CLA backs urgency over children, calls for plan

ivil Liberties Australia has backed the government’s urgent intervention into Aboriginal issues in the Northern Territory as a legitimate, short-term action. However, longer term planning and activity towards permanent solutions should begin immediately.

Media release


Date: 29 June 2007

CLA backs urgency, but cautions need for immediate longer-term plan

Fresh way proposed to capture the goodwill – and good ideas – of a nation

Civil Liberties Australia (CLA) has endorsed the Government’s urgent campaign to immediately stop sexual abuse of children – but warned that simultaneous implementation of a longer-term plan for permanent solutions was vital.

A four-step process – spanning a number of decades – is a critical part of a solution if it is to be genuine, but so far the government had committed to the first-step only.

“We give the Government the benefit of some considerable doubt, based on its track record, because abuse of children must stop,” CLA spokesperson Clare Carnell said.

“Liberties and rights groups, such as the CLA, have a duty to suspend our suspicions, for the good of Australian children, and to offer help where we can.

“Education, awareness-raising and behavioural change is a non-negotiable tenet of a genuine, long-term solution which reaches beyond a political ‘quick-fix’.”

CLA believes the government should outline a four-step plan;

  • Stop, and police, child sexual abuse – immediately;
  • Ensure child welfare payments are in fact spent on children – up to 3 months;
  • Treat root causes of problems (correcting ‘bad’ behaviour, raising awareness of ‘good behaviour’, addressing school attendance, job opportunities, medical staff and resources…) – up to 3 years; and
  • Monitor outcomes and adjust policy appropriately – 3 decades and beyond.

“The sooner the ‘second-step’ programs begin, the better,” Ms Carnell said. “Police and military intervention is a short-term solution, realistically only for a matter of weeks or months.

“You cannot solve societal and cultural problems with jackboots, unless you are prepared to turn Australian into a police state permanently,” she said.

“It’s like slapping a bandage on an open sore: you might stop the discharge, but unless you treat the cause of the infection, the patient will get worse.

“Skills training, job creation and wide-ranging policies to lift the self-esteem of Aboriginal people are as important longer-term as is the immediate focus on police and military in the short term,” Ms Carnell said.

She said CLA was proposing the Government take the issue to the wider population, developing an ‘ideas’ website, and calling for contributions from the nation. She outlined how a website could capture positive new initiatives to turn around the crisis amongst some of Australia’s Indigenous people. (See below – ‘Ideas’ Website.)

“People want to help. We’ve got to find a way to get the best Australian minds contributing to solutions. A website is the perfect place for that.”

This urgent campaign should only be the start of a return to customary and traditional law and order in Australia.

“Six months from now, from whomever is in power, we expect a similar level of commitment and effort on a national scale to continue this campaign while seeking to restore both the rule of law and Australia’s customary civil rights and freedoms – throughout the Indigenous community and across all of Australia,” Ms Carnell said.

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