The arrest of a 45-year-old man after a 9 year investigation should be a wakeup call to all of us. This is not isolated; these arrests are made regularly we just don’t always hear about them as the media chooses what makes news. There is a level of complacency where some people seem to think Working With Children Checks (WWCC) creates safety, Child Safe Standards create safety but knowledge and action gives us the power to increase children’s safety. WWCC and Child Safe Standards are tools to use to combat child sexual exploitation, but the evidence is clear that a very small percentage of perpetrators ever face the justice system and of the small percentage that do an even smaller percentage are convicted. So, there are many perpetrators of child exploitation who have clear police checks, have a WWCC, have qualifications as social workers, teachers, child care workers. These perpetrators are active members of our community, and they groom family, friends, communities and systems to allow their perpetration to continue. This one perpetrator has exploited 92 children that we know of, thousands of offences and more than 4000 images. Each of these
children have parents, friends, family, schools and communities they belong to. One perpetrators action has impacted lives of thousands of people in our community forever. They may get justice, but the scars will
last a lifetime. How do we avoid this in the future? Prevention is the key. Our policies and procedures for any organisation working with children should not provide any opportunity for this to occur. We need to empower our community, both adults and children, through training and education to be able to recognise and respond to risk and to ensure perpetrators cannot manipulate members of the community, peers and organizations to gain access to vulnerable children.
Family Violence Prevention
What we are doing to address Family Violence is not working.
Something needs to change … urgently.
People say there has been significant improvement, but I see a disturbing lack of progress. How do we measure progress? Is it up to us as individuals to interpret what progress looks like or do we rely on researchers to demonstrate and agree on progress levels? Research and statistics are vitally important but let’s not hide behind them or let them skew the reality. The reality is frightening. If we think about what has occurred over the last decade. There has been a Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria (2015-2016) and significant changes made to risk assessment, modes of operation, and education around family violence. There was a Royal Commission into Institutional response to child sexual abuse (2013) and the introduction of Child Safe Standards across Australia. We are currently in the second, 10-year plan to end violence against women and children 2022-2032. In addition, we have had organisations established to work solely towards prevention of Family Violence. There have been television commercials, literature published, brochures, print articles and campaigns aimed at preventing violence against women. Despite thousands of hours and financial resources have things progressed at an equal rate? If we consider the evidence the answer is no. The numbers of women and children who have been murdered has remained the same. The numbers of women and children accessing support and services appears to have in fact increased. We know many women and children never report, and we know not all deaths that should be recorded as a result of family violence are. Family Violence is an urgent critical issue requiring an urgent critical response.
1. To treat children as victim survivors in their own right. Their voices matter when we consider prevention, management and responses. We must ensure they have a voice at the table.
2. Child Centred services - They need services targeted to their needs, not services to assist adult victim/survivors or services that hold perpetrators accountable and hope the bi product of this is children will be safer. Children should be acknowledged as their own entity, central to the discussion and given a voice in the movement for change.
3. Prevention - We all need to work together, take responsibility for changing community attitudes to gender based violence and define primary prevention clearly. Our frontline services are stretched to the limit. Our systems struggle to work together. Collaboration is so important.
4. Targeted Training and Education. The recent National Community Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women Survey (NCAS) provided the evidence that the community does not understand the gendered nature of family violence or acknowledge the power of a patriarchal society and the impact of colonisation on our First Nations peoples. We need to provide programs for young children, their parents and community members working with them on a wide scale.
We need action NOW. How many more women and children will be murdered, harmed and traumatised?