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Child protection staff turn a blind eye to sexual assaults

Child protection case managers in the Northern Territory underwent mandatory training four years ago after it was revealed staff members ignored relationships between young girls and much older men because of Aboriginal cultural practices.

Jodeen Carney, the CEO of the Department of Children and Families at the time, sent an urgent memo in November 2014 ordering all staff to participate in training conducted by social anthropologist Jane Lloyd, according to NT News.

The memo is believed to have been prompted by a manager’s decision to grant permission to let a girl have a relationship with a man, who she also lived with.

NT child protection case managers underwent mandatory training in 2014 after it was revealed some staff members had turned a blind eye to relationships between young girls and much older men (pictured is Tennant Creek)

A leaked memo ordering staff to undergo training was released almost two weeks after  tensions escalated in Tennant Creek (left) over the alleged sexual assault of a two-year-old (right) girl

A leaked memo ordering staff to undergo training was released almost two weeks after tensions escalated in Tennant Creek (left) over the alleged sexual assault of a two-year-old (right) girl

Jodeen Carney (pictured), the CEO of the Department of Children and Families at the time, sent an urgent memo in November 2014 ordering all staff to participate in training conducted by social anthropologist Jane Lloyd

Jodeen Carney (pictured), the CEO of the Department of Children and Families at the time, sent an urgent memo in November 2014 ordering all staff to participate in training conducted by social anthropologist Jane Lloyd

‘It has come to my attention that a small number of staff misunderstand how some cultural practices in local Aboriginal communities affect their role as child protection practitioners when assessing and managing cases involving sexual exploitation,’ Ms Carney said in the memo, the publication reported on Wednesday.

‘The age of consent in the Territory is 16 years of age. Children under 16 years of age cannot ‘consent’ to sexual intercourse.’

Ms Lloyd was hired to educate staff and ‘address aspects of classical and contemporary Aboriginal beliefs and customs insofar as they relate to family structures and child safety,’ Ms Carney said.

The leaked memo comes after tensions escalated in Tennant Creek over the alleged sexual assault of a two-year-old girl.

The toddler was flown to the Alice Springs Hospital on February 16 before being rushed to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, where she was placed in an induced coma because of the severity of her injuries.

A 24-year-old man who is said to have a close relationship with the child has since been arrested and charged with sexual assault. He appeared to have been bashed when he appeared in court by video-link last week. He did not apply for bail.

The girl has been released from hospital into the care of her family and will return to the home where the alleged assault occurred, much to the horror of relatives.

Her parents are understood to have troubled pasts, and are known to be heavy consumers of alcohol. 

The toddler was flown from Tennant Creek to the Alice Springs Hospital on February 16 before being rushed to the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide

The toddler was flown from Tennant Creek to the Alice Springs Hospital on February 16 before being rushed to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide

Restrictions on the sale of alcohol in Tennant Creek have been put in place for the next seven days after an increase in alcohol-related offences, particularly domestic violence

Restrictions on the sale of alcohol in Tennant Creek have been put in place for the next seven days after an increase in alcohol-related offences, particularly domestic violence

It was previously reported a party was held at the home on the same night the two-year-old was allegedly sexually assaulted. 

Territory Families received 21 calls to the girl’s troubled residence between August 15 and December 17.

Restrictions on the sale of alcohol in Tennant Creek have been put in place for the next seven days after an increase in alcohol-related offences, particularly domestic violence. 

Licensing director-general Cinday Bravos says the restrictions will apply to six venues in the town including the Tennant Creek and Goldfields hotels and will limit the amount of takeaway alcohol that can be bought and when it can be purchased. 

Hotels will limit the amount of takeaway alcohol that can be bought and when it can be purchased

Hotels will limit the amount of takeaway alcohol that can be bought and when it can be purchased

‘I will then assess their effectiveness and the options available for implementing longer-term measures if the restrictions prove to be successful in reducing the levels of harm associated with the consumption of alcohol,’ Ms Bravos said in a statement on Tuesday. 

Takeaway alcohol will only be sold from 3pm to 6pm, Monday to Saturday, with limits on the amount of beer, wine, fortified wine or mixed drinks that can be purchased in a single transaction. 

National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT.  

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