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Let's fight these laws together

by Muriel Bamblett

ONE of the most telling facts about the rushed Northern Territory National Emergency Response Bill becomes clear when you look for how many times the word "children" or "child" appears. You would think that any legislation that is supposedly part of an emergency response to the issues raised by the Little Children Are Sacred report on child abuse in indigenous communities would have children mentioned throughout its scores of pages. Our legislators had these pages in front of them for only a day or so before they were passed by the House of Representatives with the support of both main parties.

There is no mention of children in the main bill, which supposedly addresses the emergency of child abuse. That is why the majority of indigenous leaders, academics and practitioners in social work and child protection are continuing to say that this bill has nothing to do with children. That is why the actual authors and advisers who delivered the report have condemned the Government for failing to pay due regard to their considered recommendations.

But it has everything to do with a government seeking re-election by blowing the dog whistle of racism in the guise of caring for indigenous children. It has everything to do with a Labor Party too fearful of another Tampa to act with principle and courage. It has everything to do with the assessment of the main parties that the Australian public are too racist and too uncaring of indigenous children to actually support governments doing something principled and evidence-based to tackle both the causes and the symptoms of disadvantage that lead to child abuse.

You should feel insulted. Insulted that you are seen as racist and uncaring. Insulted by the low regard in which your political leaders hold you. Insulted that the assessment of the politicians in the major parties is that you are too lazy to see past policy forming from media releases and political bluster.

But this is the way it seems always to have been for indigenous people.

The federal ALP government in 1995 commissioned the Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care to prepare a National Plan for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect in Aboriginal Communities. The Keating Government sat on the plan for months, only for the Howard Government to shelve it soon after its 1996 election victory.

ONE of the most telling facts about the rushed Northern Territory National Emergency Response Bill becomes clear when you look for how many times the word "children" or "child" appears. You would think that any legislation that is supposedly part of an emergency response to the issues raised by the Little Children Are Sacred report on child abuse in indigenous communities would have children mentioned throughout its scores of pages. Our legislators had these pages in front of them for only a day or so before they were passed by the House of Representatives with the support of both main parties.

Guess how many times the words "children" or "child" appear in the bill? One hundred? Twenty? Five? Wrong — the answer is zero.

There is no mention of children in the main bill, which supposedly addresses the emergency of child abuse. That is why the majority of indigenous leaders, academics and practitioners in social work and child protection are continuing to say that this bill has nothing to do with children. That is why the actual authors and advisers who delivered the report have condemned the Government for failing to pay due regard to their considered recommendations.

But it has everything to do with a government seeking re-election by blowing the dog whistle of racism in the guise of caring for indigenous children. It has everything to do with a Labor Party too fearful of another Tampa to act with principle and courage. It has everything to do with the assessment of the main parties that the Australian public are too racist and too uncaring of indigenous children to actually support governments doing something principled and evidence-based to tackle both the causes and the symptoms of disadvantage that lead to child abuse.

You should feel insulted. Insulted that you are seen as racist and uncaring. Insulted by the low regard in which your political leaders hold you. Insulted that the assessment of the politicians in the major parties is that you are too lazy to see past policy forming from media releases and political bluster.

But this is the way it seems always to have been for indigenous people.

The federal ALP government in 1995 commissioned the Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care to prepare a National Plan for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect in Aboriginal Communities. The Keating Government sat on the plan for months, only for the Howard Government to shelve it soon after its 1996 election victory.

At the 2003 Prime Minister's Indigenous Family Violence and Child Abuse Summit, the secretariat again developed comprehensive proposals for a national indigenous children's wellbeing and development taskforce that was to include representation from all governments, the secretariat and other indigenous organisations, report directly to the Council of Australian Governments and develop measures to address child abuse and the lack of services in prevention, early childhood support, health and education. And now we can add Little Children Are Sacred to the ignored reports.

This legislation does nothing for children, nothing for indigenous disadvantage, nothing to actually stop child abuse. So what does it do? It takes control away from indigenous communities. It allows government bureaucrats to force themselves into our boardrooms. It takes over our land. It takes away our ability to have a say on who can come onto our freehold title land. It places bureaucrats in charge of our lives. And it exempts these and other actions from the Racial Discrimination Act, which means it acknowledges that some of its measures may be racially discriminatory.

This legislation is an attack on our people. How would you feel if you had to allow a bureaucrat from Canberra into your community meetings, netball committee meetings and business meetings? How would you feel if there was a law which made it OK for you to be discriminated against, just because of your race?

Are the major parties right? Or will you stand with us and fight this abuse of our people and let your local MPs and senators know what you really think?

Muriel Bamblett is chairwoman of the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care. Article sourced via Jennifer Martiniello .

1 Com:

John Tracey | August 15, 2007

This Picket is called by a Queensland Aboriginal family.

These racist attitudes applied to welfare are in Queensland too!

JT


Picket to demand justice for people with intellectual disabilities and their families. (Brisbane)

Join the campaign to reform the Queensland Office of the Adult Guardian.

Please pass this message to friends and networks in Brisbane.

There will be a picket next Wednesday, the 29 August 2007 at 9.00 am. outside the Brisbane Magistrate’s Court, 240 Roma St. Brisbane to demand reform of the Queensland Office of the Adult Guardian.

The picket will be opened by a traditional Aboriginal dance from Baganan Kurityityin Theresa Creed.

There will be an open forum during the picket chaired by Drew Hutton. All are welcome to speak.


An invitation from Theresa Creed and John Tracey

Please join us to demand reform of Queensland’s guardianship laws.

We do not want to deceive anyone. This picket is about a particular problem that is occurring in our family. We would love to tell you the details but have been threatened with imprisonment if we do.

For seven years we have struggled with the Adult Guardian. We have gone up and down the right channels over and over again – without justice for a member of our family.

So we have called this picket to publically demand one thing, a demand that is relevant to thousands of other Queensland families – Reform the Office of the Adult Guardian!.

We demand that the Office of the Adult Guardian’s dual functions of investigator and legal Guardian for people with intellectual disabilities be split into two separates agencies. This would require the Office of the Adult Guardian, as a guardian, to be as accountable to scrutiny as any other legal guardian. At present the Office of the Adult Guardian investigates itself, or more accurately, does not investigate itself - including responding to complaints from their clients, client’s families or anyone else.

At present Queensland’s Guardianship and Administration Act allows for no accountability or scrutiny from anyone. Even the Attorney General, the elected parliamentarian and member of the state executive whose department the Adult Guardian is a part of , is legislatively unable to demand information and reports from the Adult Guardian or initiate any official investigation of any sort.

On top of this lack of accountability, Section 129 of the Guardianship and administration Act extinguishes any obligation at all to protect the rights of the adult or the integrity of the decisions made or to test information provided to the tribunal by the Adult Guardian.

Section 129 allows the Guardianship and Administration Tribunal (whose only investigative wing is the Office of the Adult Guardian) to conduct hearings and make orders that suspend all principles and protocols contained in its own act for up to six months.

Section 129 is a wild card allowing the tribunal to make decisions totally outside of legal frameworks. This section removes even the requirement for the person with a disability to be present or represented at a hearing, even if the Tribunal Orders to remove a person’s right to make decisions about where they live and who they associate with. This situation has occurred, it is not a hypothetical fear.

Totalitarian laws and agencies such as Queensland’s guardianship regime should have no place in the lives of any Australian citizen.

These white laws have no place in Aboriginal family business

These laws, and the incompetence that flows from them are directly responsible for many people with intellectual disabilities being left to fall though the cracks in the system – often ending up in gaol.

In our family’s case as with other Aboriginal families, they are also a significant contributing factor to the over-representation of Aboriginal people in gaols.

For more information

Campaign to Reform the Adult Guardian (CRAG)
kurityityin(at)yahoo(dot)com
ph. Bris (07) 32552146


Please contact the Queensland Attorney General to support reform to Queensland Guardianship Laws Attorney@ministerial.qld.gov.au

http://paradigmoz.wordpress.com/2007/08/15/picket-to-demand-justice-for-people-with-intellectual-disabilities-and-their-families-brisbane/

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