Words fail to describe how I felt when I viewed the ABC 4 Corners program on Monday night. It prompted a live feed on Facebook. The YouTube video of my response can be found here.
It has become apparent that the Minister responsible was made aware of the ABC's presentation before it was released, but chose not to view it and therefore didn't comment on it. In 2014 there was an inquiry into Youth Detention in the NT and this report was kept from the public. One can assume that issues such as those revealed on Monday night were mentioned in this report. What this means to me is that the institutionalised abuse of children is of no concern to Governments until it is exposed by journalists.
The Child Protection Party and I have heard many stories concerning the abuse of children while in care. Parents and children are not heard, they are labelled irrelevant, because those in power are those who determine what outcomes are "best" for the child. The treatment of those boys in the ABC report was seen as appropriate given that they were troublesome kids. The guards were able to behave as they pleased because they were unchecked. There was no standard of care or even a basic sense of human decency exhibited in the treatment of these children. It is abhorrent to me that what we viewed is just the beginning of a process of denial and mistreatment that runs throughout the "care" system.
What we need to confront is that children, in our society, are a commodity, abused and mistreated because they don't have a voice. While we become incensed about pedophilia and the damage inflicted on children we should be equally outraged about a system which continues to damage children and is endorsed by those who are assigned to care for our children. We not only have to confront this problem but we have to find solutions to a culture which flagrantly denies the most vulnerable people in our community their basic human rights.
As I write this post I can feel the anger and rage inflaming inside me. This is because I have been claiming for years that we are doing NOTHING about the culture which allows our children to be continually abused. I am frustrated because my calls and those of others have not been heard. We have all been seen as part of the "Lunatic Fringe", been demonised and dismissed. We are now approaching a time when we will have to be heard because the evidence is mounting that the "State" is not only the worst parent it also continues to traumatise and damage children.
I can not understand why we would take children away from their parents, who in many cases could address the "risk factors" which caused their children to be removed, and then create further trauma in the children's lives which will impact them for the rest of their lives. Why do we allow people to work with children who are deplete of any compassion or empathy demonstrated by behaviour which rapes a child of their sense of self and belonging? We should not be surprised when these children turn to crime and become disconnected from society. They become this way because of the treatment of those who are suppose to "care" for them. These people don't "care" for these children at all. They hold children in such contempt that they denigrate and humiliate them. These people should never work with children so we have to wonder who employs them and supervises them. Why do we allow these foxes in the hen coop?
I would like to know who agreed to the use of the restraining chair? Surely there was a discussion with management about this chair and under what circumstances it would be used. The fact that this discussion must have taken place because the chair didn't materialise out of thin air, doesn't this mean that no one recognised the problem. The thought that a chair of this nature was going to be used to abuse children surely should have rung a few bells for those who administer this system. Those people are just as much a part of this problem as those who tied down the child or sprayed the children. We need to be asking where the Minister was in this process? Anyone who condones any of these methods in complicat and needs to be removed from their position. Anyone who physically abused these children should be charged with assault and imprisoned into the very system they administer.
What we witnessed on Monday night is the extreme end of the problem but it is a systemic culture which permeates down to the moment a child is removed and placed into "care".
My call is to all who work in this system to consider - when you remove a child from their parents how are you personally going to provide the best outcome for this child? What are you going to do that will ensure that this child will be returned to the people who love this child? If you are unable to fulfill this obligation to the child then get out. If you choose to stay and say nothing about the dysfunctionality of the system then you are as responsible for any abuse perpetrated against these children as the abuser. If you stay, then make a stand and demand change.