Discussion Paper Four (Or: Speak Up Please)

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The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has issued its fourth discussion paper. It concerns procedures to minimize abuse in the out-of-home care sector. This mostly covers children who previously would have been placed in the old Children’s Homes. The paper calls for submissions on how to achieve this, with a deadline of November 8th 2013

The bulk of submissions are likely to come from the care-provider organisations, which are mostly church-based. It would also be expected that the support organisations which have benefited from very generous federal government grants will also prepare submissions. It is much less likely that people who have gone through the system will put in a submission, because of lack of resources, residual trauma or inability to adequately express their opinions.

It would be nice if the commission were to give the latter category of people real assistance in this regard.

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Commission chief executive Janette Dines said areas of interest included foster care, relative or kinship care, family group homes, residential care and independent living. Dines is quoted as saying that “The royal commission is interested in strategies that will keep children in care safe from sexual abuse and in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of current models of oversight of out-of-home care practices.”

Many would have hoped that the discussion paper included historical matters arising from the former Children’s Homes systems. It is known that a great proportion of victim complaints to the Royal Commission fall into this category, but perhaps they will be raised in due course later during the enquiry.

Dines also says that the discussion paper responses will form the basis of a community forum type of hearing sometime in the next year. This will be a necessary adjunct to the public hearings given that, in a recent talk to a Bravehearts fund-raiser (see previous posting), Chairman Peter McClellan said that less than half of those who enquire will be afforded a private hearing by commissioners. The remainder cannot be excluded.

The enquiry is due to commence public hearings at its offices in the Governor Macquarie Tower in Sydney next Monday. It will cover the Steve Larkins case (see previous posting). Larkins was imprisoned for abuses during his time as head of the Hunter Aboriginal Children’s Services centre. It has been claimed that Scouts Australia and the NSW State Department of Community Services did not adequately respond to warnings about Larkins.

It may strike some observers as a bit odd that, given that most abuses occurred under religious organisations, the first attention is being given to a secular organisation and a State government department.

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Read more here:

TOMORROW: Transparency issues

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)

 

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