Immigration Minister Peter Dutton
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton AAP

ABC admits error over five-year-old rape allegation

ABC News has released a correction over an error in its reporting that alleged that a five-year-old asylum seeker boy was raped then faced being sent back to an offshore detention centre where his accused attacker still remained.

Immigration Department officials denied the reports in a Senate estimates committee on Monday, saying the alleged victim in the story was actually older than 10 years old and was exposed to "skin to skin contact" with another child.

Department of Immigration and Border Protection secretary Michael Pezzullo said the reports were an example of "advocacy parading as journalism" that was harming discussions around asylum seekers and offshore detention.

The ABC's full statement is below:

Our source, the treating doctor told our reporters about two cases. One was an older child," the ABC said in a statement.

"The doctor stands by her statement that this child was allegedly raped on Nauru.

"She also told our reporters about another of her patients, a five-year-old who was allegedly sexually assaulted on Nauru.

"Our story incorrectly used quotes about the older child in referring to the younger child.

"In addition on at least one occasion the incident was referred to as a rape instead of an alleged rape.

"ABC News apologises for the errors and confusion."



EARLIER: ABC reports five-year-old asylum seeker and rape victim to be sent back to detention.

E Government will consider medical advice before deciding whether to deport a five-year-old boy allegedly raped on Nauru back to the Pacific island, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says.

Doctors have detailed their concerns about the child to the ABC, along with worries about the wellbeing and safety of about 160 other children held in Australia's detention centres.

The boy could be returned to Nauru, where his alleged attacker remains, after a decision is handed down today by the High Court about the legality of detention on the island.

Paediatrician Karen Zwi, speaking out despite the threat of jail, said the boy suffered serious mental health problems after the alleged sexual assault and began to self-harm.

Mr Dutton told Lateline the paediatricians' concerns for the boy would be taken into account.