The truth matters. It matters most when its ruthless pursuit is essential to ensuring justice for people whose rights have been cruelly violated, and to ensuring that any failings in law, policy and practice which may have permitted, facilitated or even turned a blind eye to such abuses, are fully identified and dealt with.
It is of course the responsibility of the State to protect and vindicate the rights of its people. The State is ultimately responsible for ensuring that its citizens - especially those who are most vulnerable, such as children - are properly protected and provided for. Where a pattern of abuse is identified, it is the job of the State to investigate it, bring any perpetrators to justice and ensure effective remedies for victims of abuse.
Australia is about to undertake a remarkable investigation. The newly established Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse faces a mammoth task.
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HERE’S what should have happened on the Sydney bus this morning when ABC journalist Jeremy Fernandez was subject to a torrent of racist and ugly abuse from a fellow passenger.
Someone should have stood up. They should have made a beeline for the gutter mouth and stood between them.
“Hey,” they should have said, “Cut that crap out,” before turning to Fernandez and his two year old daughter and checking if they were alright.
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It is National Child Protection Week, 2- 8 September and again, we know that more than 30,000 Australian children have been abused and neglected in the past year. This figure has never substantially improved since we first began to consider the problem and we, as a community, continue to respond as if we are powerless in this distressing situation.
If we were told that in the last year 30,000 children had suffered an infection, which had caused some deaths and left many children with a lifelong burden, there would be public outrage, demanding a solution.
Abuse and neglect is a social infection, endemic in our community, and with equally devastating results, yet it seems to pass us by.
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There are a couple of flippant faux-diagnostic accusations that get thrown about with abandon: “Clearly got Asperger’s” and “That’s child abuse”.
The first gets directed at anyone with a vague difficulty coping in social situations; the second to parents escorting children with issues ranging from mullet hairstyles to a clear case of childhood obesity.
Well, US doctors just upped the ante and suggested that in certain circumstances obese children should be removed from their parents’ calorie-laden care and into a foster family. Dr David Ludwig, from the Children’s Hospital in Boston, and his colleague Lindsey Murtagh from the Harvard School of Public Health, wrote a provocative letter to the American Medical Association journal.
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