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.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Disgrace

The title here doesn't refer to the excellent book (and film) of the same name, but rather, some stupidity from yesterday's Herald Sun:

THE mother of Daniel Valerio has broken 16 years of silence to condemn the State Government for failing to stop systemic child abuse.

Cheryle Butcher was 26 when her youngest son Daniel, 2, was fatally bashed by her de facto husband, Paul Aiton, in one of the most notorious child abuse cases in Australian history.

The case led to the introduction in Victoria of laws requiring police and health and teaching professionals to report suspected child abuse...


Ms Butcher, who said she had had counselling for years, said she blamed herself for Daniel's death.

But she believes she was also failed by an incompetent and poorly resourced child protection authority - a system she said was still failing children today.

"Yes, it was happening in my own house. I am the one who has to live with that knowledge for the rest of my life," she said.

"Unless you are me in that situation, I can't explain it. I had no help, no support...

"Nothing is being done, and kids are still dying. Don't let Daniel die in vain. Get some support systems, make counselling available, build refuges for women. As long as the Government keeps screwing up, it will keep happening."

So let's be clear here. If you're a woman with cow dung for brains, and partnered to a psychopath who is systematically abusing your child, it's the governments responsibility to magically become aware of this and fix everything. Right.

I don't like beating people with the stick of 'personal responsibility' - the concept is bunkum to somebody nurtured on Nietzsche and psychoanalysis - but this mother was complicit in the murder of her son. Governments cannot raise children - only parents, families, and communities can. To expect otherwise is itself a disgrace.

The resources Ms Butcher mentions - counselling, refuges - certainly exist. Any woman in Victoria can be provided with emergency accommodation if it helps her and her kids flee a violent situation. Yes, the resources are limited, and not necessarily brilliant. Yes, there are also some basic things expected of the woman (i.e. don't get shitfaced and assault staff, don't bring your psychopathic ex-partner into the refuge, etc). But the resources are there.

Finally, by way of clarification, I should be clear that I think the Victorian State Government, under both Bracks and Brumby, absolutely pathetic on issues of child protection, health, mental health, disability services, housing, and a range of other things. A large number of politicians and senior public servants ought to be sacked, if not shot, for their criminal neglect of Victoria's most vulnerable. Systems need to be rebuilt without the cronyism and backside-covering that infect Victoria's public service to its core. It does not follow from this, however, that the government can or should miraculously solve everything when you are turning a blind eye to the abuse of children.