System protects abusers, Tas survivor says

·3-min read

A child sexual abuse survivor in Tasmania has told an inquiry the alleged perpetrator never faced court even though there was a "good body of evidence".

Robert Boost, who was abused for several years from the age of nine in the 1990s by a senior school staffer, said the system was geared towards protecting adults and not keeping children safe.

Mr Boost came forward to police in 2020, providing a statement which formed part of an investigation.

The matter didn't reach court because of a lack of corroborating evidence, the inquiry was told.

"From what I was told, there was a good body of evidence," Mr Boost said on Monday.

"The (Director of Public Prosecutions) said I'd make a reliable witness but they weren't going to proceed with taking it to court.

"At the end of the day I was pretty upset by that. I'm not 100 per cent sure why (it wasn't proceeded with).

"Being historical - and the fact I was a little kid and the perpetrator was an adult in a powerful position - makes it much harder for me to give solid evidence, I suppose."

The inquiry, which is holding its final two hearing days this week ahead of delivering a report by May, is examining responses to child sexual abuse allegations across Tasmania's public service.

Head of the Department of Justice, Ginna Webster, said decisions made by the Director of Public Prosecutions were a matter for them.

"It is an independent statutory decision maker. These decisions are made not because witnesses are not believed," she told the inquiry.

"They're often made for a range of reasons and I'm not familiar with that case."

Mr Boost said the power imbalance that began with him being groomed from the age of five has carried through to adulthood.

"The perpetrator is ... protected by the system because he did what he did when I was a little kid," he said.

"That has worked in his advantage. If he'd done the same things when I was 18 ... it would be a whole different story."

Mr Boost said there was "no way" he could have reported the abuse, by a "trusted and charismatic" man, at the time.

He called for the education department to ensure behavioural complaints against workers were aired and for parents, teachers and children to be given greater education about grooming.

"We spend so much time worrying about adults' feelings rather than the impacts on the kids," Mr Boost said.

"A lot gets said about protecting anonymity and making sure people's reputations aren't hurt. God forbid someone might lose a job.

"What's not getting spoken about enough is that we need to the protect the kids."

Head of the Department of Education, Tim Bullard, described Mr Boost's evidence as confronting.

"His trust was let down and I'm incredibly sorry for what he suffered at the hands of the perpetrator. I recognise that we need to learn from that experience," he said.

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