A Katanning shire councillor who “unwittingly contributed” to decades of sexual abuse of children at the town’s State-run hostel has been unfairly targeted, her friend says.
The long-awaited Blaxell report into abuse of children at State-run hostels was tabled in parliament yesterday and contained adverse findings against two people who still hold positions of authority.
It followed a lengthy inquiry that initially focused on convicted paedophile brothers Dennis and Neil McKenna at the St Andrews Hostel in Katanning in the 1970s and 80s, and was later expanded to hostels in Northam, South Hedland and Merredin.
One of the people still in a position of authority, Katanning shire councillor Ainslie Evans, is “shattered” by the situation and also the recent death of her husband, her friend said.
“She was only a volunteer for three hours a week for six months,” she said today.
“Not a paid public servant, not an employee.
“There’s a lot of weight being put (on this) - misplaced, I would think.”
Ms Evans was “copping a lot of flak“, her friend said.
“She is in a state at the moment because it’s of course in the public eye again.”
Shire president Richard Kowald said Ms Evans should resign before her term expired next year.
“I personally think that probably she should,” Mr Kowald told ABC radio.
“Our local government act says we have no power - we can’t force Councillor Evans to resign.
“It’s entirely up to her, it will have to be up to her conscience and what she thinks is best for the situation.”
He offered a personal apology to the victims but said he could not make an official apology without first consulting other council members.
“It has deeply affected Katanning and will do for all of history,” Mr Kowald said.“This stigma is going to be hanging over Katanning for some time to come.”
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