Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bravehearts and the National Child Protection Alliance are seeking a Royal Commission

Bravehearts and the National Child Protection Alliance are seeking a Royal Commission into the handling of child sexual abuse cases by the different systems that are responsible for the care and protection of children. In the last two weeks we learned that a South Australian Education Department administrator banned a school council from informing parents that their children had been cared for by a (now convicted) paedophile who had raped a young child. The parents were informed by letter two years later and, of course, some parents are now finding that their children were also abused. Seemingly, no counselling was offered for children, parents or staff. The issue has become political because the Premier was then Education Minister and his assistant failed to tell him that the man had been arrested. Worse, school council members were threatened that if they disclosed what had happened they could be taken to court.
This was not the first time that parents were kept in the dark. A few weeks earlier, police banned child care centre management from informing parents that another sex offender had been arrested.
Now we have senior police in Victoria and New South Wales having the courage to expose the fact that the Catholic Church not only impeded inquiries into child sex offences but competent police officers were removed from the investigations. Sadly, international research shows that abuse by clergy is even more damaging than incest because it involves God and spiritual abuse. Victims are often told that they were chosen by God to suffer the pain of abuse and, at the same time, they were made to take the blame by being required to confess the sin to the very priest who had committed it.
In addition, the Family Court continues to punish children who disclose sexual abuse by a parent or parent figure. Mothers (and occasionally fathers) have been (and are still being) accused of training the children to make these disclosures and they, not the accused, are required to undergo psychiatric assessment. The accused are given responsibility for the residence and care of the children and the protective parents may be banned from contact or ordered to have occasional supervised contact and the supervisors write reports on their parenting skills.. but no-one observes and reports on the accused person's  parenting skills when children are in their care. Furthermore after ordering children to live with the parents accused of abusing them, there is no follow-up relating to their well-being. The current Chief Justice and her predecessor confirm that the Family Court lacks the facility to investigate child sex abuse cases and state child protection services are often under the impression that they cannot intervene if a federal court order is in place or a case is in the Family Court.
The reality is that no organisation is protecting young and disabled children from sexual abuse if they lack the sophisticated communication skills needed to withstand rigorous cross examination by barristers in a criminal court.

Would readers who support a Royal Commission please email Hetty Johnson  -