Counsel for Commission of Inquiry raises deliberate cover-up of child sexual abuse in Tasmanian public hospitals

Child abuse commission questions potential 'cover-up, corruption'

The possibility that allegations of child sexual abuse committed by multiple predators in Tasmanian public hospitals were ignored or deliberately covered-up has been raised by the commission of inquiry.

The first day of the Inquiry looking at the state's response to child sexual abuse in public schools, hospitals, youth justice and out of home care from the year 2000 onwards began this morning.

In an opening statement by Counsel Assisting Maree Norton, it became clear that other allegations of child sexual abuse by employees at Launceston General Hospital, different to those against pediatric paedophile nurse James Griffin, have been raised.

Further, allegations against staff at other hospitals, including the Royal Hobart Hospital, has occurred.

The existence of corruption within Tasmania's public health service was also raised by Ms Norton, who made a clear delineation between turning a blind eye or not believing children's complaints of abuse, to "outright corruption".

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"We know that ordinary people might turn a blind eye to something that seems wrong, they might try to convince themselves that a child was confused when they disclosed abuse, or felt that addressing the problem was someone else's job," she said.

"These actions can sometimes seem callous or negligent, with the benefit of hindsight, but often reflect common human behaviours in a face of difficult or frightening situations.

"In a different category altogether is a calculated effort to cover up sexual abuse of a child to protect a perpetrator or preserve an organisation's interest or reputations. This can include failure to report abuse when required to do so, tampering with documents, and outright corruption."

Ms Norton said difficult issues would be raised in relation to child sexual abuse at Tasmanian's public hospital, including the possibility of a "cover-up".

"Uncomfortable questions, including whether the response of persons and institutions to allegations of child sexual abuse in health settings might have involved negligence, wilful blindness, or worse still, deliberate cover up," she said.

"At this stage we cannot rule out the possibility that the evidence might support findings of misconduct in relation to persons of concern."

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