Remembering and Having Difficult Conversations

by PeakCare Qld on 5th September 2013

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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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“…It was society that failed those children.  In acknowledging that, we must ensure that the same wrongs are not repeated, and that this Inquiry has a positive outcome…Let us resolve to ensure that systems and policies leave no room for abuse, and create a framework for building a better future.

Leneen Forde, Chairperson, Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions, 1999.

At Remembrance Day 2013, the Ceremony that honours Forgotten Australians and a highlight event of Child Protection Week, key themes of courage, integrity and strength resonated with astounding clarity.   Kay McGrath, the Ambassador of Child Protection Week and a major advocate for child protection, guided the formalities and in doing so noted the significance of the Forde Inquiry and the aims that: no child be harmed in care ever again and that those who perpetrate be held to account.  She also spoke of the strength of many in the room and affirmed the courage it took in speaking out about child abuse. 

Uncle Des Sandy in his Welcome to Country spoke of the meaning of Kurilpa, the land on which the Ceremony was held and talked about the Water Rat as the Totem.  Closely following in her address, Hon. Tracy Davis, Minister for Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services acknowledged the words of Uncle Des and offered a special note of thanks to Kay McGrath for her passion as a staunch supporter of child protection in Queensland.  

Whilst both Minister Davis and Kay McGrath thanked dignitaries such as Assistant Minister for Child Safety Tarnya Smith and A/Children’s Commissioner Barry Salmon for their presence and commitment to child protection in Queensland, they both highlighted our Forgotten Australians and the significance of the Ceremony in acknowledging their strength, courage, tenacity and generosity. 

When all is said and done, all those who suffered horrific abuse found the courage to speak their truth and did so through the Forde Inquiry and beyond.  They spoke for future children, not for themselves as the harm had been done.  Their voices were united to ensure that no other child would ever be subjected to the same systemic or societal cruelty, punishment, torture, rape, neglect or the myriad of other abuses that were perpetrated against them.

Kay McGrath, Minister Davis, Uncle Des Sandy and the outstanding musical talents of Forgotten Australians together with an awe inspiring 15 year old Didgeridoo player set the scene for the unforgettable words of Remembrance Day’s Guest Speaker.  Adele Chenoweth, Curator of:  Inside: Life in Children’s Homes and Institutions, National Museum Australia, delivered the most apt of keynote addresses, one that will resonate with most in the room long beyond this Remembrance Day Ceremony or Child Protection Week.

Ms Chenoweth told of being an Historian and challenging one of the most highly regarded Historians in Australia.  This person had the power to write history and possessed such clout as to influence what other writers of history published. 

Adele had a difficult conversation with this person over coffee. She couldn’t believe that our history books were totally bereft of any mention of Forgotten Australians.  There was not one word in history books about the abuse of children in institutional or out of home care.  This was not acceptable.  She said so.  This Historian then worked hard to rectify the issue and change happened within a few months.  History was re-written to include the truth of Forgotten Australians – all from one difficult conversation over coffee.

Ms Chenoweth clarified that this story was not about her, nor was it about this leading Historian.  It was about Forgotten Australians - those who agitated for change and encouraged her to do so too.  Those who rang, wrote, emailed and told of their trauma and taught her the lessons of history through their own stories and experiences:  

“…Those who were brave enough and generous enough to tell me when I got it wrong.  You taught me the importance of having difficult conversations.  Reality is hard.  You assisted those who need to hear it.” 

She then went on to speak of how Forgotten Australians have motivated others to talk of these issues.  In doing so Senate Inquiries have been conducted and the Royal Commission of Inquiry is now in place.

“You taught me truth and courage.  You are my teachers of history and of strength.”

Adele Chenoweth acknowledged that remembering is hard.  History hurts.  However we must remember to make sure that whatever we do in the future is right. We must acknowledge what came before and those who endured it to ensure that their voices protect children now and into the future.   In an incredibly confronting and moving statement, she acknowledged all those who were: removed from families without support, denied contact with parents, housed far away from siblings, harmed, denied basic nutrition for growth, punished, neglected, starved, tortured and raped; those who tried to tell about their abuse and weren’t heard; those locked up without trial, subjected to medical tests and those who ensured the cover ups, the destruction of crucial evidence and the legal processes that prevented justice.

She then went on to acknowledge those who finally listened.  Of particular note were those who took risks and stood up to superiors with greater power.  She offered many examples such as junior politicians who stood up to senior members in ensuring the voices of abused children and Forgotten Australians were heard.    

She concluded in stating that:  “Child protection on the cheap isn’t child protection at all”.

Ultimately the key take home messages from the 2013 Remembrance Day Ceremony were poignant:

  • Remembering takes courage and strength as does telling your story. 
  • Those who remember and share their stories make history.
  • This history assists all who are prepared to engage in difficult conversations to speak the truth to ensure that the horror of child abuse as experienced by Forgotten Australians and others who’ve known such atrocities never happens again.

As Adele Chenoweth so articulately stated, we need to acknowledge this history to ensure we learn from it, have difficult conversations to evoke change and never repeat it.  Never allowing this abuse to happen again was the primary sentiment of this ceremony from Forgotten Australians. It echoed the findings of the Forde Inquiry and was endorsed by all who participated in the formalities. 



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