Children ‘groomed’ for sexual abuse
A coronial inquest investigating the deaths of 13 young indigenous people in the Kimberley has been told of children being groomed for sexual abuse amid a culture of drugs, gambling and domestic violence in a remote Aboriginal community.
Senior child protection worker Rosalee Webb had been working in the east Kimberley community where a 13-year-old girl, whose name cannot be used, took her own life.
In giving evidence to WA Coroner Ros Fogliani in Broome this morning, Ms Webb said via video link there was a “huge issue” with marijuana abuse and gambling in a community with a large number of registered sex offenders.
She said the desire to gamble was so intense, when people could not get a complete deck of cards they would play a game called coins in the ground.
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Ms Webb said children generally aged 10 or more made their own decisions on attending school because it was a part of the culture.
She acknowledged there was “under reporting” of sexual abuse cases.
“It is not hard hard to groom a child that has nothing - it was certainly going on,” she said.
Ms Webb said she was aware the teenager’s family had received a $1,300 bereavement payment from Centrelink to help with costs, including buying her clothes for her funeral.
“I went to the (family) house and they were playing cards and they said they could not afford to buy clothes for her,” Ms Webb said.
She told the inquest two people in the community were aware the girl had talked about taking her life but did not report it.
Evidence will be heard in Broome this week before the inquest moves to Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek.
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