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We are governed by child abuse enablers

It’s hard to believe anything Prime Minister Tony Abbott says. But there is one thing that seems to frighten him more than the threat of ISIS.

The return of the boats.

Abbott says he has no intention of tightening national security despite declaring that the Death Cult is coming after us. Apparently the real, albeit overplayed threat of ISIS warrants no additional measures. However the prospect of desperate men, women and children landing on Australia’s shores is so grim, Abbott has legislated a whole new security regime. And a paramilitary force to ward off people fleeing persecution, war and genocide. By ‘hook or by crook’ Abbott will protect Australia’s sovereign borders from asylum seekers.

Abbott has never hidden his tough asylum seeker policies. It formed part of his election platform. Described as harsh by Liberal frontbencher, Malcolm Turnbull, Abbott has gone to extreme lengths to ensure people smugglers are deterred. The latest abomination to become law simply builds on this.

It is the Border Force Act. And nothing is more sinister than the secrecy provisions contained within. The best friend the child abuser ever had.

It is unlikely the Government intended to protect child abusers.

It is unlikely the Government even gave it a second thought.

But it is there. The mechanism to silence those who report the abuse of asylum seekers in detention.

And silence is the biggest enabler of child abuse.

There is no doubt asylum seeker children are being abused. There have been ample reports, dismissed almost instantly by the Coalition as baseless.

And now, thanks to Abbott’s fears of an invasion by desperate people in leaky boats, it is unlawful for professionals working on Manus Island and Nauru to make public the squalid living conditions, cruel and inhumane treatment, and abuse of men, women and children.

The Border Force Act does not specifically apply to secrecy around asylum seekers. It applies to ‘entrusted persons’ making records of or disclosure of ‘protected information’. There are limited exceptions, which may be difficult to rely on in practicality if abuse is disclosed. The whistle-blower protections do not apply outside Australia.

Each State, Territory and the Commonwealth has legislated mandatory reporting of child abuse for certain people and professions. Foreign aid workers are required to comply with strict child protection policies. Yet mandatory reporting of abuse for children in off-shore detention was voted down by the Government.

The Border Force Act means that professionals who are mandated to report abuse in Australia, may be jailed for reporting the same abuse if it occurs on Nauru or Manus Island.

Not content with enabling child abuse through silence, Abbott, former Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison and current Minister, Peter Dutton’s reactions to specific reports and events conform with typical patterns of behaviour of the abuser.

In the same way child abusers seek to detract from the authenticity of allegations by questioning the reliability and honesty of the claimant, the Government has attempted to deflect criticism of the appalling treatment of children in detention by discrediting those who disclosed it. Abbott and Morrison’s savage attack on Human Rights Commission President, Gillian Triggs ensured the children were not only forgotten, but condemned to indefinite abuse.

Bureaucratic self-protectionism is often present where there is institutionalised abuse. When asylum seekers resorted to harming themselves and engaged in suicide pacts, it was classed as an ‘operational matter’, and the Government refused to comment. Workers who disclosed self-harm were accused of encouraging the behaviour, fabricating allegations, and orchestrating protests. Ten Save the Children workers were sacked, despite no evidence to back up the claims.

When asylum seeker Reza Berati was murdered on Manus Island, Morrison immediately apportioned blame on the murdered man and fellow ‘transferees’. Victim-blaming: a tactic employed by many an abuser. And used lavishly by the Government to ensure those perpetrating abuse are not held accountable.

When challenged on reports of five-month-old baby Asha living in squalor and struggling to feed, the Department denied it and issued a statement saying everything was fine. Typical of the abuser, those in Government hoped that the authority would be believed instead of the abused, attempting to stop the abuse being exposed.

And in much the same way that religious organisations closed ranks to protect paedophiles – but without the inherent loyalty found in such organisations, the Government has resorted to harsh legislation to attempt to deter disclosure of the cruel and inhumane treatment of people in detention, including the abuse of children.

For now, the Government is enabling the abuse of only asylum seeker children.

But hypothetically, what if children, who lose their Australian citizenship because of the actions of their parents, are detained by Federal authorities outside Australia? Will these Australian children, perhaps born of Australian parents, suddenly lose all protection from abuse simply because of where they are detained? Not beyond the realms of possibility if Abbott has his way. And if the Allegiance to Australia Bill is passed, and in the unlikely event found to be constitutional, certain.

No doubt the children of suspected terrorists will receive even less public sympathy than the children of asylum seekers.

But are we really a nation of people who believe it is acceptable to punish children because of the actions of their parents?

Are we really a nation that supports the imprisonment of professionals for complying with their ethical obligations to report abuse?

The Government is already enabling child abusers. Today the children are asylum seekers. Tomorrow it may be the children of dual citizens. And perhaps after that, in a year or two, the children of sole nationals, who have nowhere to be deported to, held indefinitely in detention on Nauru.

Abbott will not listen to the Human Rights Commission. He is doing little to act on the Moss Review, sanctioned by his own Government. He has expressly stated that he will not be lectured to by the United Nations.

At what point will the minority, speaking out against the actions of the Government, become the majority?

The secrecy provisions in the Border Force Act have one aim – to ensure information about asylum seeker welfare does not reach the public. The success of Abbott’s policies depends on the dehumanisation of asylum seekers and the absence of sympathy from the public.

The Australian public voted to stop the boats. But did that vote mandate torture, cruel and inhumane treatment, and child abuse?

Until Australians demand accountability, transparency and a humane solution to the refugee crisis, we will be governed by child abuse enablers.


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  1. Loz

    There has to be a Royal Commission into this governments neglect of the fundamental rights of asylum seekers.

  2. brickbob

    ‘This period in our history will go down as one of the most shameful ever,and i think the Media are not doing their job properley and until they start telling the Australian people what is really going on i am afraid nothing much will change.”””””

  3. donwreford

    What significant detail Turnbull left out on his comment on not playing into ISIS and Abbots fear campaign is the hidden agenda of why Abbots obsession with the so called death cult amplification of fear is Abbots need to divert the Australians public attention from a government having lost its way other than to make the richer richer and the less well of more impoverished, so why is Turnbull making these statements? because he wants to usurp Abbot in a indirect way making clever statements to woo the public into seeing he is the one to govern? why Turnbull needs the prestige, power and money to become the Prime Minster of Australia, it is unfortunate the Australian people so prone to cheap slogans and I suggest you get rulers for what you deserve.

  4. Free-Thinker

    As the ICC case begins to gain more traction as it should, Abbott may well declare that a Royal Commission needs to be conducted not into the influence of the mafia in Australia, but rather, the influence of the United Nations in Australia.

    Andrew Bolt could be nominated to head it., in similar fashion to the way Tim Wilson was plucked from the IPA to become Free Speech Commissioner.

    Far-fetched ? Nothing should surprise us now about what Abbott will do, given his unenviable track record over the past 22 months.

  5. Kyran

    In a related, but parallel, universe, there was a directions hearing this week at the child sex abuse RC. It seems Catholic Church Insurance was subpoenaed in February to produce approximately 2,000 files, which they said would take them at least two months to comply with.

    “The commission has heard CCI has gathered 1,960 files — some containing hundreds of pages — relating to more than 60 perpetrators the Church may have known had a propensity to offend.”

    They were attempting to further delay the submission of the files and reading this article has evoked deja vu. Most of the child abusers being uncovered at the RC have had the support, either actively or by their silence, of the institutions which employed them. Rather than issue a mea culpa, these same institutions are throwing a truck load of lawyers using every legal trick in the book to promote the exact same message this government is trying – ‘we were doing our job and can’t be held responsible for a few bad apples abusing their positions’.

    It seems in ‘modern’ Australia, abuse of the vulnerable is an acceptable cost of ‘doing business’. Thank you for the article, Ms Cripps. Take care

  6. Kaye Lee

    Dutton’s excuse is that people can still report abuse but only through official channels. Well that worked well for Gillian Triggs didn’t it….NOT. Morrison became aware of the allegations of child abuse, including one young boy being raped by a cleaner, shortly after being elected. That child stayed in detention on Nauru. It’s all very well to say don’t tell the media but when the government does nothing and the Nauruan authorities are being investigated for corruption, then we need to be screaming from the rooftops “I’m mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more”.

  7. mars08

    Even if the ALP recognised the moral high-ground… the would not be inclined to try to take it…

    ‘Young-looking’ refugees sent offshore
    31 Jul 2014 – 6:04 PM

    Young-looking children were chosen to be transferred to the harsh Manus Island refugee detention centre to discourage other refugees from coming to Australia, an inquiry has heard.

    And children detained in facilities on Nauru are suffering illnesses and mental conditions caused by unsanitary and inhospitable conditions on the island nation while all refugees are subjected to a broad “intention to dehumanise”.

    Former officials, charity workers and doctors who worked in the immigration system have given at times distressing evidence to an Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) inquiry into the fate of children caught in Australia’s detention centres.

    Gregory Lake, the former director of offshore processing and transfers at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, told the inquiry he was directed by a ministerial staff member to choose the youngest-looking children from among those eligible for the first transfer of detained people from Australia to Manus Island in 2012, when Labor was in government.

    “Because they wanted to send a deterrent message, it was important to send some children, to say that children are not exempt from transfer,” Mr Lake said…

  8. Florence nee Fedup

    We have had inquiries into treat meet of indigenous children, those bought by charities to this country, now into generations abuse in institutional care.

    All that has been revealed is shocking.

    At the very least, we, the public, can claim to be kept in the dark.

    Not so, with the abuse, being committed in our name to those seeking refuge in this country. I suspect both onshore or offshore.

    This generation will have no such excuse.

    The worse thing of all, none of it needs to happen.

    These people can only add to Australia’s wealth and prosperity.

  9. philgorman2014

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

  10. Annie B

    I was pleased to see the ABC give the two finger salute ( on Victorian television news ) to the Abbott Government in reporting the protest in Sydney by doctors, nurses, care-givers and others, against the wicked laws this rabble are introducing – the ‘threat’ of incarceration to anyone who speaks out about what they find that is vile and against the law, in the detention centres. … The ABC also gave background to this story, and the entire article went on for many minutes. … I can only hope there are many more protests across Australia, gaining in momentum, that are reported by the ABC – ( and maybe ? other newscasters ).

    Never mind that doctors ( in particular ) are required by law ( well – that is law that WAS ?? ) … to report any findings of child abuse to health and law authorities here, and unless I am mistaken, the 3 detention centres in question are in fact part or whole of Australian rule, at Christmas Island which is under direct Australian rule; in correspondence with Papua New Guinea at Manus Island; and Australia did administer Nauru as a dependent territory until 1968. How it stands now is anyone’s guess ( maybe someone could enlighten ).

    No matter – if other territories / countries have taken sides with this vile government, and agreed to certain situations and agreements for refugees, it still befalls the Australian Government to call the shots – as they are allegedly paying for the upkeep and well being ( yeah – right ), of these unfortunate souls.


    @ Eva Cripps : Again, an excellent article, hitting nails on heads every which way.

    Great posts from everybody here, too.

  11. Mercurial

    Why wouldn’t the Abbott Government’s treatment of asylum seeker children come under the category of ‘institutional responses to child abuse?’

    Their actions should therefore be within the purview of the current Royal Commission.

  12. Sir ScotchMistery

    If an ALP minister in a future government decided, (unlikely as it is), to remove Abbort’s citizenship as an Australian since he is also a pommie, and then stick him in an offshore facility, let’s say Manus, how would Abbort respond if his daughters were the target of Wilson or Terco “child admirers”, as are currently employed on that stinking island I wonder?

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