Since news broke of the horrific rape of a two year old girl at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, followed by the revelation that Territory Families had received 21 calls about problems at the property where the girl was raped over a two year period, and the fact that the girl was returned to her mother who lives at the same property the media have been rightly been scrutinizing child protection in the Territory more closely.
It has led to more disturbing revelations about child welfare and anti-social behaviour taking place in remote Aboriginal communities. A Senate Estimates hearing heard last week that in neighbouring North Queensland a syphilis outbreak beginning in 2011 had claimed the life of 6 infants with 13 infants being diagnosed with the bacteria which is being passed on by their mothers who are not seeking treatment for it.
The Australian on Monday reported on an internal investigation into child protection in the Territory which documented that sexual transmitted infections rates are more than 30 times higher for Aboriginal girls. These high rates of infections and instances of heavy drinking, risky behaviour and wagging were not investigated by authorities because they considered it ‘normal’ in these communities. There were also cases of sex offenders living with vulnerable children and risk assessments were deemed not robust.
Even after these revelations those on the left and those who have worked in child protection are still clinging onto the policy of family preservation and rage about the fact we might be creating another so called stolen generation. Political leaders are still talking in vague language about improve child welfare in remote Aboriginal communities such as Bill Shorten’s promise to hold First Nations Children summit.
The despair at the current inaction from authorities and our leaders has given rise to the Protect Our Children Movement as way for citizens to maintain the nation’s rage. It was created by Alice Springs Councillor and campaigner against Aboriginal violence and sexual abuse Jacinta Price who was been promoting it on her highly popular Facebook page.
Protect Our Children’s first major stand will be a series of simultaneous public rally on Sunday 18th March with so far rallies confirmed for Melbourne and Alice Springs. To promote the movement a twitter hashtag has been created #protectourchildren and there is a Facebook profile picture filter.
With our leaders, the Aboriginal industry and child protection authorities refusing to change course it will only be through the wider Australian public letting their anger about this issue show for attitudes and policies to rapidly improve. That children black or white deserve to be raised in a safe, loving environment free from violence and abuse should be a simple enough message to sell and which we have a duty to communicate.