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Apologies to Tiffany Skeggs, Zoe Duncan for the child abuse ordeal and the disbelief of the Tasmanian authorities

The director of a child protection service has apologized to Zoe Duncan’s family and told the Tasmanian Commission of Inquiry that it was clear she had been sexually abused and the inquiry should have established this.

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

Child Safety Services (CSS) chief executive Claire Lovell also used her time on the commission’s witness stand in Launceston to apologize to Tiffany Skeggs, saying CSS should have protected her.

The Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s response to child sexual abuse in institutional settings has heard of disastrous failures at Launceston General Hospital in dealing with notorious pedophile nurse James Geoffrey Griffin and the fallout from revelations about him.

On Sunday – although the commission hearing is ongoing – the Tasmanian government announced a review of the hospital’s management, citing the likelihood of “significant changes in leadership roles”.

Close-up of a young girl's face
Zoe Duncan died of epilepsy in 2017 at the age of 28. She had refused to return to the LGH for treatment.(Supplied: Anne and Craig Duncan)

The case of Zoe Duncan

In 2001, 11-year-old Zoe Duncan was admitted to Launceston General Hospital (LGH) after suffering an asthma attack.

Her parents, Craig and Anne, previously told the commission that Zoe had told them she had been molested by a male doctor while she was there.

The Duncans immediately informed the hospital – but CSS was not notified for nine days.

Police were not notified until five months after the incident. It was the Duncans who reported it, believing the hospital wouldn’t.

Both investigations found their claims to be unfounded.

On Monday, Ms Lovell was questioned about the investigation, which was conducted before she started working at CSS.

Ms Lovell told the commission she was concerned the report accepted the doctor’s account of Zoe’s when the doctor denied the allegations, although he did not know the full extent of them.

She said there was no reason not to believe Zoe.

“It appears that she has consistently and clearly disclosed that she was sexually abused. There doesn’t seem to be any reason to discredit that,” Ms Lovell told the commission.

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