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Posts from the ‘Child Protection and Professional Development’ Category

Launch of Cultural Diversity and Child Protection Report

On 17th July, I was able to launch my report, Cultural Diversity and Child Protection: A review of the Australian research on the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and refugee children and families in Brisbane with the kind support of the Queensland Commission of Children and Young People and Child Guardian, there were more than 40 people who attended the launch. The video from today’s launch will be uploaded to my website later on today.

I will be holding similar launch events in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart over the upcoming months. A copy of the report was sent to each Minister responsible for Child Protection in all states and territories and Children Commissioners, as well as senior policy makers in each state and territory. It is my hope that this research review will provide the necessary ‘evidence’ to ensure the needs of CALD and refugee communities are included into the Second 3 Year Action (2012-2015) under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children and also inform the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry.

You can access and download the PDF report from which has also been listed onto the Australian Policy online website.

This research report is the first publication of its kind to review the available research literature on the CALD and refugee families in the Australian Child Protection System (CPS).

This review was able to identify 13 publications describing Australian research completed between 1996 up to June 2012. The Research reviewed all the available Australian research evidence to establish ‘baseline knowledge’ for policymakers, practitioners and researchers.

The Report includes research on:

  • Cultural diversity in CALD and refugee communities
  • Risk factors for child abuse and neglect in CALD and refugee families
  • Communication and language considerations
  • Child protection assessment frameworks
  • Key messages from the Australian research on CALD and refugee families in CPS
  • Presentation of CALD and refugee communities in CPS and their experiences
  • Scoping Study on CALD and refugee children and young people in OOHC in Victoria.

This review identifies the emerging research on CALD and refugee communities coming to the attention of Australian child protection systems and proposes a number of recommendations to practitioners and policy makers to address the current gaps in service delivery data collection, policy and practice guidelines.

If you would like a hard copy of the report email Jatinder at

Jatinder Kaur, Director, JK Diversity Consultants


No Closed Doors

Inquiry Opened with a Promise of No Closed Doors

Yesterday, Commissioner Tim Carmody opened the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry.  His recommendations for the ‘road map’ for Queensland’s child protection system for the next decade, are due in 10 months.

In his introductory remarks, the Commissioner stressed that this is an Inquiry that would generally not be held “behind closed doors”.   A commitment was made to conduct the Inquiry in an open, inclusive and accessible manner so that the community can be kept informed and able to debate the issues.

The Commissioner explained that because it is a Commission of Inquiry, he was able to exercise discretion in choosing the best methods and tools for gathering information.  He invited everyone with a genuine interest in the matters being examined by the Inquiry to participate by, for example, lodging formal or informal submissions, describing their experiences and telling the Inquiry about their complaints and grievances as well as “giving credit where credit is due”.

Other methods to be used in gathering information that were outlined by the Commissioner included conducting public hearings as well as in camera hearings where confidentiality was required, examining departmental records, releasing discussion papers and holding on-line forums, listening to peak bodies and other stakeholder groups throughout Queensland, and consulting experts.

The Commissioner explained that the best source of information about the Inquiry will be their website  It will contain details of public hearings, written submissions and transcripts of proceedings.  Hearings will also be streamed live through the website.

PeakCare is very pleased that the Inquiry will offer a range of ways for stakeholders – peak bodies, service providers, parents, children, carers and researchers – to make their views and experiences known.  This means that the ‘road map’ is more likely to deliver well-informed ‘solutions’ to some seemingly intractable and entrenched problems.

Tonight, PeakCare is holding our first Roundtable Meeting about the inquiry with members and key partners invited to join with us in collaborating about key issues we wish to bring to the attention of the Inquiry and the best means for developing well-informed and useful submissions.

We are delighted that over 70 people have registered to attend and are committed to ensuring that this will be just the start of our collaboration with member agencies across the State.  Other on-line opportunities will be created for member agencies to participate in the development of our submissions as well as obtain information that may assist the development of their own submissions. Very importantly, we are looking forward to our face-to-face discussions at our “Meet the Protectors” Expos  that will be rolled-out over the rest of 2012.

Watch out for next week’s e-News to read about what happened at our initial Roundtable Meeting and the ways in which you can collaborate with us in preparing our submissions and contributing to the important work of the Child Protection Inquiry.

Lindsay Wegener

Executive Director – PeakCare Queensland

Meet The Protectors Expos

You’ve heard of The Avengers, you’ve heard of the Justice League of America, now meet The Protectors!

PeakCare is pleased to announce that the Child Protection Expos we will be hosting in five locations during 2012 will be named Meet The Protectors.  In keeping with our aim to ensure that the Expos are events about the people, by the people, for the people, this seems to be a very apt and appropriate title.  It is a title that gives due and proper acknowledgement of the many hundreds of people who, despite their mild-mannered appearance and demeanour, never waver in their quest to achieve the safety, wellbeing and equitable life opportunities of Queensland children, young people and families.   They are the often unsung heroes, like you, who continually wear a badge of child protection close to their hearts.


Key Expo events

Key events that will feature at each of the Expos will include the following:

  • Displays and presentations

A wide and diverse range of organisations – government and non-government – will be invited to show-case their work.  This may include providing a “trade display” where staff members are available to discuss the work of their organisation, verbal presentations delivered at regular intervals during the course of the day, audio-visual presentations and whatever other creative methods are devised by organisations to show-case their programs and services.

At each of the Expos, a prize will be awarded to the organisation that delivers the most innovative and appealing display or presentation, so start planning your organisation’s presentation now!

  • Roundtable discussions about matters relevant to the current Child Protection Inquiry

At each of the Expos, a number of roundtable discussions will be held about matters relevant to the recently announced Child Protection Inquiry being led by the Honourable Tim Carmody SC.     These facilitated discussions will be conducted in a format similar to the ABC’s Q&A.  Panel members will include local identities as well as others who have a State-wide focus and audience participation will, of course, be encouraged.

You may expect that the views and opinions expressed during these discussions will come to the attention of the Commission of Inquiry so make sure that your organisation’s voice is heard!

  • Recruitment of future staff

A major issue facing the child protection sector concerns our ability to attract a future workforce.  To this end, tertiary education providers are being invited to participate in the Expos and strategies will be implemented to engage secondary school students in visiting the Expos and considering a future career in the field of child protection.

Watch out for more information about these strategies in future editions of our eNews!

When and where the Expos will be held

Negotiations are now well underway to conduct Expos at:

1)      Logan City to cater for the corridor extending from southern Brisbane to the Gold Coast

2)      a location to cater for the corridor extending from northern Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast

3)      Toowomba

4)      Rockhampton, and

5)      Townsville.

You may expect that the Expos will be held in late September, October and early November.  As soon as confirmation of venues and dates are confirmed, this information will be widely advertised.

PeakCare is committed to keeping the costs of your organisation’s participation and attendance at the Expos low.  To this end, hosting the Expos in five separate locations is intended to eliminate much of the travelling and accommodation costs to organisations in enabling their staff to participate in events of this type.  Plus PeakCare believes in the importance of promoting a regional flavour!

As venue arrangements are finalised, details of costs will be included within the Expo advertisements.

 Your feedback and ideas

As we finalise our planning for the Meet The Protectors Expos, your feedback and ideas continue to be important to us.  If you have suggestions to make about your local Expo, please feel free to enter comments to this post or email

Lindsay Wegener

Executive Director – PeakCare Queensland

Don’t Miss the Missing People’s Conference

Every week, children and young people in care go missing – sometimes for only a few minutes or hours, sometimes for weeks, months or years.

Children, young people and families with whom you are working may also be experiencing the turmoil created when a member of their family is missing.

Make sure that you have registered to attend the Missing People: Issues and Implications Conference to be held at the Logan Campus of Griffith University on Thursday 5th and Friday 6th July 2012.

Two sessions incorporated within the Conference Program that have special importance and may be of great interest to you include:

  • A key note address by Dr Susan Robinson from Charles Sturt University about missing children, assumptions, investigative issues and outcomes, and
  • A Panel Discussion about children who go missing from care.

The Panel discussion will be facilitated by Professor Clare Tilbury (Griffith University) and the Panel Members will include Dr Julie Clarke (Griffith University), Lindsay Wegener (PeakCare Queensland), Detective Senior Sergeant Damien Powell (Missing Persons Unit, Queensland Police Service) and Belinda Mayfield (Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services).

Other themes for the conference include definitional and ethical issues, specific groups at risk, research and policy and service delivery frameworks.

The Conference will be held:

WHERE – Logan Campus, Griffith University

WHEN – Thursday 5th and Friday 6th July

COST –  One day $290, 2 days $450

Click here for further information

Child Protection Expos – Coming Your Way Soon

Planning for five Child Protection Expos to be held in different locations across the State is now well and truly underway.  We have selected a much more exciting title than Child Protection Expo, but you will need to wait before that is revealed in a future edition of eNews.

Our aim is to make the Child Protection Expos events that are about the people, for the people, by the people. 

About the people

Child protection is a “people-business”.  Our key asset is the people who design and deliver the services provided to thousands of Queensland children, young people and families every day of the week, every week of the year.  Our Child Protection Expos will be about show-casing your work so that others can meet and hear from you about the challenges you face as well as the success you experience every day in making a difference in the lives of children, young people and families.

To this end, a broad range of organisations – remembering that child protection is everyone’s business – will be invited to set up displays and presentations.  In addition, a series of facilitated “roundtable discussions” will be held during the course of each Expo to hear your views and exchange opinions about topical issues concerning child protection.

For the people

The Expos will be held in five locations – we would hold them in even more locations if we possibly could!   This is to maximise the capacity of people to attend an Expo and to keep the costs of their attendance low.

At this stage, we are planning to hold an Expo:

1)      within the corridor extending from southern Brisbane through Logan City and Beenleigh to the Gold Coast

2)      within the corridor extending from northern Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast

3)      at Toowomba

4)      at Rockhampton, and

5)      at Townsville.

By the people

We need your participation and support to make the Expos a success – so that we can truly say that they are events about the people, for the people, by the people!

To this end, we are inviting expressions of interest from people who would like to be our “sounding boards” and “fonts of local knowledge”.  Your major role would be to serve as contact people with whom PeakCare staff can consult about:

  • local venues that might be suitable for an Expo and their preferred dates
  • local organisations that can be invited to set up displays and deliver presentations
  • ways in which news about each Expo can be distributed amongst local networks and attendance encouraged
  • local people who may be invited to participate as panel members during roundtable discussions, and
  • the topics that should be addressed during the roundtable discussions to ensure that there is a mix of State-wide and local issues covered.

If you are interested in being a local contact person, please send an email to Your email should briefly state the name of the organisation you work for, the position you hold within this organisation and your contact details.  You may also like to add any particular ways in which you may be able to provide assistance such as your membership of a local interagency group.

Over oncoming weeks, you will hear more about a range of promotional activities that we will be conducting to make sure that the Expos are events to remember.  Please feel free to enter comments to this post or email about any ideas you have or features that you would like us to incorporate within the Expos – remember that the Expos are to be about the people, for the people, by the people so your comments and feedback will be very much appreciated!

Lindsay Wegener

Executive Director – PeakCare Queensland

Intensive Foster Care Program Description Now Available

You may recall that in late 2011, PeakCare hosted the “What’s Special about Specialist Foster Care?”  workshop that brought together non-government organisations and representatives from the (then) Department of Communities.

This workshop was used to consider findings of a literature review undertaken by the Department about this form of out-of-home care and inform the development of a new program description by the Department.   PeakCare also initiated the collection of feedback from providers of these services to further inform our discussions with the Department about the new program description.

Now known as “intensive foster care” in preference to “specialist foster care”, the “intensive foster care program description” was approved earlier this year, and is now available on the Department’s website

Also available on the same page are the literature review and consultation report that informed the development of the program description.

The program description provides a definition of intensive foster care and sets out the requirements for the delivery of this program.  In summary, intensive foster care is described as a program offering placements and intensive support for children and young people in out-of-home care who require therapeutic support for complex and extreme levels of needs.  Children or young people are placed in the home of an approved foster or kinship carer (or provisionally approved carer), with intensive support provided to the placement by a non-government intensive foster care service.

The core components of the program detailed within the program description include:

  • a therapeutic focus for service provision
  • the conduct of intensive case management for each child or young person
  • a clearly articulated teamwork approach to caring for the child or young person
  • additional training requirements for carers of intensive foster care placements, and
  • a clear process for determining whether a carer is suited to providing intensive foster care placements

Click here to read more

TRAMP Update

Drumroll please!

Julie and Miff here at TRAMP HQ are excited to announce that tickets to The Disappearance Project at the Judith Wright Centre are on sale now!

The Helpmann Award-winning ensemble (This Kind of Ruckus) version 1.0 comes to the Judith Wright Centre this July with their extraordinary production The Disappearances Project.  Exploring the effects of long-term missing persons cases on family members and communities drawn from years of police investigations and research, The Disappearances Project looks at what happens to the “left-behind.’

Do they hope or do they grieve?  How do they navigate their everyday existence?  Version 1.0 quietly traces the edges of this void, shedding light on the emotional journeys of those left behind.

As many of you will know, Julie’s research was utilised in the crafting of this script and the production promises to be a unique and moving experience.

Here’s what the critics are saying:

“The Disappearances Project is a compelling piece of theatre, unorthodox enough to generate unwavering interest yet believable enough to be deeply relatable. In the final blackout, the fraction of a second’s hesitation before applause signified the audience’s lingering entrenchment before surfacing for breath. There’s no substitute for witnessing genuinely original live theatre; what a privilege!”

Courtney J Pascoe,

“This is far from a bleak production, despite its painful subject. I can’t recall an hour in the theatre going by more quickly, driven by the poetry of the text, the quality of the performances and the sounds and images in which they are framed”.

David Zampatti, The West Australian

Click here to purchase tickets from the Judith Wright Centre

Tickets range in price from $25 (student) to $35 (full price), for evening performances on 3rd, 5th and 6th July with a matinee performance on the 4th July.

Alternatively, our event coordinators at e-Kiddna are offering the purchase of tickets via their website.

We would love it if you’d join us for our VIP event which coincides with the official opening night of The Disappearances Project on Thursday 5th July.  Even if you’re not attending the Missing People Conference, you can still purchase a $55 VIP ticket to the conference social event which includes:

  • your ticket to The Disappearances Project
  • entry into the exclusive VIP event at the Judith Wright Centre Shopfront
  • drinks and light canapés, and
  • optional bus transfers to and from the Logan Campus, Griffith University and the Judith Wright Centre.

Click here to purchase your VIP ticket, or if you’d like to simply purchase a theatre ticket for the reduced group rate of $30

Julie and I would be thrilled to see you there.

More news to follow . . . . . . . . . . .

Miff Trevor

Theatre Raising Awareness of Missing People (T.R.A.M.P.)
Masters of Social Work (Q) student on field placement
Ph: 07 3382 1124 | Email:

We Joined in a Journey

A few short weeks ago (seems much longer ago than that), PeakCare in association with other peak bodies involved with the Combined Voices Campaign – the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak, Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Human Services Coalition, the CREATE Foundation and Queensland Council of Social Services – came up with an idea to commemorate National Sorry Day.

This idea involved placing a full-page open letter to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Queensland in the Courier Mail.

I am not about to tell you the words that will feature within our open-letter – they will be there for you to read in this Saturday’s Courier Mail.  What I do want to talk with you about now is the journey we took in bringing our idea to fruition.

Some of the thinking underpinning our idea to publish an open-letter in the Courier Mail was as follows:

  • In preference to writing about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, we wanted to write a letter to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Queensland – a letter containing a personalised and heartfelt message to them.
  • Whilst addressed to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Queensland, we wanted to make a public statement – one that would be accessible to, and potentially read by, all Queenslanders – Indigenous and non-Indigenous
  • We wanted this public statement to be read not only by our Member Agencies and people involved in the delivery of services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families – we wanted it to be accessible to, and read by, Queenslanders from all walks of life so that they could also be informed about the significance of National Sorry Day
  • We are also hoping and confident that our open-letter will attract other mainstream and social media attention so that further attention can be brought to the findings of the Bringing Them Home Report.
  • As most signatories to the open-letter will be non-Indigenous organisations, we wanted the letter to clearly state that we do not presume to speak on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, nor do we pretend to fully comprehend the pain caused to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by forced child removal policies of the past or to understand the best paths for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to take in their healing and recovery.  That is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples themselves to determine.
  • As leaders of Queensland society however, we do claim the right and moral responsibility to speak out about the kinds of values, beliefs and attitudes we bring to our relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to denounce racism in all its forms.
  • We have an obligation to stand by, and to be seen as standing by, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends, colleagues and clients in addressing injustices of the past and the ongoing impact of these injustices on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities today.
  • That is what our letter is seeking to achieve.

A little over 3 weeks ago, we sent out our request to you, our Member Agencies and Supporters, to help us raise the funds needed to pay for the full-page open letter.  The letter itself is costing $19,500 but we decided to set a target of $30,000.

It is testament to your generosity and commitment that in such a short period of time, we have raised around $24,000 – a little short of our $30,000 goal but more than sufficient to pay for the full-page letter and leave us enough left over to invest in other future projects and activities of the Combined Voices Campaign.  As we are continuing to receive pledges, it may well be that we eventually end up reaching the $30,000 target.

We appreciate that for some organisations, the tight time frame was insufficient for you to obtain the necessary approvals from your Boards or Management Committees to make a pledge.  We apologise for this and will attempt to give you more notice in the future.  We were aware that the time frame was short, but thought it was nevertheless worth a shot at not letting the opportunity pass us by.

We also appreciate that for some organisations, more time was needed for them to internally discuss and debate whether or not they agreed with the notion of the open-letter and what the letter represents.  If the open-letter has prompted your organisation to enter into these kinds of discussions and debates, then we think that this is a good thing.  They are discussions that all organisations need to have and we wish you well as you pursue them further.

In formulating the wording of our open-letter, we consulted with the National Sorry Day Committee and the National Healing Foundation.

In drawing this post to a close, I would like to draw your attention to the following extract of an email received from the National Healing Foundation:

The Healing Foundation would like to express our thanks to the organisations of Queensland that have elevated this issue and have meaningfully made a contribution to our national debate, keeping the apology alive as we all strive to address the many issues that past government policies have resulted in for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We have a long way to go in healing the many hurts inflicted, but this letter will let many people know that they are not alone in that journey and this is not to be underestimated in its impact.

We are proud to be associated with this project.

Perhaps the most meaningful feedback that we received came to us from a member of the Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Reference Group.  This feedback was magnificent in its simplicity.  It stated:

Just say to them – THANK YOU!

I am now passing on that thanks to you.  Thank you for your pledges and of your generous support of this project.  I am hoping that when you read the letter in Saturday’s edition of the Courier Mail that you will feel pleased with, and justifiably proud of the part that you have played, in delivering the very important messages contained within our open-letter to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Queensland.

Lindsay Wegener

Executive Director – PeakCare Queensland

Artwork by Nyree Reynolds, sourced from Aboriginal Art Directory Online

Insurance Myths and Mysteries

PeakCare dares you to join us in a frightening journey into the unknown.  Our journey’s mission is to unravel the mysteries of insurance and clarify how it affects you, your organisation and clients.

Together and with the help of some expert advice, we will debunk the myths and discover the facts.  No stone will be left unturned nor small print defeat us, as we courageously tackle the beast named INSURANCE.

Can you be sure that your understandings about insurance are correct?  How confident are you that your organisation, your staff or clients are not being disadvantaged by having succumbed to a mis-placed belief in some of the myths?  Are you brave enough to join us in this quest and find out the facts?

As a first step in our journey, you are invited to submit any questions you have about insurance that you have never felt quite brave enough to ask before.  Alternatively, you may like to send us stories or scenarios that describe some of your own encounters or difficulties that you have experienced with insurance.

These questions and stories can be entered as comments to this post – anonymously if you prefer – or alternatively you can email your questions and stories to  These questions and stories will then be added to the post by us.  If you prefer to not be identified as the author of a question or story, please let us know this within your email.

Your questions or stories may relate to insurance issues that are of concern to your organisation or to members of your staff, contractors or carers.

We are expecting that as questions and stories are entered into the post, they will generate more queries, questions and online conversation.

Periodically, we will obtain expert industry advice in formulating responses to your questions and stories.  Eventually, these will be compiled in a “Question and Answer” format and be made available online to all PeakCare Member Agencies and Supporters.

Debunking the myths

As previously noted, the aims of this exercise are to de-bunk the myths that often seem to feature in the understandings held by organisations and/ or individuals about insurance.  These myths can sometimes significantly disadvantage organisations, their staff, carers or clients.

As an example, what’s your opinion of the accuracy or otherwise of this statement:

“Any damage to property by a young person living in a residential service- either accidental or deliberate- must be reported to the Police Service in order for the service to claim on their insurance.”

Is this a myth or fact?  What are the possible implications of the understandings held by your organisation and staff about this issue in relation to their practice?  Perhaps you may like to enter some comments below in response to these questions.

Another example:

“The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services has a policy that states that any property damage caused by a child or young person living in either a residential service or foster care must be reported to the Police Service.  The Department’s position is that this is the only way in which children and young people can learn about the consequences of their behaviour and the Department will not accept any claims for ex-gratia payments if the property damage has not been reported to the Police.”

Myth or fact?  Is this entirely true, only partly true or completely false?  Enter some comments below that indicate your understandings about whether or not such a policy exists.

All questions great and small

No questions that you submit will be regarded as too big or too small.  All will be viewed as important and deserving of a response.

Lindsay Wegener

Executive Director – PeakCare Queensland

May Day… All May long

“To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years.  To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”  Winston Churchill

Here we are again in May – Domestic Violence Month – 2012.  Here we are again with a whole month dedicated to domestic violence.  Why a whole month?  Do we really need to focus attention on this issue for that long?  I’d love to say that it is not necessary given that many other significant issues only require a day or a week to highlight the concerns.  However, given the realities of domestic abuse, we need this issue on our radar the whole year through.


Domestic violence is still one of the most pervasive issues in our society.  Abuse against women is rampant.  The impacts on women and children in our society cost us sociologically.  It also costs us to the tune of billions annually economically in paying individually and collectively for the short and long term impacts of such abuse against women and children.

Most significantly domestic violence kills. It is our silent epidemic.   Each year at least a quarter of murders in Queensland result from domestic violence.  This is a fairly consistent statistic throughout recent years.

Whilst we have all the research about patriarchy, complacency, victim blame and the like, it is still hard to make sense of why any human being would be either accepting of or complacent with regard to those who exert power over their partners. Particularly when the statistics so clearly demonstrate the likelihood of horrific outcomes such as long term trauma impacts for the victim, children and other family members or death.

Last May I wrote the blog post Permission to Perpetrate, which outlined the need for our society to pay attention to the acts of perpetrators and address biases by recognising that women do not invite abuse, but rather that perpetrators plan it, defend themselves against any backlash and gather pawns in their game to support their perpetration.  This year not much has changed.  Thus we again highlight that domestic violence is the choice and responsibility of the perpetrator.  Their actions not only hurt women who are their current or former intimate partners, wives and mothers of their children, it also harms their children and their families as a whole.

So why are we still so focused on the women who are abused?  Why are there so many myths about women who experience domestic violence such as: they don’t tell the truth, they nag and invite it?  We know through on-going research that women are more likely to stay silent about domestic violence than to speak out against their perpetrator so such myths act only as excuses for perpetrators.  Click here for some of the common myths and fact responses to these myths.

Some advances however have been made in Australia since PeakCare’s 2011 May blog post:

In Queensland the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 1989 was reviewed and federally the Family Violence (and Other Measures) Bill 2011 was passed in December 2011.  This bill contains a number of amendments designed to strengthen the Act in relation to the protection of children in environments where family violence has been present.

PeakCare responded to the call for submissions for these legislative changes. When I placed these proposed legislative changes on my ‘google alerts’ to keep myself abreast of the issues, I was dumbfounded by the on-going commentaries that spoke of such proposed legislative amendments as sexist, feminist and an affront to men.  Most significantly the feedback suggested such legislation designed to address domestic violence and child abuse was undermining fathers in Australian society.

So, I started to read more closely in an endeavour to make sense of such relentless diatribes espousing this legislation as the work of ‘man haters’.  Men or fathers aren’t the target of the legislation, perpetrators of abuse are.   Little recognition was given to the fact this legislation was designed to protect children and adult victims of domestic violence regardless of gender.

Even if we were to see this legislation as protection for women and children, which it largely is due to the fact that they are the most common victims of domestic violence, why is protecting women and children from violence and abuse a process of undermining fatherhood or maleness in any way? In what way were the rights of loving fathers being undermined as major contributors to their children’s lives?

Why is there a sense that by affording equal rights and mutual respect to women and children, most notably the right to safety and well-being, men are somehow being vilified?  Their rights are somehow being trampled.  How?  As the White Ribbon Campaign, a campaign led by men internationally against violence towards women states:  The majority of men are not abusers but all men need to speak up and be united against violence perpetrated on women.

In closing, a quote from an icon of our time, a man who has a real grasp of horror:

“There’s a phrase, “the elephant in the living room”, which purports to describe what it’s like to live with … an abuser. People outside such relationships will sometimes ask, “How could you let such a business go on for so many years? Didn’t you see the elephant in the living room?” And it’s so hard for anyone living in a more normal situation to understand the answer that comes closest to the truth: “I’m sorry, but it was there when I moved in. I didn’t know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture.” There comes an aha-moment for some folks – the lucky ones – when they suddenly recognize the difference.”  Stephen King

The elephant is not just in living rooms.  These elephants are part of our society and indicative of our silence in accepting and remaining silent about domestic violence.

A society intent on equality and mutual respect is not an affront to men or masculinity.  It is a society that respects all citizens regardless of gender, creed or any other difference.  It is one that endorses respectful behaviour and freedom from abuse for all.

Click here to visit the Queensland Government’s Act as 1 campaign webpage

Lorraine Dupree

Policy and Research Manager PeakCare Qld