Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Victims welcome inquiry into allegations of a -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Victims of a notorious paedophile who abused boys at a state hostel in Western Australia say
they're pleased there will finally be an inquiry. It's believed former hostel manager Dennis John
McKenna may have abused more than 100 boys at Katanning in the 1970s and 80s. The WA Premier has
announced an inquiry into the response of officials at the time.

TONY EASTLEY: Victims of a notorious paedophile who abused boys at a state hostel in Western
Australia say they're pleased there will finally be an inquiry.

It's believed the former hostel manager Dennis John McKenna abused more than 100 boys at Katanning
in the 1970s and '80s.

Former government employees and youth workers say their warnings about McKenna were ignored. The WA
Premier has announced an inquiry into the response of agencies and officials at the time.

David Weber reports.

DAVID WEBER: Dennis John McKenna is currently serving his second prison term after being convicted
of sex offences.

Todd Jefferies helped convict McKenna the first time, 20 years ago.

TODD JEFFERIES: There were five of us had charges laid against him which we went to court for. He
was found guilty on a majority of those charges and was sentenced to six years, nine months and
served only 18 months.

DAVID WEBER: What's your reaction to the Government's decision to launch this enquiry?

TODD JEFFERIES: Oh well, look, look, it is good news to us. I mean we've been fighting against this
for a long time. We've known fully what we've been up against in terms of trying to get this case
into light and particularly the fact that we've known people have suppressed this, people have
hidden this.

As a result of speaking out, we've copped all sorts of ridicule and victimisation from people in
positions of authority that should have been doing something about it.

DAVID WEBER: Why do you think it has taken this long? Why wasn't this inquiry or why didn't people
come forward in the early 1990s saying yes, this man has now been sentenced for these crimes and we
warned the authorities and they did nothing about it?

TODD JEFFERIES: Well, that's a very good question. I mean, it was stated in an article in the Great
Southern Herald in 1991 that an inquiry was unlikely and the reason there wasn't going to be an
inquiry in '91 was because the same people who had protected him or decided to ignore these claims
prior to '91 were still in the positions of authority in '91.

So I'm sure there is going to be some people exposed in a rather large way. Now we already have a
lot of information together as it is now about who knew what and obviously we couldn't name names
as it were but certainly as soon as this enquiry starts, we'll have no hesitation in dropping some
names.

DAVID WEBER: Mike Hilder stayed at the hostel in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Mr Hilder says he
believes the inquiry does have the power to expose what the authorities knew.

MIKE HILDER: Oh, I think there'll be a lot of nervous people around. We were only kids. We were
going to school, we were doing our study, we had no idea of who was running the hostel, who was in
charge of the hostel board, the country high school hostels. This is the sort of thing that we want
to find out. Who are those people in higher places that were protecting him at the time?

DAVID WEBER: Mr Hilder says the inquiry will probably inspire more men to come forward and reveal
that they too were abused by McKenna.

TONY EASTLEY: David Weber.