MEDIA RELEASE: "Can we put a price on children's innocence?"

July 6, 2011 at 12:51am

July 6, 2011

                        

Kelly Vincent MLC – Media Release

 

Can we put a price on children's innocence?

 

The families of children with disabilities who were allegedly sexually assaulted by a school bus driver have been left feeling betrayed, frustrated and isolated by the Department of Education’s response to the crisis, says Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent.

 

Yesterday Ms Vincent and some of the parents concerned met with Education Minister, Jay Weatherill.

 

“The slow and unhelpful response from DECS has left these families and their children without vital supports like counselling at a time when they needed help the most,” said Ms Vincent.

 

“Tragically we can't change what has already happened, but the Department must still be held accountable for the anguish this stuff-up has caused.”

 

The parents, however, are most concerned with preventing the abuse of other at-risk children in the future. 

 

Yesterday’s meeting gave parents the opportunity to tell Minister Wetherill how they think the Labor Government could make this a reality.

 

Suggestions included: Placing an SSO on school buses transporting children with special needs to oversee the children and driver; installing GPS devices on buses; and fitting buses with video surveillance, as is already the case with every taxi in this state.

 

“The Minister says many of the suggested measures are 'impractical' financially. I believe nothing can be more costly than the emotional toll this tragic situation has taken on the families involved,” said Ms Vincent.

 

Ms Vincent was pleased to see a measure instated earlier this month which will subject all bus drivers to national, instead of state-based, police checks. But she says much more needs to be done.

 

Kelly Vincent calls on Minister Wetherill to commit to the following:

 

  • Cease subcontracting school bus services
  • Install video  surveillance on school busses
  • Publicly apologise for the pain their initial lack of communication has caused
  • Provide the affected children and families with ongoing, appropriate therapy
  • Provide all families of at-risk children with literature on the “warning signs” of sexual abuse

 

“Nothing can undo what has been done, but these are a few select measures this Government could take immediately to provide vulnerable children with a safer future,” said Ms Vincent.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR INTERVIEWS PLEASE CALL Farrin Foster, Media Officer in the Vincent office on: 8237 9543