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Police best to investigate abuse: group

AAP logoAAP 16/12/2016 Megan Neil

Child sexual abuse complaints are best investigated by police rather than organisations, says a Queensland disability services provider worried it may lose funding if a royal commission makes adverse findings against it.

Gold Coast-based FSG Australia argues institutions responsible for providing services to children, in particular children with disabilities, have insufficient training to properly manage and respond to child sex abuse complaints.

It accepts the approach taken by the then Gold Coast Family Support Group at the time of complaints in 1995 and 2000 "may have varied from what would occur today in accordance with current guidelines".

But it argues such matters are for police to investigate and courts to determine, and it should not be left to legally unqualified lay people to make pre-emptive decisions about the veracity of a complaint "and to then be held open to criticism for failing to act in support of the complainant or the accused".

"It is accepted that in genuine cases of child sexual abuse the complainant should be dealt with swiftly and the perpetrator prosecuted and punished," FSG said in a submission to the child abuse royal commission.

"This however should not be at the expense of appropriate protections for an accused, nor should it involve the implication of responsibility on an organisation to engage in a quasi-inquisitorial processes which are better left to qualified investigators."

Any adverse finding on GCFSG's conduct regarding historical matters would have a significant and detrimental impact on FSG Australia's ability to secure its funding and provide services to the many needy clients it cares for and assists today, the submission said.

Counsel assisting the royal commission have criticised FSG's handling of the two complaints, including a proposed finding that it took no action to reduce the risk a casual carer may pose to children under its care following an abuse allegation.

In a submission published on Friday, Gail Furness SC and Tony Giugni also say agencies responsible for overseeing FSG should consider its CEO Vicki Batten's evidence to the royal commission.

"Ms Batten's belief that no one in FSG would harm a child is remarkable and concerning given the work of FSG in the care of vulnerable children," they said.

FSG said that submission is entirely inappropriate.

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