Little Children are Sacred, and not to be used as political footballs!
I would appreciate this letter being passed around if possible. A copy is being sent to various political parties and also the United Nations.
From the report: "Little Children are Sacred"
- An increased understanding and accommodation of an Aboriginal cultural perspective is required in order to effectively evaluate service provision in Aboriginal communities.-
I am writing in the hope that someone will stop for just a moment and listen to reason. The Australian Government is using the report titled "Little Children are Sacred" to justify the abuse of human rights in our country.
The Australian Government has too long ignored the plight of our Indigenous peoples and now in an election year is using fear and racial attitudes to further their own ends by sending police and troops into Indigenous communities in the top end of Australia .
I am a white woman currently living in Melbourne after spending the last 15 years in the Northern Territory and most recently Katherine.
I have a deep love for the Indigenous peoples and culture of the NT and I speak as an ordinary Australian who is horrified by the abuse of power and theft of basic human rights and proposed theft of traditional lands from these people.
The report "Little Children are Sacred" is very well researched and I believe is quite accurate in its assessment and recommendations but these recommendations are not being addressed by the Australian Government although the Australian Prime Minister Mr John Howard has insisted his current actions are sparked by the report.
Not once does the report suggest sending in troops without community consultation, seizing control of Aboriginal lands or removing Aboriginal peoples fundamental human rights will be effective in dealing with the issues facing Indigenous communities.
The Australian Government is using this report as an excuse to ignore our constitution and introduce martial law. They are also using this as an excuse to remove the current "Permit system" that exists, giving Indigenous peoples control of their lands. This is nothing more than a land grab and has nothing to do with protecting abused children.
Mr John Howard has been quoted as saying: " What is more important, constitutional niceties or protecting a child?" an emotive statement that is both misleading and indicative of his lack of respect for his elected position and the Australian Constitution and the Aboriginal peoples right to protection under that same constitution.
The report very clearly defines the issues surrounding Child Sexual Abuse in Indigenous Communities and debunks many of the myths perpetuated by the media.
The report very clearly calls for MORE COMMUNITY CONSULTATION WITH ABORIGINAL PEOPLES. – No community consultation has been undertaken by the Australian Government before sending in troops and federal police.
The report very clearly calls for MORE TRAINED FAMILY AND COMMUNITY WORKERS AND FUNDING FOR THE SAME. No commitment has been made by the Australian Government to provide these staff or more funding.
The report very clearly calls for MORE EDUCATION FOR YOUTH IN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES. No commitment has been made by the Australian government to provide the funding and facilitation for such education.
The report very clearly calls for MORE SUPPORT FOR TRADITIONAL VALUES AND TEACHINGS IN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES. No commitment has been made to support Indigenous peoples in teaching these values to their youth.
The report also very clearly points out that "little will be achieved by short-term measures aimed at responding after abuse has occurred (crisis intervention)."
The report states: "The Inquiry found, from interviews, submissions and community consultations, that even if people were aware of sexual abuse and how to report it, they were reluctant to do so."
Sending in the troops will not alleviate this problem.
The report makes it very clear that the kind of invasion action currently being undertaken by the Australian Government will be ineffective and possibly damaging to the Indigenous Communities it purports to be protecting.
The Government has been aware of this abuse for a number of years and has done nothing. This is an election year, so NOW they do something…
The report points out that in many cases where the sexual abuse was obvious, the local people had notified the Police or the local health centre. Sadly in many cases the offender was not charged or received such an insignificant sentence as to discourage further reporting.
The report suggested the reasons for not reporting abuse also
included: "Fear and distrust of the Police, the criminal justice system and other government agencies; shame and embarrassment; language and communication barriers; lack of knowledge about legal rights and services available, and lack of appropriate services for Aboriginal victims."
The report makes the point that: "In developing solutions aimed at child sexual abuse, it is important to define the nature of the problem being dealt with. Each circumstance may require a different solution."
The Inquiry concludes that there needs to be mass education aimed at creating a "cultural shift" so that the human rights of all people are understood and respected. There also needs to be dialogue and support provided to Aboriginal communities so that they can modify practices and find alternative ways to deal with the ramifications of the changes to their traditional structures.
"Concern was expressed that in some communities there is ambivalence about reporting or dealing with the issue of child sexual abuse. This ambivalence results from many interacting factors.
One can be a view that even if a report is made nothing changes or the change is a negative one, such as the child being removed, the perpetrator remaining in the community and perhaps not receiving any legal punishment, while the community is shamed and disrupted. While a community can express public concern about incidents of sexual abuse, the reality is that this often does not translate into action at an individual or family level."
The Australian Government is now making plans to compulsorily submit all children on Indigenous communities to health checks for sexual abuse. Regardless of parental concerns, community concerns or the damage that such invasive investigations might cause the child.
I do realise that making the above points and statements flies in the face of current community support for Mr Howard's actions but I suspect that attitude might stem from ignorance of the actual content of the report he is claiming to base his response on.
Many people will not bother to read 320 pages of information on an issue that does not directly affect them.
The problem of Child Sexual Abuse is real, children suffering is real, something must be done, but to abuse the power given to an elected government, to rob individuals of their rights under constitutional law and to target one group over any other is criminal.
In Australia 1 in 5 females and 1 in 10 males have been sexually abused or exposed to sexual abuse. Is the government going to introduce compulsory medical checks for all Australian children?
To most city dwelling, non aboriginal people, this issue is frightening and the Australian Government is using that fear to justify its actions and declare a war on Indigenous communities.
Historically any government does well when there is a war on and the Australian Government is creating a warlike atmosphere complete with troops in order to bolster their chances of success at the polls.
The co- Author of the report "Little Children are Sacred" has recently spoken up to criticize the Government for not acting on the recommendations in the report.
I don't know what anyone can do to stop this abuse, or to make the government implement the recommendations of the report, but I do know I have to say something. Hoping that someone who can do something will actually listen.
PH: +61 0406 170084
Wise & Blessed Be
Astarte Earthwise xXx