Posted by Merv McCormack
on 6 September 2021
It seems incongruous that Australia needs a week to be reminded that Every child, in every community, needs a fair go.
While the majority of Australian children are growing up in healthy and safe environments, for many that is not the case.
Some statistics make for sobering reading. On Census night 2016, almost 20,000 children aged 0- 14 were homeless. According to the 2018 ABS Recorded Crime data, more than 40% of all sexual assaults recorded against children aged 0- 14 were perpetrated by a family member. Assault- related hospitalisations involving children aged 0- 14 in 2016- 17 were perpetrated by a parent or another family member in 58% of cases. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1 in 35 children in 2014- 15 were clients of Child Protection Services and 73% of children were return clients. Indigenous Australian children were seven times more likely to be receiving Child Protection Services.
Medical experts, social workers, psychologists, educationists, police and judicial officers see the worst excesses. But much of the mess remains hidden: family and domestic violence; maltreatment; bullying; and emotional or psychological abuse.
Are there any more fundamental truisms that the most vulnerable in our society deserve the most care. And the most vulnerable amongst us are often the youngest, the ones least able to protect themselves against mistreatment, abandonment and violence.
So, yes, we do need reminding.
For Lasallians entrusted with the care and education of children, recalling St John Baptist De La Salle’s words on care for children is apt:
“God entrusts to you his care of the young”.
“Young people need the light of watchful guides to lead them”.
“Have much care and affection for the young people entrusted to you”.
Solving societal ills may be well beyond our individual scope. Nevertheless, the regular opportunities we have, in some cases daily, to make genuine differences in the lives of the children entrusted to our care, is a profound privilege. One that we need honour as fervently as possible.
Every child, in every community, needs a fair go.