Government must reveal whether WA children in state care were charged with crimes as children

Greens spokesperson for Child Protection Hon Alison Xamon MLC has called on the Government to reveal whether care and protection applications to place Western Australian children in state care were historically recorded as criminal offences.

Ms Xamon raised the issue in Parliament this week, but was asked to place the Question on Notice, meaning a response will not be provided until May.

She said while she acknowledged this was a complex issue, it was important to find out as soon as possible whether Western Australian care leavers were affected.

“We know that in the past in New South Wales and Victoria, the system failed to differentiate between child welfare and youth justice issues and children removed from their families were taken before the courts and charged with ‘status offences’ such as being ‘deemed to a be a child in need of care and protections,’” Ms Xamon said.

“In many instances, people only discovered as adults that their child protection status was recorded as an offence when they were only children.

“To receive a criminal record as a child through no fault of your own represents a serious injustice.”

Ms Xamon said the Victorian Government had announced it will consult with those affected regarding the best way to address this issue,” Ms Xamon said.

She said it is also considering a public apology.

“I asked the Government this week – very simply – if the practice occurred in WA and if so, whether the Government intends to do anything about it,” Ms Xamon said.

“To have to wait 10 sitting days – which takes us into May – for a response, which is really too long.

“We need to know immediately whether this is an issue in WA so that it can be addressed as a priority.”