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Scepticism greets new Qld abuse initiative

AAP logoAAP 2/09/2016

Two Queensland communities plagued by disturbing levels of sexual violence and abuse are sceptical about a new push to make young people safer.

The state government on Friday received an interim report by a task force working to address serious problems in West Cairns and Aurukun.

It was appointed after the current Labor government decided to release parts of a study revealing shocking levels of sexual violence and abuse involving underage youth in the two communities.

The Smallbone study, commissioned by the previous Bligh government, found the rate of sexual offences in Aurukun was 6.6 times the Queensland average, and 2.2 times in West Cairns in the 12 years to 2012.

A quarter of the offences in West Cairns involved an offender under 18, and in Aurukun the offenders were aged between 10 and 53.

West Cairns indigenous leader Rowena Bullio, who is on the task force, admitted communities were pessimistic that anything would change.

"There's been reports and reports, changes of government, so why should this be any different, quite frankly? They are still at the buy-in stage," she told reporters in Cairns.

But fellow task force member Bruce Martin said several community groups, including the Wik Women's Group in Aurukun, were working to address sexual violence and abuse.

"They are great entry points to creating a community conversation that is confronting and difficult to have," he said.

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