Rose and Pippa Milthorpe were five and eight when they told their parents someone close to them had been sexually abusing them for a number of years.
At just 7 and 11, they took their abuser to court, eventually getting a partial conviction, but the court system left them traumatised beyond belief.
Six years later, they have won a court battle to say their own names and today have exclusively shared their story with news.com.au to launch the Justice Shouldn’t Hurt campaign.
They are fighting to make it easier for children in sexual offence matters to give evidence. They need your help to protect other children.
Justice shouldn’t hurt, but for children in Australia, it does. The NSW Government knows how to fix this problem, but has failed to do so. That’s why news.com.au is calling for law reform to make it easier for child victims of sexual abuse to give evidence. We need 20,000 signatures today. Join the movement and sign the petition here.
What we are fighting for
Rose and Pippa want the Child Sexual Offence Evidence pilot program rolled out across NSW.
The program aims to provide greater support to child complainants and prosecution witnesses in sexual offence matters – an experience that is often stressful, harrowing and re-traumatising in itself.
Implemented at the Newcastle and Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court locations as a trial in March 2016, the pilot has two major components: allowing children to have all of their evidence prerecorded early; and to be supported by specially trained and accredited specialists, known as witness intermediaries, who help them communicate with police and the court, while preserving the rights of the accused to a fair trial.
The program has received glowing reviews, but has yet to be rolled out beyond trial locations, despite the NSW Attorney-General promising it would be made “permanent” in 2018.
The girls’ mum, Michelle Milthorpe, says it is “absolutely a double standard” that the program hasn’t been rolled out across NSW.
“It’s not fair for country kids, or for any child. There’s children in Sydney that don’t have access to this,” Michelle, who first urged the NSW Attorney-General (then Gabrielle Upton) to consider expanding the program in 2016 following her daughters’ trial.
“It’s not fair that children are not treated equally in this, because they have already been through the worst experience. They should not be re-traumatised by the legal system.”
Story Credit: news.com.au