C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons, pour nos frères, La haine à nos trousses, et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère. Il y a des pays où les gens aux creux des lits font des rêves, Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue nous on crève.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

State Government Rhetoric

It hasn't received a great deal of media attention, but the State Government of Victoria is proudly extolling the virtues of its new legislation to deal with issues of child abuse and protection. This is an issue about which I might write some more at a later date. For now, I thought I would offer some cursory remarks.

Mark Latham, whilst currently derided in media circles as a 'nutter', made some interesting comments about this issue on ABC's Enough Rope a couple of years ago:

I reached the conclusion that a lot of our problems are not so much
material, they're not economic. Australia's a very prosperous nation. A lot of
the problems are in the relations between people, the community and family
breakdown, the isolation, loneliness, child sexual abuse, mental illnesses. A
lot of these are social problems, where it's not so much what government can do
for the people, it's what the community and what society needs to do for
itself.

Nonetheless, on the issue of child abuse, we know that State Governments around the country (and indeed, in most developed nations) do have a statutory responsibility to address child welfare concerns. As Latham said, a Government cannot necessarily address 'community and family breakdown', at least, not without a major overhaul of the 'community' itself.

As is well known, child abuse is a worsening problem across Australia, with services in crisis. Obviously, in the current political climate, there will be no attempts to provide for a more equitable 'community'. Indeed, there will not even be any attempts to patch up the relevant services, struggling beneath the burden of unmanageable workloads. So whilst child abuse worsens, politicians provide more rhetoric and glossy, but insubstantial legislation, without even the necessary financial backing to make it mean anything. To be continued.