortured, did not raise the alarm, it has been revealed.

One of the 21 children from the child neglect case uncovered at Parafield Gardens has revealed for the first time that a trained child protection worker who was a friend of the adults convicted over South Australia's most serious child abuse case was a regular visitor to the squalid home in the weeks before it was uncovered.

The welfare worker never reported the horrific conditions inside the house, later described by police investigators as "abhorrent" and the worst they had dealt with.

Instead, the worker refused to go in the house and would sit on the front porch during subsequent visits.

Families SA yesterday confirmed the woman was a casework assistant at the Families SA Gawler office for almost three years until July 2007 and remained employed by the child protection agency until January 2009.

"The person to whom you refer was employed as a casework assistant at the Families SA Gawler office from October 25, 2004, to July 20, 2007," a departmental spokesman said.

"There is no evidence that she notified concerns to Families SA about the welfare of children at the Parafield Gardens property."

Families SA said the welfare worker's official duties did not involve home visits or family support work during the first half of 2008, when she had visited the home.

The woman did not have a legal obligation to report any concerns about the children's welfare because she was not visiting the property in an official capacity.

The Advertiser has been unable to contact the woman for comment.

The woman, who is engaged to a relative of one of the convicted adults from the case "left the agency" six months after Parafield Gardens case was discovered.

The Advertiser has spoken exclusively to a teenager who lived in the house, now aged 18, who cannot be named for legal reasons. She has revealed the full horror of life inside the home.

She said she knew the woman worked for "welfare" and even though her mother, Tania Staker, was guarded in her presence, the Families SA employee had seen how the children were living in the house.

When the Housing Trust home to three families was raided on June 23, 2008, by Families SA and police, then Families Minister, now Premier, Jay Weatherill said there had been no notifications to raise concerns about the situation. He said the only notifications of concern about the welfare of the children Families SA had been aware of were of a minor nature and related to school attendance.

He called for the Child Death and Serious Injury Review Committee to investigate how such horrific cases of child abuse could go undetected.

The Government is now fighting in the District Court to stop any release of documents relating to the case.

The child neglect victim, who was 14 at the time she lived in the house and the second eldest of the 21 children, said the welfare worker had been inside at least twice only weeks before a five-year-old boy was rushed to Lyell McEwin hospital desperately ill as a result of starvation, depravation and abuse.

"The first couple of times she visited ... she was friends of the adults ... she had been inside the house," said the neglect victim. "Other times she came, she would only sit out the front of the house."

The woman said the abuse and regime of deprivation of five children in the house, who were at times tied up, starved and made to stand against the hallway wall holding phone books over their heads, had occurred between March and June 22, 2008, when their mother had moved into the home with her family.

Tania Staker, who was labelled the mastermind of the regime of neglect, is serving a 10-year jail sentence.

She is now a mother of 14.

Two of her 12 children who lived in the Parafield Gardens house were fathered by Luke Armistead, also father of the five most severely abused children there.


Lukes Dad's picture

Social worker gets 5 years for lying about abuse

State Journal Staff Report Published: July 24, 2012 5:09PM

A former Anderson County social worker who falsified reports of child abuse and neglect has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Margaret “Geri” Murphy, 61, was sentenced in Anderson Circuit Court Tuesday. Murphy, a former front-line social worker in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, pleaded guilty to nine counts of tampering with public records in May.

In her plea agreement, Murphy admitted to erroneously reporting that child abuse or neglect had not occurred in nine cases, according to a press release from Attorney General Jack Conway’s office.

In three of those cases, Murphy reported that claims of sexual abuse were unsubstantiated, keeping the children in abusive situations and allowing the abuse to continue, the release says.

In another case, Murphy said foster children denied abuse in their home, according to the release. The children gave details of the abuse to authorities and were removed after another social worker investigated the matter, the release says.

“Ms. Murphy had a responsibility to investigate allegations of child abuse or neglect and to take action to protect children from these heinous crimes,” Conway said in a statement, calling Murphy’s actions “unconscionable.”

“She failed to execute her duties and to protect Kentucky's youngest and most vulnerable citizens. The sentence handed down today sends a critical message that damaging the integrity of the Cabinet's system of support for child victims will not be tolerated.”

Conway’s Office of Special Prosecutors, which handled the case, argued against a motion for probation based on the seriousness of the crimes, the release says.

whiteLion's picture

karenbourke6's picture

regardles of wether this horrible monster cscw was visiting this residence officially or unofficially she had a obligation as a citizen to report this montrous and horrific act of child abuse and neglect to her colleagues.what a load of rubbish that she was not at the premises as a hope is that she be charged to the maximum penalty and be made to be held accountable for her gross neglegence and incompitence