Monday, July 17, 2006

Two perpetrators of sexual abuse in a remote South Australian Aboriginal community have been arrested

Jeremy Roberts:

Police yesterday paid tribute to two communities for making official complaints about abuse of women and children, which led to the arrest of two men for sexual assaults allegedly committed since January last year, including the alleged rape of a four-year-old girl last Friday.

One man has faced Port Augusta Magistrates Court and has been remanded in custody while police continue their inquiries.

Another was charged and remanded in custody on Sunday.

Detectives from the Sexual Crimes Investigation Branch and local police received the complaints in the past month.

Officer-in-charge John Venditto said the complaints by the victims were a breakthrough.

"It is a significant step for these remote communities," Detective Superintendent Venditto said. "I understand the alleged victims have come forward and reported these matters and police and other services have responded."

The communities were on the remote west coast of South Australia.

The Australian understands that the alleged victims and the abusers are Aborigines. But the charges are unrelated to claims made in the past month about active pedophiles in central Australian Aboriginal communities.

The abuse reportedly goes unpunished because of a culture of silence and retribution, sometimes justified as "Aboriginal culture".

In the first of the South Australian arrests, a 51-year-old man was charged on June 8 in relation to allegations of sexual abuse committed on a number of people in the community, most of whom were children.

The offences allegedly occurred at the remote community between January 2005 and July 2006. The man has appeared in Port Augusta Magistrates Court and was remanded in custody to appear at a later date.

In a separate investigation, a four-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted last Friday at another remote community.

A complaint was made and a 45-year-old man from the same remote community was arrested on Sunday and charged.

The man was remanded in custody to appear in Port Augusta Magistrates Court later this month.

Police said in a statement that government agencies were providing counselling and medical care to the alleged victims and their families.

Many stories have emerged in the past two months of abuse of Aboriginal women, men and children by other Aboriginal men.

The nation's most powerful law enforcement agency has won federal government support to use its star chamber powers to break the code of silence surrounding violence and sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities.

Justice Minister Chris Ellison has backed a plan to allow the Australian Crime Commission to compel witnesses to give evidence as part of a push to end the scourge of substance abuse and sexual violence in the communities. Senator Ellison likened the problems to "organised crime".

Aborigines to be compelled to give evidence

Tribal law 'no excuse for sex abuse'


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