Skip directly to content

Young Tasmanian ward of state pregnant

Like us on fb

Lukes Dad's picture
on Tue, 08/14/2012 - 08:53
Fight Child Protection Department Corruption: 

MARK COLVIN: A Tasmanian teenager has become pregnant while under state care. 

The 14-year-old girl became pregnant when she was 13, and now Child Protection Services have asked police to investigate several men who could be the father. 

The girl's grandmother says the state's had no control over her granddaughter and she's blaming the Government for the teenager's pregnancy. 

Felicity Ogilvie reports.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Tasmania's Children and Youth Services Department is still reeling from last year's revelations about a 12-year-old ward of the state who was sold for sex in 2009.

Now comes another story of a minor in care - a 14-year-old who became pregnant last year when she was 13. The girl's grandmother says the child is a ward of the state.

GRANDMOTHER: I do blame the Government, I think they could have done more, been stricter with her when she first left my place, and not let my granddaughter make the decisions which she's made all along. Welfare haven't made the decisions, she's made them. She's told welfare what she wants to do, and they let her do it.

MARK BYRNE: I think the grandmother's point is fair. We are like every other parent of adolescent children. It is not easy to kind of control adolescent children, when it particularly, when they've got challenging and highly at-risk behaviours. We try to put kind of put limits around it, as does every other parent. But at times it proves problematic.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Mark Byrne is the chief executive officer for Children and Youth services. 

MARK BYRNE: I am able to confirm the young woman, subject to a care and protection order, is pregnant, and is expecting a baby in late June/July.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Her grandmother says that the teenager is living with her boyfriend at the moment and that she's not safe.

MARK BYRNE: I'm not able to confirm or deny that she's currently living with her boyfriend, that is not the departmental's plan, we have staff who are actively trying to engage with her as we speak to try and work out what her options could be.

We have options for her, but we need her to engage with us.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Are you able to tell us how old the father of the baby is?

MARK BYRNE: I'm not at liberty to know that. There are a number of alleged putative fathers, and I'm not able to (inaudible).

We have reported the matter to the police who will be investigating to see if there is actually a crime been committed.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The grandmother is still looking after the girl's brother, who she says is under a care and protection order. 

GRANDMOTHER: He's been seen once in two years. February of 2009 was the last time he saw his case manager.

FELICITY OGILVIE: She's told PM that a child protection officer visited her house today. But when we put that to Mark Byrne he said he wasn't aware of that visit.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The grandmother says that her grandson, who's living with her, hasn't seen a child protection officer for the past two years.

MARK BYRNE: Yeah I'm aware of that, I was made aware of that this morning.

I've commissioned an investigation into that, and I will report to the commissioner for children particularly, who did the previous audit in care, on what I find. But at the moment I have no other details.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The grandmother has told the ABC that the child protection worker turned up on her doorstep today.

MARK BYRNE: I'm not aware of that.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The concern for the girl in today's case is heightened by the public perception of what happened to the 12-year-old girl who was sold for sex in 2009.

Last year, the Childrens Minister, Lin Thorp told the media, that three government departments had failed to protect the 12-year-old girl.

LIN THORP: This is systemic failure. Police, education and child protection were all aware that there are issues around this child, and failed to act appropriately.

FELICITY OGILVIE: A report by the former children's commissioner found the 12-year-old's child protection worker was aware of drug use in the girl's home, but still recommended she be removed from state care.

The worker made that recommendation on the same day that the child was being prostituted by her mother and a family friend called Gary Devine.

The child protection worker kept her job, and PM has been told that until October last year, that worker was still assigned to the 12-year-old's case.

The head of Child Protection, Mark Byrne, says he won't discuss the case.

MARK BYRNE: You'll be aware that the commissioner for children, the previous commissioner for children, conducted a thorough investigation into that, made several recommendations which we're in the process of implementing.

I'm not prepared to comment any further on any individual staff member. I have a duty of care to that person, as I do to the young girl concerned.

FELICITY OGILVIE: As a result of last year's events, child protection has been a fiercely controversial issue in Tasmania for months, involving controversy about top jobs and a running battle between the Minister and the former children's commissioner.

If anything, today's events will fan the flames.

MARK COLVIN: Felicity Ogilvie