Sheep graze on the dry lake bed of Lake George, near the Australian capital city of Canberra, March 14, 2005. Drought conditions worsened slightly in the Australian state of New South Wales last month, threatening crops, the state government said on Monday. The main summer crops being pressured are cotton and feed grain sorghum, while soybeans were also affected. David Gray/Reuters
Social services in Australia have published a judgment in a child welfare case that outlines a shocking case of inter-generational incest in a family apparently living in squalor in an isolated area outside of Sydney.
According to the Children’s Court of New South Wales, 11 children were removed from a 40-member family living in a makeshift camp of tents and old caravans with no running water or electricity on the outskirts of a community of about 2,000 people southwest of Sydney.
Officials say the children — who range in age from five to 15 years old — were dirty, wore dirty clothing, weren’t able to make eye contact and appeared to have “very poor” hygiene.
The children apparently ate with their hands, seemed to suffer genetic abnormalities and had difficulty speaking.
Psychologists and social workers who have assessed the children described them as engaging in “sexualized behaviours” and say they had engaged in “inappropriate sexual conduct” with one another.
Social workers believe the extended family all descend from a patriarch who died in 2009 and fathered children from both his daughter and granddaughter. Genetic testing shows the 11 children have parents who are related to each other.
The family first came to the attention of social workers in 2010, but is believed to have been living in similar conditions for decades in various parts of Australia.
Between February 2010 and July 2012, officials received seven “risk of significant harm” reports about the children relating to neglect, failure to seek necessary medical attention and failure to maintain a hygienic domestic living environment.
The children were eventually removed from the property by police on July 18, 2012, and placed in government care.
All of the children will remain in government care until they reach the age of 18.