Sunday Territorian

Victims first

Children’s trauma is at the heart of the escalating politicisa­tion of sex abuse victims


As we get closer to the referendum on changing the Constituti­on to add an Indigenous voice to federal parliament, a strong focus is falling on crime in the Territory.

Politician­s from both the No Campaign and the Yes Campaign are making Territory crime – especially offending in Alice Springs and Darwin – a key theme in their bid to garner support for their sides of the argument.

Only people with their heads in the sand would be unaware of the simmering tensions in the NT regarding violence, especially crimes fuelled by alcohol and other substance abuse.

This past week we’ve seen increased attention on child sex abuse offending, with Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and CLP Senator Jacinta Price both claiming widespread abuse of Indigenous children in the NT.

Police Minister Kate Worden has hit back at Mr Dutton and Senator Price over their comments while another MLA labelled Mr

Dutton’s words as a ‘dog act’. For context, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows 95.5 children per 1000 in the NT were the subject of an investigat­ion or notificati­on to child protection services in 2020/2021.

It’s easy to get bogged down in statistics but there’s one thing our leaders need to remember when focusing on the trauma suffered by our children, regardless of their skin colour or culture.

At the heart of every one of these numbers is an innocent child or teenager who has endured violation and trauma, which will impact every part of their life.

Political rhetoric won’t heal their suffering or prevent perpetrato­rs from repeating their crimes.

We need less tit-for-tat on child abuse and more policy and funding commitment­s, especially around mental health and other support services to ensure victims are cared for.

At the heart of this debate is human suffering – and every leader needs to remember this.

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