WEST AUSTRALIAN CHILDREN’S COMMISSIONER URGES REVIEW OF LAWS AFFECTING CHILDREN
A report by Western Australia’s Children’s Commissioner into the sexualisation of children has urged a review of laws around outdoor advertising and for the prohibition of R18+ computer games. The report was tabled in parliament by the state’s Joint Standing Committee on the Commissioner for Children and Young People. It urged the government to take note of the Commissioner’s report and 13 proposals. The Commissioner expressed concern over the introduction of the R18+ computer game classification in January 2013 and called for games to be prohibited.
“The main reasons for opposing the new classification category were that it will increase the risk of exposure to, high impact content. Children and young people (particularly those who are vulnerable or at risk) may experience negative impacts from such exposure; and it will be difficult for parents and regulators to control children and young people’s access to R18+ computer games,” the Commissioner said in the report. The Commissioner noted the 2008 federal senate committee report into sexualisation of children and urged that if the industry does not recommend that self-regulation is working in accordance with community standards and expectations that government regulation will become necessary.
The Commissioner recommended the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia review the state’s “laws and regulations that may impact on the content and display of outdoor billboard advertising to determine if there is any scope for Western Australia to regulate the nature and positioning of outdoor advertisements to ensure that children and young people are protected from exposure to sexualised images.” The Commissioner also recommended the WA government look at regulating child beauty pageants and investigating Victoria’s parliamentary inquiry into ‘sexting’ to see whether any action can be taken to minimise the negative effects of the increasing practice amongst children and young people.
The report was commissioned by the Joint Standing Committee on the Commissioner for Children and Young People to the former Commissioner, Michelle Scott, at the end of 2012. The report was given by the Commissioner to the committee in early 2013 but because of the state election the committee has not been able to consider the report to table it to the government. The Attorney General is yet to respond to the Commissioner’s proposals. In 2012, ACL launched a national campaign to make outdoor advertising ‘G-rated’, arguing that sexualisation harms children by promoting body image concerns, eating disorders and gender stereotyping, particularly the degradation of women portrayed on billboard advertisements.
FAITH BASED INSTITUTIONS TOP LIST FOR CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE ACCORDING TO ROYAL COMMISSION
Faith-based institutions have topped the list of organisations where child sexual abuse is reported to have occurred. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has handed down an interim report. Survivors have reported that perpetrators were most commonly members of the clergy (28.8%), followed by teachers and residential care workers. So far, the Commission has found 60.1% of all institutions where abuse occurred were faith-based. The majority (one third) of those faith-based institutions were classed as an “schools, orphanage or children’s home”, followed by churches and places of worship. Of the faith-based institutions where abuse occurred, 68% were Catholic, and 12% Anglican.
It’s a damning report which reveals a history of repeated abuse, multiple perpetrators, barriers to reporting, and adults who have systematically failed to protect children under their care. The commission believes child sexual abuse in institutions is widely under-reported, despite mandatory reporting laws. It’s also found that many institutions respond to abuse claims by holding internal investigations, which has failed to prevent further abuse, or provide satisfactory compensation to victims. Another interesting finding is that the majority of victims were by far male, and around age 10 when abused. On average, they took 22 years to report their abuse, with men taking longer than women.
The Commission is considering a national pre-employment screening agency and a national body overseeing child safety and sexual abuse and an independent body to oversee and regulate the out-of-home care industry. Running a Royal Commission of this scale is not cheap. The five Commissioners and Chair of the Commission are supported by 250 full-time equivalent staff and contractors. The budget for the Inquiry is $281.13 million across four years. The Commission has asked for another two years to finish its work, and an extra $104 million in funding, arguing it has another 57 public hearings and 3,000 private sessions it needs to hold before handing down its final recommendations.
PARENTS WHO LOST THEIR CHILDREN IN UKRAINIAN AIR DISASTER BREAK THEIR SILENCE
By now, most have heard the heartbreaking story of how Australian parents Anthony Maslin and Marite “Rin” Norris lost their three precious children Mo, Evie, and Otis – and Marite’s father Nick – on downed Malaysian flight MH17, after the couple planned to stay in Amsterdam for a few more days while the children’s grandfather accompanied the young ones back to Perth from their European holiday in time for school. Speaking for the first time about their inconceivable grief, Maslin and Norris released this statement:
A message to the soldiers in the Ukraine, the politicians, the media, our friends and family. “Our pain is intense and relentless. We live in a hell beyond Hell. Our babies are not here with us – we need to live with this act of horror, every day and every moment for the rest of our lives. No one deserves what we are going through. Not even the people who shot our whole family out of the sky. No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for our children, for Mo, for Evie, for Otis. No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for Grandad Nick. No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for each other. This is a revelation that gives us some comfort.
We ask everyone to remember this when you are making any decisions that affect us and the other victims of this horror. So far, every moment since we arrived home, we’ve been surrounded by family and friends. We desperately pray that this continues, because this expression of love is what is keeping us alive. We want to continue to know about your lives, all the good and all the bad. We no longer have lives that we want to live by ourselves. So we’d like to take the chance to thank everyone, all our incredible friends, family and communities, and to tell you all that we love you very much. We ask the media to respect the privacy of our family and friends – pain is not a story. Yours truly, Anthony Maslin & Marite Norris.