2017 – A CRUCIAL MOMENT IN TIME FOR AUSTRALIA’S CHILDREN
This current focus on how profoundly society and institutions have failed children in Australia demands that we ask hard questions about how we value children today, the Convenor of the Valuing Children Initiative (VCI), Linda Savage said.
What we value is reflected in a society’s culture and prevailing attitudes, and plays a pivotal role in ensuring children’s safety and wellbeing.
The vital role that deeply embedded societal attitudes can play was acknowledged by Archbishop Coleridge in evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse who said:
‘We have changed procedures, we have changed protocols, but if we don’t really change the culture at that deeper level, the problem could re-emerge in the future.’
In an article published by the Law Society of West Australia this month, the VCI argues that a change in how we value children is essential to children’s safety and wellbeing, and asks “How many Royal Commissions does it take to keep children safe?”
‘While the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is indispensable to the acceptance and admission of past failures to protect children, it brings with it the risk of unintentionally implying that these concerns are now largely taken care of. Or that better policy and legislation will be enough to bring about the change needed to protect children.’
This mental shortcut would be a grave mistake, Ms Savage said.
Children are still subject to shocking rates of sexual abuse and harm in Australia and their ultimate safety requires a change in attitudes to children and that begins with how we value them.
Rates of child abuse and neglect, poverty and homelessness are further evidence that children are simply not valued enough.
The VCI has called on state and federal governments to:
1) Fund campaigns to promote understanding that a society’s attitudes to its children and how we value them impacts fundamentally on their safety and wellbeing.
2) Undertake research to better understand attitudes to children in Australia today,
3) Create a dedicated Ministerial portfolio for Children and Future Generations, and a National Plan for Children.
4) Instigate a rigorous and transparent process to ensure all policy, legislative and decision making processes actively consider the impact on children and future generation
Linda Savage Convenor 0409109899 firstname.lastname@example.org
Emma King Deputy Convenor 0450101117 email@example.com
The Valuing Children Initiative is an ambitious project that seeks to inspire Australians to value all children, understand that a child’s wellbeing is the responsibility of the entire community, and ensure children are at the forefront of our considerations. It was established by Centrecare (Inc.) and Parkerville Child and Youth Care (Inc.) in January 2016. Further information is available at www.valuingchildreninitiative.com.au