Youth detention centre staff to face inquiry
Staff from the former John Oxley Youth Detention Centre at Wacol - the centre of untested child abuse claims in the late 1980s - will be questioned this morning when Queensland's Child Protection Commission of Inquiry reopens.
For the next fortnight, the inquiry at Brisbane's new magistrates court building will hear evidence into what is colloquially referred to as the Heiner inquiry allegations.
Those allegations centre around the knowledge of sexual and physical abuse of adolescents at the John Oxley Youth Detention Centre in 1988 and 1989.
Former magistrate Noel Heiner set up an inquiry into the allegations in 1989 under the Cooper government and the incoming, former Goss government shredded the documents of evidence gathered during the inquiry in March 1990.
Those allegations of child sexual abuse include the alleged pack rape in 1988 of a then 14-year-old girl and allegations that young people were handcuffed to fences at the centre.
In 2010 the then 14-year-old girl - now a 38-year-old woman - received $120,000 from the Bligh government as an out-of-court private settlement as a result of the attack on May 24, 1988, at a bush outing at Mt Barney with five John Oxley staff.
The inquiry, set up in July 1 and headed by former Queensland crime commissioner Tim Carmody, has two specific sets of reference.
The inquiry is an election promise of the Newman government and primarily it is investigating the suitability of Queensland's child protection system.
Secondly it is investigating how well the government responded to child sexual abuse allegations at all Queensland's youth detention centres.
The next fortnight's hearings fall into the terms of reference for this area of investigations.
Under this set of terms of reference there have been two days of public hearings, November 1 and November 26.
On November 1, Michael Copely - counsel assisting the inquiry - said there were "approximately 94 persons" he expected to call to give evidence before the inquiry.
These people "were employed or associated with the John Oxley Youth Centre in late 1989, early 1990," he said.
"And the officers from the Queensland Police who have been seconded to the inquiry have at my request been involved for some months now in the process of locating those people, interviewing them and obtaining statements from them."
While statements this week are expected to come from former staff at youth detention centres and police officers, Fairfax Media understands former Queensland public servants and ministers will be called in the sittings from January 22, 2013.
On November 1, Mr Copely said the witness list includes about 30 former ministers and senior public servants with knowledge of former magistrate Noel Heiner's inquiry.
That could include former Queensland premier Wayne Goss, his then chief-of-staff Kevin Rudd, and the centre's former manager Peter Coyne.
"There are witnesses who worked for the state of Queensland and who have yet to be approached in connection with providing statements in relation to their involvement in the establishment of the inquiry by Mr Noel Heiner, the conduct of the inquiry by Mr Heiner and the decision to terminate the inquiry conducted by Mr Heiner," he said.
The inquiry reconvenes this morning, December 3, at 10am.