After three National Apologies to children and their families – Kevin Rudd’s for the stolen generation, Julia Gillard’s for forced adoptions, and Scott Morrison’s for institutional child sex abuse – one would hope that Australia had recognised our obligation to protect and nurture children, was sorry for the ignorance and inadequate care of the past, and was determined to do better in the future.
Sadly, that does not seem to be the case.
Indigenous children remain in detention at record levels.
Refugee children remain stuck in offshore detention.
LGBTQI children remain a football with religious bodies and politicians arguing the right of people to discriminate against them.
Domestic violence remains a scourge that has taken the lives of 18 children so far this year.
Any idea of education funding based on actual need has disappeared.
Tertiary education, instead of being viewed as a public investment in the country, now burdens our young people with a huge debt before they even begin work.
The chance of owning a home has been taken away from most young people by prioritising investors and the protection of their portfolio earnings over the provision of affordable housing.
A couple of weeks ago, ACOSS released a report showing that more than one in six children in Australia are living in poverty. The group of people experiencing poverty the most are, unsurprisingly, those relying on Government allowance payments such as Youth Allowance and Newstart. But our government refuses to increase it despite calls from basically everyone (with the possible exception of Murdoch media consumers) about the necessity to do so and the economic and social benefits that would follow.
The refusal of our government to address climate change is burdening our children with the consequences of our short-sighted greed and an ever-growing cost to clean up our mess and save what they can of a world we seem determined to destroy.
What sort of example are we setting for our children about caring for others who may be less fortunate when we slash foreign aid but hugely ratchet up spending on weapons of war?
We tell our children they must not be bullies but the example set by our politicians is that of rewarding bullies. Yelling abuse is called “cut through”, intimidation is excused as a normal part of a “robust” work environment not designed for “snowflakes”. We ‘adults’ then emulate this vitriolic war of words on social media and then wonder why our kids copy us, on occasion with the most tragic of consequences.
Ian Warden has written a thought-provoking article in the SMH titled Dreaming of a heartfelt apology.
If he is expecting the publicly-expressed remorse to translate into us being better at caring for kids, I’d have to tell him he’s still dreamin’.