Wednesday, August 3, 2016

WAR - Rally - Kids in Detention

I would like to recognise that we are on Kaurna land and that we pay tribute to the past and present owners of this land. We are here today because we have viewed barbaric and inhumane treatment of children.  

I want to talk to you about the horror we experienced this week and the impact this has on those of us who attempt to give a voice to the most disempowered individuals in our community. We do not accept that there is any justifiable reason for abusing any child. We believe that all children should live in a safe, nurturing environment. When the State steps in to care for children when parents are unable to care for them, then that environment should be respectful and create a space where a child can develop a sense of self that is purposeful and valued. These values are shared by those of us who care for the mental and physical well-being of all children. This is every child’s right. 

What we witnessed on Monday night was a flagrant disregard of these rights perpetrated by government officials on children. What makes this more sickening is that the use of spit hoods and restraining chairs was sanctioned by the government. Ministers and government officials ordered and paid for these devices. What did they think they were going to be used for? This is government sanctioned child abuse. I am concerned about the mentality of our elected officials when they endorse abusive behaviours on our children. What sort of society are we creating if we allow our governments to behave in this way? How little respect do they have for human dignity and the well-being of our children in particular?

I call on Mr Weatheral to tell us if the devices used in the Northern Territory are used in this state. I call for an audit of our youth detention centres so that we can feel comfortable that our children are have not suffered the same abuse.  If this abusive behaviour was perpetrated by a parent the child would be removed from their care. The parent is made accountable for their behaviour. There are consequences. What are the consequences to the scores of people responsible for this state sanctioned abuse? 

There will be a Royal Commission – yes another one. But there is no need to wait for its findings. Those who conducted the abuse should be charged and hopefully jailed. Those who have colluded with this process of systematic abuse should be sacked. Those who witnessed it but chose to do nothing are just as guilty as those who committed the abuse, they also should also be sacked. To change this culture of abuse we as a community have to say enough is enough. We are no longer going to tolerate incompetence and the wilful neglect of our children.  As someone who works with parents whose children have been removed I wonder about the degree to which those who represent the government are acting in many cases in the best interest of the child.

 There will be some who will justify the behaviour of the guards and the restraints used. There will be some who will say they were acting in the best interest of the child. In my professional career I have heard those statements over and over again, a mantra which justifies the decision making process which isn’t always in the child’s best interest. There are those who blame the children, see them as bad kids, deserving of whatever punishment is dished out to them. 

I say to those who hold these distorted views that under no circumstance no human should be tortured or abused in this way and least of all children. 

Tony Tonkin
Founder and Leader
Child Protection Party

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