'If I don't come home I will just die': Letters reveal child's pleas to get away from her abusers
- Abusers job or title:: Fostercarers
- Type of protection : Granting release
- Category: Children abused in residential care facilities
- Created: Wednesday, 23 October 2019 00:17
- Written by Lauren Pilat - WA Today
As a young girl, Kelly* wrote letters to her parents pleading with them to remove her and her brother Adam* from a Perth group home where they were wards of the state and allegedly abused by their carers.
Kelly would threaten to run away from the state government-operated Doubleview Group Home, and on one occasion did just that before being brought back to the northern suburbs facility against her will.
The siblings had been removed from their parents’ care in the 1990s and placed at the home with Department of Child Protection workers Stephen and Susan Gale, who were later charged with a total of 38 child sexual assault offences.
The accused married couple will never face trial and their alleged victims won’t get the justice they were hoping for after the pair died by suicide this year before their respective court dates.
Adam was the first child to make accusations against them and as a result his mother, who had visitation and contact rights at the time, took her children out of the home without authority.
“We were being abused and we just wanted to go home, we wanted to be back with our parents,” he said.
“The police were more concerned about our mum taking us from the group home without permission rather than the accusations being made.
“They [police] sent me and my sister back to the group home; they didn’t look into it too much. The caretakers threatened me and when I was interviewed by child services I had obviously changed my story about what had happened because I was scared.”
Their mother spent months desperately fighting to get custody of her kids by contacting the then local member Wayde Smith and minister for family and children’s services Cheryl Edwardes.
The matter was heard before a case review board on several occasions and in a number of letters Ms Edwardes told the mother that it was there the decision was made to keep the children under state wardship.
“As I have previously advised, the carers at the Doubleview Group Home have considerable experience in providing group home care,” the letter from Ms Edwardes read.
"Following further enquiries made on your behalf, I have no reason to believe that the children are receiving anything other than a high standard of care."
In another letter referencing Kelly’s comments about dying, Ms Edwardes said the matter had been taken seriously by departmental staff and a Perth district clinical psychologist had been allocated to support the young girl.
Despite their mother’s continued fight to gain custody of her children, Kelly and Adam remained as wards of the state for another two years as advised by Ms Edwardes.
No further investigation into the child sexual assault allegations were made at the time but the siblings were later removed from the Gales' care and moved into another state-run centre for children before their parents won full-time custody.
More than 20 years on from the alleged abuse, Adam said he was traumatised by his experience at the Doubleview Group Home and had lived with anger and guilt ever since.
“I was the first person abused and if they [police and the then family and children’s services] had listened to my allegations, and not thrown their support behind them [Stephen and Susan Gale], and actually looked into them, the other victims I know about now would not have been assaulted,” he said.
"I am angry with the system, we were put back in the care of our abusers and we could no longer trust anyone.
I was angry then and I’m angry now, it won’t go away any time soon, especially because I will never get an apology from my abusersAdam*
"Up until the age of 15, when I was back living with my parents, I would run away and hide from the case worker who would come and check on things because I feared they would take me away again.
"Still to this day I find it hard to trust people, especially when it comes to talking about the abuse. I was angry then and I’m angry now, it won’t go away any time soon, especially because I will never get an apology from my abusers or the departments that failed me."
On Monday, one year on from the national apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, Blue Knot Foundation declared the complex trauma experienced by survivors continued to be a hidden public health crisis.
Foundation president Dr Cathy Kezelman said while much had been achieved since the historic apology, the public health crisis of complex trauma affected more than one in four Australian adults and the issue was still not being adequately addressed.
“The lack of awareness of complex trauma in Australia means many survivors are not receiving the trauma-informed support that they need,” she said.
“We need best practice trauma-informed approaches to care and services to ensure that all survivors – including the victims of institutional child sexual abuse – have the support they need for their recovery.”
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the victims, who were children at the time of the alleged offences.
Source : https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/if-i-don-t-come-home-i-will-just-die-letters-reveal-child-s-pleas-to-get-away-from-her-abusers-20191021-p532uf.html
- Abuser Name or Alias:: Stephen and Susan Gale
- Abusers Organisation:: Perth DCP - Doubleview Group Home
- Type of Abuse:: Sexual, Medical neglect