One day after ABC reported on the story of Ashley *, who says two of her children were abused by their step-grandfather, child safety authorities have acknowledged that another child still in custody by Ashley’s mother “should not be there”.
- Ashley has had to fight to regain custody of her children after child safety became involved
- She says two of her children have been sexually abused by a man who still lives on the property
- After ABC read her story, Child Safety told her that another of her children should not still be in their grandmother’s custody, but has failed to act
Warning: This article contains content that some readers may find disturbing.
Tasmanian child safety authorities held a meeting yesterday after the history of ABC and said a new caseworker would be assigned to Ashley’s son.
But this morning, Ashley said staff told her she would not get a new caseworker because “they have capacity and do not have staff”.
Nothing has been done to remove Ashley’s son from his grandmother’s care.
Ashley has previously told of how child safety in Tasmania advised her to sign her parental rights more than ten years ago when she woke up from a coma and struggled to take care of herself. She had also previously struggled with mental health issues triggered by a violent relationship.
“When I was told to overwrite the children, I was unable to sign any legal or legal documents,” she said.
Ashley’s mother was cared for by her children.
“Really late one night my mom called me and she said, ‘I have something terrible to tell you,'” Ashley said.
“My heart just sank. I thought maybe one of the kids was dead.”
Ashley’s mother said her eldest daughter had told her that “pop” had sexually abused her “for a very long time”.
She went to check on her daughter.
“Her exact words were to me, ‘I’ve been hiding this for a very long time, Mom,'” she said.
Child safety warned for two years
Ashley informed the child safety officer, who assessed the situation and found out that the children were safe because their grandmother’s husband – the children’s stepfather – had moved out.
But Ashley later found out he had moved back and continued to live in a caravan on the property.
She said child safety told her that because the man technically did not live in the house, there was no safety risk.
Ashley has regained custody of several of her children, but not her son.
Weeks ago, another of Ashely’s children said their stepfather had abused them. She reported it to the Tasmanian police.
On Tuesday, Ashley told ABC she had tried to warn children about safety for two years about the situation to no avail.
One day after ABC brought the story, Child Safety held a meeting on Ashley’s case.
“The worker I spoke to said they have enough evidence that my son was not there,” she said.
Ashley said despite the fact that her son has not been removed – instead, child protection staff told her the family would be assigned to another caseworker.
But this morning, Ashley spoke to staff again, who told her there were not enough vacant child welfare workers to appoint a new caseworker.
“Nothing has been done. Nothing has been done for a very long time,” she said.
‘Just completely unacceptable’
State Opposition spokeswoman for child safety Sarah Lovell said there were “significant concerns about this child’s safety”.
“It’s absolutely not acceptable that those kinds of worries take two years to get any kind of reaction,” she said.
“We find that time and time again we hear about situations like this that any sensible person would have very serious and significant questions about.”
Attorney Sebastian Buscemi said there appeared to have been “complete, absurd errors” in Ashley’s case.
“It’s just completely unacceptable that there is any delay in leaving a child at risk… for two years when there are also alternative placements, I think that is unacceptable.
“Time and time again, we see state care almost disregarding children’s welfare and rights in care.
“It suggests that children’s welfare and safety are not near the top of the department’s priority.”
ABC has contacted Tasmania’s Department of Society for an answer.
Earlier this week, ABC published one study outlining child protection failures in all states and territories.
The report was based on contributions from more than 700 people, including more than 200 current and former workers.
* Name has been changed for legal reasons.
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