Calling on Australias Heart to Integrate with the Hearts of Forgotten Australians

by Peakcare Qld on 10th September 2014

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Minister Fentiman delivers enthralling speech at PeakCare's AGM

by PeakCare Qld
on 12th December 2016

If you were unable to attend PeakCare’s AGM on Wednesday, 7th December 2016, make sure you read the enthralling speech delivered by the Honourable Shannon Fentiman MP, Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence.

PeakCare's Board for 2017

by PeakCare Qld
on 12th December 2016

Your candidates for PeakCare's Board for 2017

by PeakCare Qld
on 30th November 2016

New Family and Child Connect services (FaCC), Intensive Family Support services (IFS) and specialist Domestic and Family Violence services

by PeakCare Qld
on 18th August 2016

The Queensland Government Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (the department) wishes to advise of the release of an Expression of Interest (EOI) for Mount Isa / Gulf Family Support and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention and Support Services

More about the Royal Commission into the South Australian child protection system

by PeakCare Qld
on 18th August 2016

The South Australian Child Protection Systems Royal Commission Report, The life they deserve, was released in early August 2016. The report is presented in two volumes. The first volume sets out what the Royal Commission did to examine the adequacy of current laws and policies to protect children and young people, system deficits and 260 recommendations addressing a wide range of structural, system and practice aspects across the SA government and service system. The second volume contains 5 case studies that examine the operation of the system and practice quality in specific areas. Four focus on the individual circumstances of young children, intervening in high risk families, leaving care, and children with complex needs in out of home care.

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Whilst each year we speak of the Awards Ceremony as the highlight of child protection week because we celebrate so many committed individuals and programs making a difference in the lives of children and families, the Remembrance Day ceremony is usually the event that takes our hearts.  This year was no exception. 

Kay McGrath welcomed dignitaries, Tracy Davis MP, Minister for Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, Tarnya Smith MP, Assistant Minister for Child Safety, the 22nd Governor of Queensland and Chair of the Forde Inquiry, Leneen Forde, Dr Adele Chenoweth, Geraldine Knapp and Karen Walsh and the team at Micah Projects. 

She spoke of the Forde Inquiry and the statement of so many children and young people who were asked what they wanted as an outcome of the Inquiry.  They stated that they wanted to ensure that abuse of children in care never happened again.  Kay acknowledged the courage of so many who have experienced abuse and neglect, their capacity to break the silence and their significance as strong voices for reform in the child protection system.

Aunty Valda Coolwell, in delivering the Welcome to Country, told those present: “You are not forgotten anymore.  You have been heard through the Forde Inquiry and Members of Parliament.  You are where you belong”.

The St Mary of the Cross Cultural Dance group then performed a number of traditional dances to the applause of those present.  Their leader, Maude, reminding us of the significance of our children and the important role they play in our Country.

Minister Davis talked about her ongoing commitment to the Forgotten Australians and her commitment to Queensland children being safe and in a loving environment.  She thanked Assistant Minister Tarnya Smith for her deep commitment to children and families.  She acknowledged Geraldine Knapp, representing the Lord Mayor, and paid particular thanks to Leneen Forde.

She spoke of the exhibition, INSIDE - Life in Children’s Homes and Institutions.  She gave her thoughts to those who have suffered horrific abuse and all that they’ve been through.  She said that one of the great privileges of her role as Minister was meeting the Forgotten Australians and really hearing their stories and what they’d endured.  Without being the Minister she may never have heard or understood their stories.  She acknowledged the strength and resilience of those who have been tireless advocates in their united cause for children in the system to ensure that what happened to them never happens again.

Video screens were set up facing the river over GOMA to feature the song and video clip of Mark Torr.  Mark grew up in institutional care in Victoria.  His song entitled Justice for One and All was dedicated to all those who lost their lives to abuse, either through direct or indirect consequences. 

Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald then took to the stage as the Guest Speaker for Remembrance Day 2014.  In doing so he offered the apologies of the Honourable Justice Peter McClellan, Chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Commissioner Fitzgerald spoke of the major impact of governments in the protection of children through their policies.  He noted the government at the time of the Forde Inquiry for their courage.  He also welcomed Queensland’s Child and Family Commission and all the possibilities that entails.  Above all he applauded the advocacy of workers and Forgotten Australians.

He talked about meeting with people aged 13 to 83 who all had the courage to tell their stories and change future responses to abuse for Australians.  The 83 year old man he spoke of had never told anyone about his abuse.  Talking to the commission was the first time he’d told his story. Commissioner Fitzgerald noted the courage of the human spirit that he experienced with regularity in his current role.  He said of all the roles he’s ever had in life this one has changed him forever.

He noted the physical, sexual, spiritual, cultural and emotional abuses of child migrants, the stolen generation, children in institutional care and families.  He particularly focused on the abuse of trust by those who had the power and used it to destructive ends. 

Regarding today’s society he spoke about abuse within families as the great scourge of Australia today that continues mostly unabated. He stated that shocking and terrible abuses happened in the past and that is true.  Shocking and terrible abuses continue to happen today and that is also true.

In moving forward we need hope – we need to change professional practice, examine criminal justice systems and Police, court systems, institutions and how offenders are dealt with.  The good news is that change is already underway.  “Real hope lies with the stories already told, your experiences and knowledge becomes our wisdom.”   Through the insights, capacities and resilience of those who have spoken out the Royal Commission is able to put forward reports and recommendations. 

Commissioner Fitzgerald spoke of his role as the most impactful ever in his career and one that has changed him, mostly for the better.  That change he attributes to the courage, resilience and achievements of those who’ve told their stories that have touched him.  In his final comments he stated: “Australia will change easily when the heart of our nation beats with the heart of survivors of abuse.  If we do that, extraordinary change will happen in Australia.”

The Ceremony of acknowledging Forgotten Australians then took place with the lighting of candles and Statements of Acknowledgement of Forgotten Australians, the Stolen Generation, Former British Child Migrants, those affected by Forced Adoptions and the Acknowledgement of Young People, Advocacy and Support.

Karen Walsh then spoke of the 15 year Anniversary of the Forde Inquiry.  She applauded the many advocates who have expressed their call to justice.  She offered a minutes silence for those who’ve passed.

Just when we thought that no further heart could be added to this celebration of those Forgotten Australians who through their tenacity and will have changed the landscape of Australian child protection forever, Christine Harms-Evans took to the stage to sing Hallelujah.   A sombre room smiled with her as her energy exuded hope and optimism and her beautiful voice raised the room singing Hallelujah with such passion as to shame the most famous singers having gone before her. 

Next year we need to ensure that Christine’s voice is the one we google on YouTube.  For now, to share this moment with those not present and remind those present of this beautiful closing song to the ceremony, it is KD Lang we share – until Christine’s rendition is available!   


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