Letters to the Editor: Monday September 3, 2018

Giving thanks: Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester visited troops in Iraq and Afghanistan last month. Photo: Supplied
Giving thanks: Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester visited troops in Iraq and Afghanistan last month. Photo: Supplied

Giving thanks to our ADF

There are more than 80,000 men and women of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) who put on our nation’s uniform and are prepared to place themselves in harm’s way to help others who can’t necessarily help themselves. 

On a recent visit to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, I had the opportunity to talk to hundreds of ADF personnel involved in training and advising local security forces. 

I met some of Australia’s finest young men and women, pulled together from every corner of the country and united with a great sense of patriotism and purpose to their lives. On every occasion, I passed on one message from the Australian people: ‘thank you for your service’.

It’s a simple phrase but it can mean a lot when you are spending months away from your loved ones; working in 50 degree heat; concerned for your personal safety; and removed from the simple pleasures of Australian life. 

As Australians, we don’t tend to go for the bravado of our American friends and the intensely patriotic recognition of their troops. 

Caring for our veterans and their families is the best way to honour the service and sacrifice of all those men and women who have served our nation in uniform over the past century. It is also the best way to ensure that their legacy endures and is never forgotten.

But perhaps we need to put aside some of our normally reserved Australian nature and publicly recognise our Navy, Army and Airforce personnel and their families beyond ANZAC Day. 

A simple message of ‘thank you for your service’ each time you meet someone in a military uniform is a good start.

Darren Chester MP, 

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Child Protection Week

National Child Protection Week runs in Australia from 2 September to 8 September and encourages us to promote safety for children in our communities. The sad reality I have come to realise is that many young people who are abused believe that this behaviour is normal. Adults in our community are letting our young people down.

Reports of child abuse are overwhelming and give witness to the lack of accountability for adults who abuse young people. Courts are far too lenient on people who abuse our children; communities are looking the other way, ignoring the abuse of children because this is the easiest option. People don’t want to get involved in notifying assaults on our young people because of the fear of the consequences from the perpetrators. We have lost the ability for adults to serve as collective parents for all the young people in our neighbourhood.

Nothing is more important than protecting our vulnerable children from abuse and neglect. 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, as a society, must ensure that we provide our children with a safe and supportive environment, so that they have the opportunity to reach their full potential. 

​At Youth Off The Streets we provide an abundance of services to young people from all walks of life across three Australian states. Above all else in our work, we hold the protection of young people paramount in our activities and programs.

I support National Child Protection week and the movement to protect some of Australia’s most vulnerable young people, but I would like to see this action become an everyday part of Australian lives.

Father Chris Riley, 

Founder at Youth Off The Streets