It is appalling that in a “lucky” country like ours, one in five children are victims of sexual abuse. I have pushed for something to be done about this problem for years. I wasn’t even allowed to put child sexual assault on the agenda at the 2020 Summit, despite it being the greatest health risk in this country, because politicians did not take the issue seriously.
Until now, our politicians have been blind to our children’s suffering. We cannot solve this problem until it is faced.
If we choose to ignore it, it will only get worse.
The Royal Commission is a significant step in the right direction towards child protection in our country and we can appreciate the courage of the Prime Minister who was willing to face difficult challenges in order to bring about real positive change.
The commission will bring the suffering of our kids out into the open. It certainly won’t make up for the trauma it has caused our children, but it will ensure that we can bring down those who continue to perpetrate and cover up the injustices being committed.
Youth Off The Streets is well-known for speaking out about child abuse in institutions, including the Catholic Church.
I have said in the past that any priests (or anybody at all for that matter) who has had allegations made against them needs to make themselves available to police so the allegations can be investigated.
Child abuse goes beyond the tears and pain experienced in childhood. Victims endure a lifetime of psychological and emotional distress; they often become drug users to kill the pain of abuse, attempt suicide, self-mutilate and have major trust issues.
We need to ensure that accurate punishments are given to those who perpetrate these terrible acts on our children, but also, we as a community, need to actively and confidently make a stand against child abuse by recognising when our young people need support and are calling out for help.
The Native American Indians believe that “the only reason we adults exist is to raise children”, and “it takes a village to raise a child”. Our message has always been that if we are to stem the tide of child abuse, then every adult must take responsibility for every child.
Youth Off The Streets is a non-denominational organisation founded in 1991 and provides more than 25 services and a holistic approach to assisting young people facing disadvantage, abuse or neglect, and homelessness.