Source AP ©

Officials admit welfare system failed sexually abused Aboriginal girl

Australian officials admitted that welfare system failed an Aboriginal girl who was sexually abused when she was 7 and then raped at 10, when she was returned to live to the Aboriginal community.

The case has drawn outrage in Australia after it was revealed that nine people who pleaded guilty to the second rape were paroled or had their sentences suspended by a judge who said the victim had probably consented to having sex with the offenders.

Officials in Queensland state said Monday they would launch appeal proceedings against District Court Judge Sarah Bradley's decision not to hand down custodial sentences in connection with the girl's rape in Aurukun township on Cape York in 2006.

Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh has also announced a review of all sexual assault cases on the cape - a remote, tropical region dotted by giant cattle farms and tiny Aboriginal outstations - in the past two years, amounting to about 75.

As anger surrounding the case continued to ripple across Australia , Bligh on Tuesday confirmed news reports that the girl was first sexually assaulted at Aurukun in 2002, by several juveniles who did not face court.

Bligh said the girl was taken from the community and put into foster care in the regional center of Cairns before being returned to Aurukun in April 2006, when shortly afterward she was raped by nine males, six of them younger than 16, the legal age of consent, and the others aged 17, 18, and 26.

"The system clearly failed this little girl," Bligh told reporters in the state capital of Brisbane .

One welfare officer responsible for sending the girl back to Aurukun had been fired and two others have been suspended, she said.

The case underscores fears about the breakdown of society in remote Aboriginal communities, where joblessness, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual assault and violence are reported as rampant.

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