Mother’s anger as child protection takes years to remove child from property with alleged abuser

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A Tasmanian mother whose child lived on property with a man suspected of sexually assaulting her other two children has been reunited with her child, after what she says were years of inaction by protection authorities from childhood.

Ashley* left her children in the care of her mother around 12 years ago when she was suffering from serious health issues which caused her to slip into a coma.

“I basically signed them because child protection came in and said, ‘If you don’t, we’re going to have to place them in foster care,'” she said.

About two years ago, one of Ashley’s children revealed that her stepfather had sexually abused her for about a decade. Since then, Ashley says another of her children made a similar disclosure and reported it to the police.

Both of these children returned to Ashley’s custody, but her third child still remained at the property.

Ashley said she had contacted the Tasmanian Communities Department about her concerns over the welfare of the third child since April 2020, but no action had been taken.

In June, she told the ABC that child safety officers decided not to act because the step-grandfather no longer lived at the home. He had instead moved into a trailer parked on the property.

But soon after Ashley shared her story with the ABC, the department began investigating the grandmother and the child was returned to Ashley and her ex-partner’s care.

“I went to the media. They just reacted and they only got involved again because [of it],” she says.

“I wouldn’t have been called back at all if I hadn’t brought this to the attention of the media.”

Ashley said that although she was told by a child protection worker that her case had been closed, she was “very angry” that the department was “not intervening” sooner.

The Communities Department said it was ‘inappropriate to discuss individual cases relating to specific children and families’.

When asked if he got involved because of ABC’s coverage, the department said, “The department’s assessment and decision-making regarding individual cases is driven by processes and policies. relevant legislation.”

More than 1,000 people from across the country have come forward in a major ABC investigation into child protection failures this year.

*The name has been changed for legal reasons.

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