Reports of abuse at hospital were treated as a “prank”: Commission

Reports of abuse at hospital were treated as a “prank”: Commission

A child abuse inquiry has been told calls made by a victim of abuse at the Melbourne Children’s Hospital were rejected and regarded as a prank.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is  currently holding public hearings, in to allegations of child abuse at  Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital and the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

One woman, who was abused as a 12-year-old after being hospitalised for asthma at RCHM, has given evidence at the Commission today.

The woman, identified only as AWI, says she was molested multiple times each week by hospital  volunteer Harry Pueschel and another young male volunteer.

“Harry touched me over my clothing, on my breast. In particular, his hands were stroking my chest,” AWI told the commission.

“I remember sitting on his knee and looking out the window, wishing that someone would walk into the playroom and see what was actually going on.”

The Commission header she tried reporting the abuse, but her calls were rejected by a receptionist, who told her it was illegal to make prank phone calls.

The hospital’s former chief executive, Dr John De Campo has also given evidence, admitting he did not do enough to investigate the allegations.

Dr De Campo stoof Peuschel down in 1997, but did not include the allegations in his termination letter, despite AWI emailing him about the accusations.

“In my mind, the allegation made was substantial, serious and significant enough to take those actions without interrogating Harry,” Dr De Campo told the commission.

The hearing continues.

About author

Libby Dreyer
Libby Dreyer 1729 posts

Libby has worked as a Senior Journalist at National Radio News since February 2011. She graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Canberra in December 2010.

View all posts by this author →

You might also like


Increasing GST to 15 per cent could raise $130b – report

New figures from the Parliamentary Budget Office have revealed Australia could raise an $130 billion in tax revenue a year, if the GST was increased to 15 per cent, and


Parliamentary Committee to investigate sale of Uranium to India

A public hearing is taking place today to discuss the future and implications of Australia’s proposed agreement to sell and export uranium to India.


High Court rules asylum seeker TPV is invalid

Human rights lawyers say a High Court ruling on temporary protection visas, could have implications for thousands of asylum seekers.


IBAC begins first public hearings

Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog will begin public hearings today as it examines allegations of corrupt practices in Victoria’s Department of Transport.