[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 May 2006, 07:28 GMT 08:28 UK
'Abuse rife at Aboriginal camps'
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Aborigines in the bush
Aborigines are Australia's most disadvantaged community
A leaked report in Australia has detailed horrific levels of sexual abuse in remote Aboriginal communities, including the rape of a baby.

A prosecutor in the Northern Territory has alleged that violence against women and children has become entrenched in many areas.

Many crimes go unreported, with victims afraid to speak out, she said.

The territory's government says it will urgently address the lack of adequate policing in remote Aboriginal camps.


Some of the cases contained in the leaked police briefing paper are almost beyond belief.

At an Aboriginal camp in central Australia, a four-year-old girl drowned while being raped by a teenager who had been sniffing petrol.

In other cases two very young children - including a seven-month old baby - were sexually assaulted by adult men while their mothers were elsewhere drinking alcohol. Both children needed surgery for their injuries.
All child sexual assault in central Australia is happening at much higher rates than are currently being reported to police
Dr Nanette Rogers
Prosecutor, Northern Territory

Dr Nanette Rogers, who is a Crown prosecutor in the Northern Territory, said that Aboriginal settlements were suffering from tragedy fatigue, where monstrous crimes appeared unremarkable.

Dr Rogers said that many victims were too afraid to speak to the police, fearful of reprisals from within their community.

"All child sexual assault in central Australia is happening at much higher rates than are currently being reported to police," she said.

"Horrible offences committed on really small children, it is beyond most people's comprehension and range of human experience."

Dr Rogers has blamed indigenous culture for the problems, where men often feel they can disregard the law and act with impunity.

Central Australia has the highest murder rate in Australia, at 10 times the national average. Alcohol and drug abuse have caused many impoverished native settlements to self-destruct.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific