The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have recently delivered a report on how to achieve redress in a systemic and unified way across Australia. The obvious upshot of their reports is to ensure that resolution by restitution may be made available in a way that is equally delivered and universally available across the country – without any worry as to which state you may be in or which regulatory regime may be in issue.
But the report requires leadership from political power sources to deliver on its promise to victims and survivors (including their friends and families) across the nation. In truth, only federal politics has sufficient scope and ambit to achieve it and it should be done as part and parcel of a national response to the issue.
The Royal Commission is the first step in a national level approach. To devolve the benefit of its considered opinion down to a state by state approach is to take one giant leap backward while seeking to make two steps forward. The Royal Commission must be seen as the first brick in a wall that is going to continue needing building and effort to create the sort of protections and resolutions for victims of abuse the country over.
The Federal Government famously eschewed the opportunity to participate in a cooperative and positive way when it declined to endorse the approach of the Royal Commission to the issue of redress when it was being considered in oral submissions. Since then, evidence has been given by survivors of how the Government’s own response and short-shrift written submissions pained them for the apparent callousness with which they were perceived by the government.
While people rush to tweet memes about how having a new PM means it’s time to change your smoke alarm, perhaps there will be some out there who have sufficiently overcome their indignation over the political intrigues of the day to invest some of their moral outrage in encouraging our new Prime Minister to depart from the folly of the past and stand forward in a defiant posture on the issue of redress. Prime Minister Turnball could ensure his re-election if he stood up and said something as simple as this:
“I have spoken before about the need for Australia to be a place of respect for women. But now I speak to the children of Australia. Those that were abused as children and carry the hurt and pain across the generations. We have heard your stories. And to those that care for them, we hear you and admire the witness you continue to bare. And to those children who are out there right now, wondering how to escape a cycle of violence and exploitation – I’m looking to you.
Today I say that this government declares a state of emergency on child abuse. I care about drug use, I care about domestic violence, but I care most for those that cannot care for themselves and this government will stand against any person who sexually abuses a child, and any institution that harbours that person will be required to pay for it. I have appointed a committee of exemplary individuals to implement the findings of the Royal Commission, both now and going forward and I will make it my pledge to this nation, that as Prime Minister I will deliver on redress and safety for children, both in our present, and in our long and tragic past. In this way, I hope to end the long years of suffering and greet all those who have waited for so long with the acknowledgement and the respect that is their due.”
A simple speech, one that I wrote in three minutes. Not too hard to say. Certainly worthy of an Australian Prime Minister. Or for that matter, any minister or elected representative. It must surely stand to get them elected. Who would disagree with this? It would be a matter of pan-lateral support.
Now is the time to move forward on those poor children. To find them and lift them up out of poverty and disenfranchisement. Otherwise the legacy of the Royal Commission will be nothing more than a collection of headlines about wayward cardinals. The people of Australia deserve so much more.
In the meantime, it will fall to CLAN and bold organisations like them to try to move the debate forward and seek a worthy response to the most righteous of issues.