Saul Dismont of law firm Marshall, Diel and Myers has sent us this statement following our story on allegations of child abuse and neglect at the Department of Child and Family Services. Dismont’s letter to the Minister of Social Development and Sport was at the instruction of Litigation Guardian Tiffanne Thomas an independent representative of a child who had alleged abuse at the child protection agency.
It is understood that the media has been making references to a letter from Marshall Diel & Myers Limited in relation to our representation of children. We cannot comment on the possible suspension of the Director, but due to some confusion over our role and the allegations being reported, we are compelled to provide some information.
We confirm that we represent a child who is the subject of the letter. The child fortunately had the rare benefit of having been appointed a Litigation Guardian, who is an independent social worker with no affiliation with the Department of Child and Family Services. The Litigation Guardian is obligated to protect the welfare of the child and after having had access to the child’s file at the Department, the Litigation Guardian found reports by other children that the child had been assaulted by a member of staff and that other children had been treated negligently.
Further, there was evidence of other staff members being concerned that the person accused of the assault had not been suspended and was still being allowed to work with the child. Further, that the child had then been subjected to threats. The Litigation Guardian immediately instructed us to apply for a restraining order to prevent the staff member from having any contact with the child. The court granted the order with the addition of other members of staff accused of negligence. The order has since been extended.
We were also instructed by the Litigation Guardian to raise the alarming issues with the Minister, which we did by letter. The extracts of that letter on the Royal Gazette and Politica are accurate, but to be clear, the letter did not contain any allegation that the Director had himself assaulted a child. We wholly support the investigation of anyone alleged to have abused or neglected a child, particularly where it involves a person working with children. We also support any inquiry deemed necessary of those responsible for ensuring the welfare of our children.
It is sincerely hoped that the issues raised reaffirms the importance of children having the protection of the appointment of Litigation Guardians and lawyers. We welcome Minister Weeks’ statements in support of such representation but presently, it is an extreme rarity that children have a Litigation Guardians and lawyers. The government needs to commit to resolving that failure as a matter of urgency, today.”
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