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The Forum > Article Comments > Child abuse by another name > Comments

Child abuse by another name : Comments

By Patmalar Ambikapathy Thuraisingham, published 9/7/2007

Does the PM intend, in accordance with Article 12 of the UNCROC, to ask the children of the Northern Territory what their views are?

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If nothing else, the fact that this writer has been fighting this battle for twenty three years from a position of power and legal knowledge should say something.

Childhood molestation is still the most hidden of all crimes in our society. Those who do come forward are often inarticulate, powerless and easily intimidated. And, let us not forget also, that those who do come forward are often victims of a legal system which does not help them.

The community spends so much time and effort discrediting impersonal statistics, trying to put the blame on whichever section of society their personal beliefs cause them to demonise (liberals, the unemployed, aborigines, feminists, lefties, misogynist men, etc) and comfortably putting the issue to the back of their minds when they are not fulminating upon it, that the matter is never exposed for the the horror that it is.

I agree wholeheartedly with this article - and the point made about the numbers who are affected constituting a pandemic is one I have consistently used myself. One or two cases of bird flu sends Australia into a panic. Thousands of children living in terror does not?

On this forum alone people have admitted to having been victims and spoken of the scars they carry. I once recounted an anecdote of sitting with three total strangers one day, and all of us eventually finding we shared this legacy. Between us 17 (yes seventeen) perpetrators were uncovered - not one of whom was ever brought to justice. Yet this shameful fact was never commented on except, in another post, to throw doubt upon my veracity.

People are encouraged to pledge support to a little child in Africa or elsewhere. If every person over the age of 18 in Australia who has been molested stood up to be counted and pledged support to help, we would have a groundswell of support that could not be ignored and the plight of children, not only of the Northern Territory, but Australia-wide, could no longer be ignored in the courts or in society.
Posted by Romany, Monday, 9 July 2007 10:03:57 AM
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Sometimes it takes the worst of problems to bring about lasting solutions.

Where were you, Patmalar, when we were fighting a skirmish in a battle for human, especially children's, rights in 2003? Young people I know of wanted advocacy, and still need it.

Children are the single largest minority group in Australia to have their human rights denied every day, and as a result, they are constantly abused.

Many want us to believe we have human rights and can hand over control and all our power to government. This is in the forlorn belief that government will fix all our problems. Yet we know that government is not capable of doing that, and cannot and should not be entrusted with such responsibility, because it comes to individuals to live in ways that suit them. Then, we expect all individuals to be assertive, to know and stand up for their rights and be heard, for governments to support their expressed needs.

Adults are so accustomed to doing things to and for children, they overlook how capable children can be, when theyíre empowered.

Like Patmalar's 5 year old client, young people are intelligent, whole people who do have a voice and can express their needs, if they have the opportunity, are respected and listened to in a safe supportive environment. Some young people in Queensland in 2003 decided they would have a child psychologist speak with them to determine if they really could communicate their needs effectively. This was only to counter demeaning, false claims of government appointed bureaucrats. Neither the psychologist's report nor a poignant, intelligent submission initiated and written by young people to a Minister (nor submissions by parents nor claims of the denials of many human rights) were responded to.

The issue of alleged abuse against indigenous children is sickening. They must have the opportunity to be heard, and their needs listened to, in a safe environment. How can an environment be safe for indigenous Australians, so that they develop self-respect and take responsibility for themselves?
Posted by Derek@Booroobin, Monday, 9 July 2007 12:59:32 PM
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patmalar - thank you for this cogent and timely critique of the current 'plan' (which appears to change daily - viz there will be compulsory medical checks for child abuse; there will be compulsory medical checks for 'everything'; there will be compulsory medical checks for 'everything' - except child abuse; there will be compulsory medical checks for 'everything' except child abuse and for child abuse 'only' where 'indicated' - whatever that means). thank you also for positive suggestions as to a constructive, united approach.

undoubtedly, the current 'plan' will give rise not only to political abuse of children (and communities) but also to the need for legal representation and recognition of children as humanbeings with rights. as pointed out in the article, it is astounding that it has taken until 2007 to have recognised that children are entitled to independent representation in children's court proceedings. 'guidelines' of legal aid bodies (such as the victorian legal aid commission - hitherto astonishingly accepted as 'right' by the children's court) need to be changed to recognise that children are entitled to representation not only in the family court, and that 'guidelines' that breach this right are discriminatory and unlawful.
Posted by jocelynne, Monday, 9 July 2007 1:17:24 PM
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I have worked with indigenous Australians who were aware of and enjoyed their human rights and democratic values of justice, fairness, equity, trust, respect, freedom and responsibility. Along with other young Australians, young indigenous people flourished in a democratic education environment where they were empowered and supported in their preparation for life as effective, independent adults. This is the promise of democracy in the wider society thatís not generally fulfilled.

In actions symptomatic of the pious, paternalistic attitudes of the Queensland Government to children and parents, government denied permission to the people in that democratic learning community to make informed decisions and exercise their human rights.

Iíve listened but canít imagine the sufferings of many indigenous people over successive generations. If, however, they are reflected just in the tiniest way by the oppressive actions of this State government to deny human rights, then it is easy to empathise with indigenous children whose human rights are both denied and who also suffer physical abuse.

There are many people who care, are prepared to listen, support and empower individuals and groups with the right, responsibility and ability to make informed decisions and choices. At some point, earlier rather than later, people need to take individual and collective responsibility and not only find their own solutions, but also maintain and manage those solutions. The ability to access fair, equitable justice is part of the solution. Real and restorative justice appears to have been absent from the lives of many indigenous Australians.

Successive Australians governments have ratified Conventions, Treaties and Covenants comprising International Human Rights Law. 16 years ago, the Keating Labor Government ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Ratification was a nice, feel good thing to do. But it was all words and no action. A generation of young people has been born, and almost reached adulthood without their human rights being legislated. The Keating Government failed, like the government since, to follow through and legislate and guarantee those rights, and enable recourse and remedies to be sought in a competent Court when their human rights are denied and abused.
Posted by Derek@Booroobin, Monday, 9 July 2007 2:14:29 PM
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Patmalar,

Sorry mate but there is no such thing as bipartisan when it comes to politics in Australia. Whoops, forgot the one topic they do all agree on. Their perks and income. That's bipartisan.
Conscience at work there alright.

As to the issue of child welfare and saefty? Neither Party cares. Howard has picked this as a wedge issue and it has failed. It will eat him alive as he has no good intent. As you say, if he did he would have said at least a couple of words during his 33 years in Parliament about this issue. Wouldn't ya think? Just a word or two.

The only emergency is the polls and the forthcoming election.

Rudd offers bipartisan agreement but he doesn't mean it. He's just using Beasley's failed strategy of small target. The way it's looking it's going to be a drover's dog election. You and I could lead Labor to vicory Patmalar, if we lowered ourselves enough to join either of these dreadful organisations.

You'd probably be aware the Peter Beattie called an election in QLD based on almost the identical problem, but for all QLD kids the election before last. It too was an emergency. And guess what? It still is as nothing has changed.

And it won't until we have a genuine leader willing to consult and act in time with the indigenous people rather than pounce on a report, make up some recommendations that weren't in it and send in the troops. perhaps he thinks it's Iraq? My only explanation really as what he's doing makes no sense.
Posted by DavoP, Monday, 9 July 2007 4:43:59 PM
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And we will not be discussing this on line after few months..thats the silence that kills, maims and abuses.

Howard's intervention is clearly politically motivated, and he wants us to believe that conservative moral positivists like him never had rock spiders in their family tree..

One by one, our children need us all to care and to act on their behalf...but remember that if we leave it up to politicians...we get a political strategy..
Posted by Rainier, Monday, 9 July 2007 5:41:43 PM
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