Lateline's Mutitjulu Sexual Abuse Story

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

On May 15, 2006 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's respected television current affairs program Lateline aired a story on reports of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities. The program reported on a dossier on domestic violence compiled by the Crown Prosecutor for central Australia, Nanette Rogers. [1]

The next morning, the influential syndicated talkback show host, John Laws took the issue up with the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough. Brough sketched that one of the changes he was pushing was that financial assistance to Aboriginal communities be conditional on factions such as "good governance." This, he told Laws,"means that the people who are running organisations are not criminals, and that does occur in many of these communities. They are actually running the paedophile rings, they are running the alcohol, they are running the petrol into some of these communities. I mean, they are known, they're known facts and that needs to be dealt with." [2]

That evening Lateline presenter Tony Jones reported that there had been many calls to to the program reporting incidents, including reports of "babies and children being raped and molested" in Western Australia. [3] Lateline also interviewed Brough, who stated that such incidents were widespread "wherever there are Indigenous communities" in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia. "People have been hiding behind what I would call a thin veneer of cultural behaviour or a cultural significance and that is why it occurs and it is nothing but lies ... They are simply criminals that need to be dealt with in that fashion. I, quite frankly, think it's wonderful that this has been highlighted to the rest of the Australian public so people can have their sensitivities shocked to the core and as a nation, not just as politicians, but as a nation, we demand that these things change," Brough stated. [4]

Later in the interview Jones asked Brough about the fact that Opal fuel - which doesn't give petrol sniffers a 'high' and has been promoted as a way of dramtically curbing the problem - was then available in only one petrol station in Alice Spings. Brough dismissed the suggestion that petrol sniffing was a "fundamental issue". "Until you get out the root cause and it comes back to the fundamental issue I keep speaking about, and that's law and order and maintaining it. Everybody in those communities knows who runs the paedophile rings. They know who brings in the petrol and they know who sells the ganja. They need to be taken out of the community and dealt with, not by tribal law, but by the judicial system that operates throughout Australia. We're all equal in this country and we should all be treated the same way," he said. [5]

While there was acknowedgement that domestic violence and sexual abuse was a problem, Brough was criticised for failing to produce any evidence to support his claims that "paedophile rings" were operating in Aboriginal communities. The Chief Minister of the Norther Territory, Clare Martin, challenged Brough to provide evidence to police to support his claim that paedophile rings were operating in Aboriginal communities. "Under our law, if you know of paedophile activity you must report it to police. So I'm calling on Mal Brough today to put up or shut up," she told ABC Radio National's PM program. The NT's Minister for Police, Paul Henderson, insisted that when he asked the Northern Territory's Police Commissioner whether there was evidence that paedophile rings were operating in Aboriginal communities, he was told there wasn't. [6]

After being challenged, Brough retreated. "Let me explain what I mean by a paedophile ring. It's not people getting on the net, as you hear about down here. It doesn't work like that. But if a number of people know that someone is committing a crime, allows that crime to continue, and there are others in the community committing the crime, what else do we want to call it?," he said. [7]

Zeroing In On Mutijulu

The following month, Lateline returned to the story and concentrated on claims against a man "who traded petrol for sex with young girls in the community of Mutijulu". The program featured six people who were described as having "lived in Mutijulu and the central deserts between 2000 and early 2006". One of the six was an "anonymous former youth worker" who broadly supported Brough's claims that there a number of paedophiles operating in the Aboriginal communities.

"The people who are in control are the drug dealers and the petrol warlords and the paedophiles," he said. "...It's true that there are predatory men in the central deserts who are systematically abusing young children. I've been told by a number of people of men in the region who go to other communities and get young girls and bring them back to their community and keep them there as sex slaves and... exchange sex for petrol with those young petrol sniffers." [8]

The 'Anonymous Former Youth Worker'

Subsequently National Indigenous Times (NIT) revealed that the anonymous interviewee was Gregory Andrews, a branch head in the government agency advising Brough on Aboriginal policy. [9] (In May 2007, a member of the Mutitjulu community, Leslie Calma, was summonsed to appear in court to be charged for stalking Andrews between July and October 2006). [10]

Following NIT revealing Andrew's identity, Federal police raided the home of a government employee seeking computer and other records indicating whether Ms. Tjanara Goreng had contact with the newspaper.

Other SourceWatch Resources


  1. Suzanne Smith, "Paper reveals sexual abuse, violence in NT Indigenous communities", "Lateline", May 15, 2006.
  2. John Laws, "Interview with Mal Brough", "The John Laws Morning Show", 2UE Radio, May 16, 2006.
  3. Tony Jones, "Paedophile rings operating in remote communities: Brough", "Lateline", ABC TV, May 16, 2006.
  4. "Paedophile rings operating in remote communities: Brough", "Lateline", ABC TV, May 16, 2006.
  5. "Paedophile rings operating in remote communities: Brough", "Lateline", ABC TV, May 16, 2006.
  6. Jean Kennedy, "Mundine weighs into child abuse debate", PM, ABC Radio National, May 17, 2006.
  7. Jean Kennedy, "Mundine weighs into child abuse debate", PM, ABC Radio National, May 17, 2006.
  8. Suzanne Smith, "Sexual abuse reported in Indigenous community", "Lateline", June 21, 2006.
  9. Chris Graham, Brian Johnstone & Amy McQuire , "OIPC's 'Baby-Faced Assassin': Senior public servant adopts bogus identity; backs minister's claims", National Indigenous Times, Issue 109, July 13, 2006.
  10. "Warrant issued for Mutitjulu man", Sydney Morning Herald, May 16, 2007.

External links




This article is a stub. You can help by expanding it.