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Chris Ellison discusses the Bali abuse claims -

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Chris Ellison discusses the Bali abuse claims investigation

Reporter: Tony Jones

TONY JONES: As you heard earlier, the Justice Minister, Senator Chris Ellison, has been in regular
contact with at least one of the families after a meeting in February last year. He is also
responsible for the Australian Federal Police who were involved in investigating the cases. I spoke
to him just a short time ago.

TONY JONES: Chris Ellison, thanks for joining us.

CHRIS ELLISON: Good evening, Tony.

TONY JONES: Do you believe these two children were abused by paedophiles in Bali?

CHRIS ELLISON: I certainly think there's compelling evidence that would indicate that child abuse
had occurred in the first case, medical evidence which was quite shocking, and in the second case,
compelling evidence that certainly the child in that case had been abused.

TONY JONES: Do you accept that the chain of evidence, the chain of events leads you to believe or
leads one to believe that these assaults happened in the hotels the children were staying in?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, I think that the evidence would tend to point that way. In the first case, the
child was only, I think, aged 2, so that the evidence there of the child could not play a part as
much as in the second case, where the child was older and able to give an account of what happened.
But look, I think the thing to remember is that the perpetrator could have been a visitor to the
hotel, a guest at the hotel - it could have been anyone - and we don't want to jump to conclusions.

TONY JONES: But nonetheless, it looks like, since both of these children were in childcare centres,
the assaults may well have happened - and particularly in the second case, where there's fairly
clear evidence - inside a childcare centre in a hotel?

CHRIS ELLISON: Certainly there's evidence that you would think would point that way. But as I say,
I don't want to jump to any conclusions. Investigations have been carried out and unfortunately, in
both cases, the offender hasn't been apprehended.

TONY JONES: That goes to the offender, but the question that is being raised now by the families,
particularly the second family, is: why were there no specific warnings about people taking their
children to childcare centres in Balinese hotels when the evidence already pointed in the direction
of there being problems in those childcare centres?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, I think, Tony, what you have to realise is that although these were shocking
incidents - and I certainly am very concerned at both of these incidents - you have an incident
which occurred at one resort and another which occurred allegedly two years later at another
resort. I've not had any evidence put to me of any systemic behaviour, of any systemic failing in
relation to any particular resort in relation to child abuse. But having said that, certainly the
government views this with great concern, and the Australian Federal Police in both cases carried
out an investigation and regarded it very seriously.

TONY JONES: I'll come back to that investigation in a moment, if I can. First, do you concede that
had clear warnings been given after the rape of the little girl in 2001, the second family might
have thought twice about putting their child into a Balinese hotel childcare centre?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, that's a hypothetical question.

TONY JONES: Not for the family, it isn't.

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, the fact is, you have to ask yourself whether someone would have, in fact,
read that warning. But can I say the Department of Foreign Affairs has issued a general warning in
relation to childcare facilities, and if you look at the tips for parents travelling, there are
references to that there. I would say to parents: look, whether you're travelling overseas or
travelling in Australia, you should make due inquiry as to the adequate care arrangements for your
children if you're leaving them in childcare facilities. But of course, this is - these two
incidents are of great concern. They're both tragedies involving young children, and of course, we
would have wanted the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

TONY JONES: At a meeting with you in February last year, you were urged by the representatives of
the little boy's family to make sure that there was a specific travel warning saying that there
have been paedophile attacks in children's clubs in Indonesia. Does it worry you at all that no
specific warnings, even to this date, have been put in the travel advice?

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, as the Foreign Minister has said, there are warnings contained in the hints
for travellers, tips for travelling parents which refer to childcare arrangements and also refer to
the National Childcare Accreditation Council as well as Childwise, and they are both bodies which
are respected bodies in the fight against child abuse.

TONY JONES: Alright. But we've checked the web site, and nowhere in any of these web sites -
including the Childwise web site, which you're sent to when you go to these web sites - is there
any reference to attacks on children in Bali.

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, I think that if you look at the travel advisory, it refers to making due
inquiry about the accreditation level of the staff, the standards concerned in relation to the
childcare facilities, and of course, that is a warning that should be given.

TONY JONES: Are you personally disappointed that you couldn't do what the family specifically asked
of you, that the government couldn't achieve that?

CHRIS ELLISON: I'm personally disappointed we couldn't apprehend the offenders in these cases, and
that does disappoint me greatly. Now, of course, we want to heighten awareness in relation to these
issues, these sorts of issues, and I guess the this story alone will do that, and I would urge all
Australian parents watching this program that if they're travelling in Australia or outside of
Australia, to make those sorts of inquiries. I've got three children under 6 myself, and I know
that when you travel, you do tend to drop your guard, when you go on holidays, and I would say:
make due inquiry where you're going to stay as to the level of care that's provided to your
children.

TONY JONES: Let's turn to the AFP investigation. Was the AFP able to conduct its own investigations
into these two cases, or did it have to rely on the Indonesian police to do those investigations?

CHRIS ELLISON: The Australian Federal Police in both cases worked with the Indonesian police. In
the second instance, we had the incident occurring in November of 2003. Some three months later, we
opened our Australian Federal Police office in Bali, and having someone on the ground there
facilitated an investigation there which was one which we could look at the facts ourselves and
work with the Indonesian police.

TONY JONES: That's three months later, three months after the attack. I mean, was there any AFP
involvement immediately after the attack?

CHRIS ELLISON: Yes. A week after the receipt of that letter, we had the Jakarta Australian Federal
Police contacting and working with Indonesian police in Bali, and in the first case, they did the
same as well. So certainly, the Australian Federal Police did all it could. Now, you have to
remember, this is in another country, it's not in Australia, and of course, there's some
limitations in what we can do. We don't have the powers that we have here in Australia with our
Federal Police.

TONY JONES: So they weren't able to investigate themselves - they weren't able to do interviews
with the potential suspects in the hotels, or were they?

CHRIS ELLISON: They certainly did as much as they could, and I understand that in the one case,
they carried out an interview which was with a person concerned - I'm not saying that person was a
suspect. But of course, with these sorts of cases, to get forensic evidence is very important, and
when it happens in a foreign jurisdiction, you don't have control of the investigation from that
initial point.

TONY JONES: In the first case, for example, the case of the 2-year-old girl who was raped and ended
up with gonorrhoea, when testing the hotel staff for gonorrhoea, we've been told the Indonesian
police only conducted urine tests and that urine tests alone are not enough to determine whether
anyone is infected with gonorrhoea.

CHRIS ELLISON: Well, I'm no forensic expert, so I can't comment on that, but what I can say is that
the Indonesian police did carry out an investigation with the Australian Federal Police, working
with them. We have limitations in what we can do in another country. I mean, Tony, we just can't
march into another country and say, "You're going to do X, Y, Z in a particular investigation." We
have to work with them in their own system. And the Indonesian police did carry out an
investigation, and unfortunately, the perpetrator was not found.

TONY JONES: Chris Ellison, we'll have to leave it there. We thank you very much for coming in to
talk to us tonight on Lateline.

CHRIS ELLISON: Thank you.