Indigenous child advocates and medical bodies have criticized the Coalition’s call for a royal commission into child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities, arguing the issue should not be politicized.
- The Coalition has renewed its push for a royal commission
- This was met with widespread opposition from indigenous child advocates and medical organizations.
- They say the calls play on “the lowest negative perceptions” of indigenous people.
Some have gone further and suggested that the calls play into negative perceptions of indigenous people and communities.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Jacinta Nampijinpa Price have repeatedly called for a royal commission.
Speaking to Federal Parliament this morning, Mr Dutton argued this should be a major concern of the Government.
“This Prime Minister does not consider it a priority that this Parliament calls for the creation of a royal commission to understand what is happening and that there is such a significant prevalence of child sexual abuse within Indigenous communities” , did he declare.
“Not within all indigenous communities, of course not.
“Where that’s not happening, where elders are mobilizing, where leadership is being provided in those communities, let’s replicate that in other communities where that’s not the case.”
He suggested there were a range of issues that merited an investigation such as a royal commission.
“The use of pornographic material, the use of devices, the power imbalance that exists in certain communities are topics that need to be addressed,” he said.
These calls have been strongly rejected by more than 30 Indigenous agencies, child welfare advocates and medical organizations.
These include the Coalition of Peaks on Closing the Gap, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organization and SNAICC, the national body representing Aboriginal children.
In a joint statement, the organizations argued that targeting Indigenous communities was unjustified.
“If a politician, or anyone, has evidence of child sexual abuse, they should report it to the authorities,” they said.
“These calls for a royal commission into Aboriginal child sexual abuse have been made without any real evidence being presented.
“They play on some people’s lowest negative perceptions of Indigenous people and communities.”
The groups argued that although child abuse was too prevalent in Australia, they cited government data indicating that Indigenous children are less likely than non-Indigenous children to be the subject of a substantiated case of sexual abuse on minor.
Indigenous Labor MP criticizes ‘pure politics’ behind royal commission call
Labor MP Marion Scrymgour, who represents the Northern Territory seat of Lingiari, argued calls for a royal commission echoed arguments made for intervention in the Northern Territory.
The controversial intervention was launched by the Howard government in 2007, in response to media reports and a public inquiry into child sexual abuse.
Ms Scrymgour strongly criticized Ms Dutton’s approach to the issue of child sexual abuse.
“There is a trend in the words of the leader of the opposition,” she said.
“Every time he needs a political outcome, he politicizes and uses indigenous communities as a weapon.
“He’s not interested in substance or policy development.”
During his speech in Parliament, Mr Dutton said last weekend’s referendum result on an Indigenous voice in Parliament was an expression of support for his position.
“The Australian people did not want to continue to be smoke and mirrors,” he said.
“They didn’t want another committee, they didn’t want another ATSIC. They want practical action.”
In a statement, the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory said there had been sufficient investigation into the situation of young people in Aboriginal communities.
And they suggest the resources a royal commission would need could be better spent elsewhere.
“Rather than generating more recommendations from even more inquiries, we need to ensure we implement existing recommendations from previous inquiries, including those from the Royal Commission into the Detention and Protection of Children,” they declared.
“On the other hand, political grandstanding by those who have actively campaigned to prevent indigenous communities from speaking out on issues that concern us can only be divisive and destructive.”