Commission for Children and Young People: " As a Good Parent Would "

Written on the 17 September 2015


16 September 2015

COUNCIL 

Statements on reports and papers 

 

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)

I am pleased to rise to speak about the Commission for Children and Young People's report entitled " as a good parent would ", tabled in August 2015, as well as the inquiry into the adequacy of the provision of services to children and young people who have been subjected to sexual exploitation or sexual abuse whilst residing in residential care.

As members will note, I have previously spoken to this report, commending commissioner Bernie Geary in relation to the work he undertook. I note that in his foreword he acknowledges many individuals, the openness of the agencies in the organisations while conducting the inquiry, some of the very confronting and distressing occurrences in residential care and the willingness by all to improve the situation.

As I might have done in my previous contribution, I make the point that the previous minister, a member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, Mary Wooldridge, was extremely supportive of the commissioner undertaking this inquiry. It is incumbent on governments and on us as legislators to do what we can in relation to our most vulnerable, and children in residential care are certainly some of our most vulnerable Victorians.

One of the areas in the report that I would like to tease out a little more in relation to some of the findings and observations throughout the inquiry was the analysis of the sexual abuse incident reports and the violent pornography which was prominent. Yesterday I spoke in the debate on the Crimes Amendment (Child Pornography and Other Matters) Bill 2015 and discussed the issues around why we need to toughen up sentences and take into consideration the serious nature of this heinous crime. The figures the library provided were quite extraordinary: 2 million child abuse images in circulation on Victorian computers and 7000 internet protocol addresses in Victoria accessing child abuse images at the highest point. It is potentially some of our most vulnerable children who are accessing some of this pornographic material. Clearly, as the report highlights, recent national research has indicated that young people are prolific users of social media and technology, with 93 per cent using social networking sites at least once a week. This goes to a comment in the report on page 56 that:

Violent pornography is now the most prominent sexuality educator for many young people.

I think that is a very disturbing statement and it goes to what we must do as governments and legislators to ensure that we protect our most vulnerable. The report says:

The inquiry saw evidence that pornography, social media and the internet play a significant role in the lives of vulnerable children and young people in residential care.The absence of any proactive, specialised education in the area of sexual health and safe relationships for children in residential care places our most vulnerable children and young people at an even greater disadvantage and heightened risk of further sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.

That is a very relevant point made by this inquiry as to how we need to deal with this.

Only yesterday I was speaking to people at one of the centres against sexual assault who told me they were in great demand, partly because of the royal commission but also because of what is going on in terms of this very issue of technology-based pornographic images, the amount of child-to-child sexual abuse and the counselling that is required. They are under great stress and great demand and require assistance from government to deal with those issues. I call on the government to address the funding shortfalls, because these are very serious issues and these children need counselling. Sometimes it is siblings who see these images and think it is all right to conduct dreadful sexual acts and exploitation

I see my time has run out, but I want to return to this report at some time. I commend the commissioner again.

 


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