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Australian Politicians/ Contacts
Downer 'Refused' To Warn Of Child Abuse In Bali Creches
FOREIGN Minister Alexander Downer refused a request
from Justice Minister Chris Ellison to issue a travel
advisory warning parents about the dangers of sexual
assaults in childcare centres at two exclusive Bali resorts.
Senator Ellison sent a request to Mr Downer that travel
advisories about Bali be changed to include warnings about
the safety of childcare facilities in the popular holiday
destination after a three-year-old girl was sexually
abused - contracting gonorrhoea - while being minded in
a creche at the Sheraton Nusa Indah and a five-year-old
boy was orally raped after attending a "kids club" at
another nearby resort.
However, Senator Ellison's request, made on behalf of the
families of the victims, was not acted on.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will tell the
ABC's Lateline program tonight it had given careful
consideration to reviewing its travel advice for Indonesia,
given the seriousness of the allegations.
It concluded it would not be appropriate to make a specific
reference in its travel advice because of the lack of
conclusive evidence. This was despite the girl's family
receiving a $60,000 out-of-court settlement from the
Sheraton Overseas Management Corporation, after they sued
the resort chain for negligence in the Victorian Supreme Court.
In the case of the five-year-old boy, his mother alleges
that in 2003 a man entered the childcare centre and told
their son he had broken a slide and he had been a very
naughty boy and had to go to jail.
She said the man took the boy into a nearby room where he
orally raped him.
The boy's family had written to Senator Ellison seeking a
change to travel advisories to list the Bali hotel resorts
whose childcare facilities did not meet Australian standards.
In correspondence, obtained by Lateline, Mr Downer advised
Senator Ellison there were too many hotels to list in such
"While I appreciated the purpose behind the suggestions, it is
unfortunately not possible to compile a global list of childcare
centres that do not comply with Australian standards," Mr Downer
told Senator Ellison in April last year.
He said DFAT did provide specific advice to Australians who
wanted to use childcare services overseas.
"Our consular travel booklet published in January 2004 now
includes specific advice on arranging childcare services
overseas," he wrote.
The girl's parents allege their daughter was sexually assaulted
at the Little Star Club children's creche at the five-star Sheraton
Nusa Dua resort during a family holiday in January 2001.
The parents did not know about the attacks while they were in Bali,
but on their return to Australia they noticed their daughter had a
heavy discharge from her genitals and a temperature of 40C.
Tests conducted by a family doctor showed she was suffering from
The parents then sued Sheraton Overseas Management Corporation,
which did not admit responsibility and denied the allegations. In
July last year, the parties reached an out-of-court settlement involving
a payment to the girl of $62,000 and some legal costs.
During their own investigation of the matter, the parents discovered the
carers on duty at the creche during their stay at the resort had applied
for jobs including pool and laundry attendants, apprentice pastry chef
In April 2003, the Australian Federal Police told the parents that
Indonesian police had closed the case after reporting that Sheraton
creche workers had tested negative for gonorrhoea.
In November 2003, the child protection advocacy group Bravehearts said
alerts and warnings to parents should be standard. The group called for
a general alert notice to Australians travelling overseas that there was
a reasonable concern about childcare centres.
The father of the girl accused the Government of ignoring their plight,
saying he had written two letters to Mr Downer before he replied.
David King/ Elizabeth Gosch
Warnings Of Abuse
THE Federal Government would issue a
travel warning if it had
evidence of child abuse
in an overseas childcare
centre, Foreign Affairs
Downer said yesterday.
Mr Downer, however,
said there had not been
sufficient evidence to do
so in the case of two
families' complaints to
him on childcare facilities at Bali resorts.
After reports a two-
year-old girl was abused
in a Nusa Dua creche in
2001 and a five-year-old
boy in a playground two
years later. Justice Minister Chris Ellison
sought a travel warning
from Mr Downer. Mr
Downer said the request
was considered but
there was no evidence to
warrant a warning.
Child protection campaigner Hetty Johnston
said: "Clearly there's a
genuine and reasonable
concern for children out
at these creches."
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