Review announced into management at Launceston hospital in wake of damning commission of inquiry evidence

The Tasmanian government has announced it will immediately be conducting a review into child safety and the management of complaints at the Launceston General Hospital.

Key points:

    The review will be carried out despite the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government's Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings still running

    The announcement of the review comes after a week of inquiry hearings in which senior managers at the hospital gave evidence

    Tasmania's Premier apologised for the failures of governments “past and present”

The announcement comes after the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government's Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings turned its focus to the Launceston General Hospital last week.

WARNING: This article contains content that some readers may find distressing.

The inquiry has heard of catastrophic failings at the hospital around its handling of notorious paedophile James Geoffrey Griffin, who worked as a nurse on the children's ward.

During the hearings, it was revealed a senior executive at the hospital got most of her information about an investigation into Griffin from two podcasts.

The inquiry also heard Griffin's nursing supervisor said she was aware of him hugging young patients but his behaviour was “accepted by all staff” and in her opinion at the time something which could be addressed by “education”.

Another senior manager conceded to the inquiry that none of the hospital's complaints systems were adequate to identify child sexual abuse, and no one had had the training needed to identify such abuse or grooming.

Last Tuesday, a witness learned while giving evidence at the inquiry the state's health department carried out an investigation into his alleged sexual abuse at the hospital, choosing to not approach him for input — and reached the conclusion he wasn't abused.

'Significant changes to leadership roles' flagged

At a press conference on Sunday, Premier Jeremy Rockliff said the Child Safe Governance Review will look into management of the hospital and human resources. 

“This review will have a particular focus on the handling of serious misconduct such as institutional child sexual abuse through the lens of child safety,” Mr Rockliff said. 

“The terms of reference for the review are aimed to ensure public confidence and the safety of the service and to make recommendations as to changes required to improve the organisational structure, management, and leadership including implementation of mandatory training, and the establishment of an independent central complaints management unit.”

The review, announced on Sunday afternoon, will be carried out before the recommendations are released from the inquiry, which is currently underway in Launceston. 

“We will not be waiting for those recommendations when we can clearly action important matters right now,” Premier Rockliff said. 

Review announced into management at Launceston hospital in wake of damning commission of inquiry evidence

The review will comprise experts in child trauma, governance and hospital administration, with “unions and LGH staff” invited to participate.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Mr Rockliff said he wanted to “sincerely acknowledge and thank our victims and survivors, their families and their loved ones for their bravery and their courage in coming forward”.

“Those past wrongs can never ever be repeated.”

The panel for the review will be appointed this week with recommendations expected by November 2022. 

The commission is conducting hearings in Hobart and Launceston until 19 August, with live streaming available.

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