'Beyond belief': Family services accused of ignoring abused teen facing forced child marriage

A Sydney teenager’s desperate plea to her school was reportedly ignored by the state's family services department when she told them that her parents were trying to force her into an underage marriage with an older man.

 

But the NSW Department of Family and Community Services contend the matter was being investigated by the federal police and state police.

The teenager bravely stepped forward and reported her parents’ threats after they agreed to pay a substantial dowry for a marriage she had no say in.

The disturbing case was eventually exposed by Salvation Army’s forced marriage specialist Laura Vidal, who went on to lodge a mandatory report to NSW’s Department of Family and Community Services.

FACS have been accused of ignoring the teenager's cries for help. Source: Getty (stock image)

Despite receiving details of her “physical and psychological” abuse, FACS are being accused of failing to “engage at all” with the Sydney student.

A FACS spokeswoman defended their action telling News Corp the matter was the subject of a state and federal police investigation.

“FACS responded to a report about concerns of an attempted forced marriage and was advised that the matter was being investigated by the Australian Federal Police with assistance from NSW Police,” the spokeswoman said.

But Opposition FACS spokeswoman Tania Mihailuk said that is simply not good enough and the fact that there were no resources to help a child at risk of an underage marriage was “beyond belief”.

“This child was turned away at a time when more than 70 per cent of children reported to be at risk of significant harm are not receiving a face-to-face assessment from a caseworker,” Ms Mihailuk said.

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