Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 959 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
Education should include education of children, young people and adults on the value of human rights. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child attempts to list the universal rights of children. Australian became a signatory to this convention in 1990. The convention states that every child has the right to protection from abuse and neglect by parents and care givers and a regular review of any placements that might be necessary for care, protection or treatment. I do not think this is big ask-a right to protection from abuse. It is children whose individual development and social contribution shape the world's future as well as being part of the now.
Secondly, the cure element of a solution would be treatment programs for offenders and support for all families and children that need it. Keeping families together in harmonious environments must be a goal.
Finally, legislation is required to protect the rights of children, young people and their families-legislation to ensure that convicted offenders do not have access to children in unsupervised settings and legislation to ensure participation of children and young people in the decision-making processes that affect their lives.
Protection of children is no longer a question of what is possible; it is a question of what is given priority. Those who have the responsibility and resources to act must decide whether child protection is one of their top priorities. It is certainly a priority of mine.
This motion adds its support to the National March for Children that is going to occur in every state and territory this Sunday. I welcome the chance to put on the record the Assembly's support for this march. I understand that both Ms Tucker and I will be speaking, and I hope that we will not be the only MLAs in support of our children.
This march is not a protest but a way of letting government, both territory and federal, know how serious the community is about prevention, services and education. We know too much about the effects of child abuse to continue to live in a state of denial and ignorance. Continuing to deny that there is a problem only promotes more silence and in turn more abuse.
That is why I am happy, on behalf of the Democrats, to support this motion and to attend the march on Sunday. I am not into political point scoring as a rule, but I am into speaking out on the problem and the ways of solving the problem. That being said, I do believe that Mr Cornwell's comments are such that I should support this Assembly in rejecting them, and I will continue fighting for children and the young people of the ACT. That is why I am here.
MS TUCKER (6.08): I have read Mr Cornwell's letter, and I would like to respond to some of the points that are made, on my reading of this letter. On the question of what is the march is to achieve, Mr Cornwell in his letter says:
There can be few people in Australia who are unaware of child protection issues. There are laws governing abuses, there is mandatory reporting and there will be further steps taken to improve protection of children-what is the march to achieve?
Further, to claim the march is not a protest is at best naive, at worst a state of denial and ignorance and I am not prepared to involve myself in such a charade.