Unfortunately, many perpetrators of sexual assault are figures the victim already knows and has some form of relationship with. A report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that only 11.1 per cent of victims were assaulted by a stranger.
This rationale was demonstrated in a recent sexual assault case bought before the District Court of NSW, where a child had been abused by another minor whom he was living with.
The abuse and a battle with Anglicare
The young girl (the subject of the proceedings) had been living with – and under the care of – her foster mother since she was six weeks old. There were also a number of other children in the foster mother’s care, including an adolescent boy and girl, and a biological grandson. Earlier this year, Christian care group Anglicare received an allegation that the adolescent boy had sexually assaulted the grandson. The adolescent boy was immediately placed in alternative care and some time after was charged with five counts of sexual intercourse with the grandson under 10 years of age.
Both girls were also removed from the foster mother’s care, with the subject placed with her cousin on a short term basis. While separated, Anglicare maintained regular and supervised visits between the young girl and her foster mother. However, shortly after, they announced that the subject was to remain living with her cousin in permanent placement. This decision has led to the foster mother applying for a stay of decision by Anglicare to remove the child from her care.
When an appealing a decision, the applicant must apply for a internal review under the Administrative Decisions Review Act 1997. However, the foster mother only applied for a review and stay of decision – not the necessary internal review. Only if the Tribunal feel satisfied that the application is made within a reasonable time and must be dealt with in order to protect the applicant’s personal interests may they proceed to review.
After hearing that the separation was traumatising for both the young girl and the foster mother, who had built a strong bond over the years, the Tribunal decided to deal with the application swiftly, regardless of the missing internal review.
Despite allegations from Anglicare that the child was in a vulnerable position under the foster mother’s care, the Tribunal found these false after a lack of evidence and being aware that the perpetrator was no longer living with her. Instead, the personal interests of the young girl and her foster mother led the Tribunal to grant the application of stay, with Anglicare to arrange a date for the young girl to return to her foster mother.
Unfortunately, not all applicants are so lucky to have a court or Tribunal accept a review without all corresponding paperwork. This is why it pays to enlist the help of expert lawyers from the start, to bolster your chances of success. Get in touch with the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to discuss your options.