Roger Cook breaks silence on alleged Perth Children’s Hospital rape, claims hospital is safe

Roger Cook breaks silence on alleged Perth Children’s Hospital rape, claims hospital is safe
  • PublishedOctober 6, 2023

His comments came on the sidelines of a meeting between state and territory leaders in Adelaide, and is the first time he has publicly addressed the incident that was revealed by the ABC earlier this week.

ABC Investigations reported the girl was allegedly raped by a 13-year-old male patient in January last year in PCH’s mental health ward.

The patient crawled across the ward into the girl’s room and allegedly sexually assaulted her.

A low shot looking up at a sign on the side of Perth Children's Hospital.
The girl was allegedly sexually assaulted by the male patient in the mental health ward.(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

WA Premier Roger Cook has described the incident as “regrettable”.

“Look, our hearts go out to everyone involved in this horrible incident, this is a parent’s worst nightmare, they take their child to a hospital to be cared for,” he said.

“The system continues to improve and learn from these incidents.”

Concerns raised over male patient

On Tuesday, WA Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said prior to the incident, staff had called a supervisor as they were concerned about the male patient’s behaviour.

The minister said that supervisor told them to sequester themselves in the nursing station and then failed to follow up.

Ms Sanderson said they stayed in the nursing station for two to three hours.

A side view of Amber-Jade Sanderson at a press conference
Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson says a “full review” was launched following the incident.(ABC News: Keane Bourke)

Ms Sanderson said as soon as staff became aware of the alleged rape, referrals were made to “relevant authorities, including police”.

She said a “full review” was conducted by the Child and Adolescent Health Service and the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist, which made 10 recommendations.

Some recommendations yet to be implemented

The minister said seven of those recommendations had been implemented so far, but three others were still in progress.

Those that had not been completed included the recommendation to repurpose or close Pod 3 – where the alleged rape took place – until there were enough appropriately trained staff available, a safe model of care was in place and practical safety measures recommended by the family had been implemented.

The Chief Psychiatrist also recommended an independent expert review of the ward’s physical environment and a “working with families” framework be created, neither of which have been done.

WA Liberal leader Libby Mettam said the premier should not have travelled interstate in the wake of this incident being revealed.

A mid-shot of WA Liberal leader Libby Mettam speaking into microphones wearing spectacles and a patterned dress.
Libby Mettam questioned why all the recommendations still had not been implemented two years after the incident.(ABC News: James Carmody)

Ms Mettam said there were outstanding questions that must be answered.

“Is this ward now safe? Have protections been put in place? How many other assaults have taken place here since this alleged incident took place?” she asked.

“Why are there still uncompleted recommendations following the alleged rape some two years ago?”

Mr Cook said the government had committed $7 million to redesigning the ward and increasing staff levels in response to those recommendations.

Ward was ‘fully staffed’

But he has denied the ward was not fully staffed that evening.

“We know it was fully staffed that evening,” he said.

“The changes we’ve made in relation to staffing are about making sure we have senior staff available to support the more junior staff of the team.

“We’re confident that reconfiguration as a result of the interventions we’ve provided there will ensure that series of events will not happen again.”

He also defended his failure to answer questions in person about the safety of the hospital until today.

“I’ve been involved in a number of public events in the past week, and in fact last week I was out every day of the week,” he said.


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