As a fourth generation Australian I felt, while growing up, that I belonged here. All of that changed when I married a boy from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’. I didn’t understand why my parents were so vehemently opposed to the marriage. They no doubt understood what has taken me decades to realize. Australia is not a classless country, or the Lucky Country. If you have the misfortune to end up on the wrong side of its Child Removal industry, this country is able to reduce even fourth generation Australians to the kind of lives refugees have been condemned to. If you are a First Australian, you have even more reason to question why your communities have been relegated to the ‘wrong side of the tracks’.
I haven’t heard of Diane Abbot before, but her remarks strike a chord. When the economy is suffering, particular groups are targeted by welfare and scapegoated by politicians and the media. Wouldn’t it be transformative if, instead of viewing welfare recipients as the “other” in society, we could see ourselves in each person who is less fortunate?
We might create a future when families are not targeted as if poverty were a choice. The most elementary principles of sociology recognize the existence of an idea known as the ‘meritocracy’. This concept is applied to ‘guilt trip’ people who have worked hard using good brains, yet failed to succeed in life, and have fallen by the wayside. Often the event that pushed them over the edge was childhood sexual abuse by someone in a position of authority. Some of our prisoners are incarcerated because they were unable to contain this rage any longer. The men we met in Wacol Prison were just like us, intelligent, driven, searching for answers.
A prisoner who alleges abuse by George Pell faced the prospect of his medical records coming under scrutiny. Luckily, the magistrate decided that “even” prisoners are entitled to privacy. I faced something similar. Decades after a malicious and mischievous ‘referral’ to a psychiatrist made by someone in a position of authority in my life, his employers seized on this fact and couldn’t wait to find out if I was crazy. Furthermore, ‘aspersions’ were cast on claims made by my husband regarding St George’s Orphanage, in a way that I believe was intended to discredit me as well as my husband.
If saying a victim is crazy, and therefore an unreliable complainant, has worked in the past for powerful figures accused of crimes against children, it is less likely to work now that more light is being shone on the issues. Child abuse causes mental injury. Professor Beverley Raphael, in her report about Lewis Blayse, made certain to emphasize that he was not born mentally disabled. She clearly stated that he was mentally injured by the abuse in the Homes. That’s different from being mentally ill. Abusers can no longer get away with pointing the finger of blame at victims and accusing them of being crazy.