posted on October 19, 2017 09:40
The true measure of any society is how it treats its most vulnerable members” Mahatma Ghandi
As human beings we can all be vulnerable; vulnerability is inherent in our shared humanity. Yet as human beings we often don’t honour our most vulnerable, or indeed, acknowledge their value. Basic human rights recognise the inherent value of every human being, child or adult. They uphold the principles of mutual respect and fair treatment, and the additional right of children for special protection due to their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse. Our young - our most vulnerable members - need and deserve to be safe, loved, nurtured and protected… as indeed, we all do.
Sadly many children not only don’t receive the care and protection they need; many are abused, brutalised and sexually violated by the very people charged with their care. Their vulnerability is exploited, their trust betrayed and they are devalued and disrespected. In seeking succour many are disbelieved, punished and blamed for their own victimhood.
As victims grow older, many remain highly vulnerable to further victimisation, a too common occurrence and one which often reaps further harm, and repeatedly so. As it is, many victims spend years trying to find the voice which enables them to disclose, and then often struggle to have that voice heard and their feelings validated. To have the harm done to them recognised and acknowledged, and find the support they need and the justice they deserve. And make some sense of what happened to them, and of why they often struggle day to day as others seemingly forge ahead.
Our society once perennially blamed the victim, and often dismissed, ostracised and punished those, attempting to shine a light on the dark underbelly of abusive reality, including the victims themselves. For the last five years the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has modelled the transparency, justice and accountability needed to do just that. In so doing it shone a light on decades of abuse in thousands of Australian institutions, many mainstream, and scrutinised systems of power and hierarchy. It revealed how not only institutions but we, as a society, repeatedly failed our children, and over time, the adults they became.
Accordingly, beyond the life of the Commission, we must individually and collectively foster a new era – one which respects survivors and their journeys, and which is fair and just and empowering. One which not only honours the legacy of the Commission but also builds on it using everything we have learnt and know through research, survivor testimony and hearings. We must challenge old myths and disinformation and invest in research and the evidence it provides embracing the advances in understanding it fosters.
We need to measure up as a society, and uphold the principles of trust, mutual respect and fair treatment, and bring truth, justice and healing to victims of child abuse, who - as children but often still as adults - remain some of our most vulnerable members. This Blue Knot Day, and in the days, weeks, months and years which follow please join us in uniting in solidarity for survivors of child abuse and other traumas.
Please unite with us and show your support for adult survivors of childhood trauma this October, by lending your public voice to our social media campaign, #unitebkd2017, a Facebook campaign designed to unite us all in solidarity and support for adult survivors across Australia.
#unitebkd2017 is proudly supported by Shine Lawyers.