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Kimberley Leader Says Police Comissioner Should Step Down Over Child Abuse Claim

The chairman of the Kimberley Land Council wants WA's Police Commissioner to produce evidence of alleged sexual abuse.

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Chairman of the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) Anthony Watson has demanded that the Western Australian Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan either produce evidence of sexual abuse in communities or step down from his position.

Allan Clarke // BuzzFeed News

"He should stand down. He made these allegations, he should back them up with facts he needs to produce evidence to back his words up and if he knew about this all these years he should have done something," Mr Watson told BuzzFeed News.

Commissioner O'Callaghan told the ABC's Four Corners program last month that he supported closure of some remote communities and that sexual abuse was rampant within them and incidents were grossly underreported.

"Police officers up there have said to me on more than one occasion that they cannot sleep at night, worrying about what's happening in those communities - communities that they're supposed to be responsible for protecting," he said. "The same applies to me. Knowing what I know, it's very difficult to sleep at night knowing that we cannot protect those children in any effective way."

It comes after the Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett announced that they would close up to 150 remote communities because the state couldn't afford to keep running essential services in them.

That sparked a nation-wide protest movement, Mr Barnett has since backflipped on the closures and promised more consultation with Aboriginal organisations over the future of remote communities.

"Statistics about the magnitude of child sexual abuse in remote Aboriginal communities are unreliable, mainly because of deliberate under-reporting," Commissioner O’Callaghan wrote in The West Australian in March.

Western Australia Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan. (Angie Raphael / AAPIMAGE)

"The Australian Institute of Family Studies has estimated that up to 90 per cent of sexual abuse in these communities is under-reported," he wrote.

Mr Watson has responded to the claims, saying that if the police knew about the abuse they should have made arrests.

"It just shows that he and his officers aren't doing their jobs in the community," he said.

Mr Watson says that any fruitful future partnerships between Kimberley Aboriginal organisations and the state government over the operations of remote communities would stall if the issue isn't resolved.

"It's demonising the Indigenous community of the Kimberley. Demonising us men as all rapists and child abusers."

BuzzFeed News has requested comment from the Western Australia Police Commissioner.

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