Protecting the Innocent

By Penny Mulvey

“Nobody wants you, nobody cares about you. You’re just a nobody,” Gordon Hill, known for many years only as ‘29’, told the Royal Commission into institutional responses to Child Sex Abuse during the hearing in Ballarat last month.

“People were called by boat ID. People had no value. No guards called me by name. They knew our name, but only called by boat ID,” (a 16 year old boy is quoted in The Forgotten Children report, Australian Human Rights Commission, 2014)

“But the pain, I just couldn’t keep bringing it up over and over again. Because it’s unbearable. If you’ve never been in that situation then you don’t know. You would never know the pain. And one day I hope that I will feel happiness. I will be happy. But at the moment I’m just plodding along as I am.” Barbara Kickett speaking as part of the Stolen Generations testimonies.

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Luke 18:16

Our governments, our institutions – churches, schools, clubs, synagogues, and behind the closed doors of family homes – have much to answer for the ways we have treated, and continue to treat, the most vulnerable and the most trusting members of our communities – our children.

It is hard to fathom the horrors inflicted on children by the Catholic Church in the Ballarat region for so many years. And yet, tragically, these stories are not isolated, historic or unique. The psychological impacts of abuse and detention are life-long and inter-generational, as is reported by members of the Stolen Generation.

“It’s filtered right down through the system, like gone from first generation to the second, to the third and to the fourth and to the fifth. We’re looking at now, I think six generations. And it’s affecting the children today. That’s why a lot of the kids are getting in trouble too. Because the life that their parents have had, and their grandparents, the not knowing whether they would see their children again. I think that plays a big part on the way that, their usage of the alcohol, not so much drugs back then, but the use of alcohol mostly. But today society it’s more alcohol and drugs,” 53 year old Melbourne Hart, speaking as part of the Stolen Generation Testimonies.

How many royal commissions, enquiries, court cases, will it take before this nation recognises our full responsibilities towards the care and wellbeing of all children, no matter their colour, ethnicity, socio economic or legal status.

“…the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Image courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd.

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