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There has been controversy (as illustrated by some sample articles) over several child abuse cases in institutions established in Queensland by the Anglican church and the way in which these were managed by the Brisbane Diocese Office at the time when Peter Hollingworth, who subsequently became Australia's Governor General, was Archbishop of Brisbane.
Some speculations about this matter are presented below.
Brisbane's Anglican Archbishop commissioned an inquiry but unfortunately its terms of reference were too narrow to seriously address the problem of child sex abuse or to take account of the effect of general dysfunctions in the Anglican Church.
Moreover the Queensland and Federal governments failed to establish a broader inquiry as the Archbishop had requested - and there are plausible (though unproven) grounds for suspecting that the involvement in child sexual abuse of some officials might constrain the latter's willingness to allow the broader issue to be investigated.
The Anglican Church's inquiry generated a 'witch-hunt' that led to risks to Australia's system of government related to politicizing the Governor General's role - as either an ally or opponent of democratically elected governments.
In 2012 the resistance of governments to confronting the reported widespread incidence of child sexual abuse in the general community again became apparent (see Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up?)
CPDS Comments on the Background to Sexual Abuse
The Problem of Sexual Abuse
There is nothing new about child sex abuse, or about political commitments to address it . And the problem appears to be widespread, serious, poorly understood and perhaps ultimately to reflect a lack of individual morality.
The present writer has no way to personally assess the validity of claims about the extent of sexual abuse. However a contact who is a former police officer heavily involved in investigation of child sexual abuse was asked if he thought claims like those outlined above were credible. His reply was 'Yes, though they are probably an underestimate'. And another contact who was involved in providing confidential support to distressed individuals noted that: (a) sexual abuse quite often seemed to be a factor in their histories; and (b) in all of the cases that that contact had been exposed to sexual abuse had occurred in a community, rather than an institutional, setting.
There has been increased recognition that sexual abuse as children has adverse effects on affected individuals later in life eg leading to severe psychological problems. It has been suggested, for example, that
There has also been increased recognition of a conspiracy of silence by adults about this problem (see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally)
Is This a Problem with Morality?
In seeking an explanation of family breakdown and sexual abuse it is noted that, for decades, many opinion leaders have increasingly advocated the view that social mores are a matter of individual preference. And there are many political and philosophical reasons that they have taken this approach.
However an unexpected and unwanted result of 'eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil' [apologies to Genesis 2-3] could be that one of the core factors that has allowed Australia's social, legal, governing and economic institutions to be effective has been eroding (namely a deeply ingrained idea that interpersonal relationships ought to be based on individual self-denial and putting-others-first).
In recent decades in Australia, as social mores have been advocated with a prime focus on self-fulfillment (which means whatever one wants it to mean) rather than on self-denial, the result appears to have been seriously dysfunctional
Even the illegal extremes such as pedophilia (where permissiveness has been carried further than the advocates of self-determined morality have intended) may need to be considered to be a consequence of self-determined morality. Why this may be so can be seen from the apparent success of new policing concepts that involve strict attention to misdemeanours, and that appear (in the US) to have been able to reduce the incidence of serious crime.
It has been credibly suggested that: (a) the most common reason for boys perceiving themselves to be homosexual is that they have been abused; (b) sexually abusive behaviour tends to be self perpetuating because earlier victims later become predators; (c) public acceptance of homosexual behaviour increases the damage done to those who are abused; and (d) a relatively high percentage of abusers accumulate in religious organisations because predators seek victims who are the most devoted, and thus least willing to cause problems for the institution by complaining and the most likely to seek careers in the institution.
If this is the case the shift towards regarding morality as merely a matter of opinion is critically important because the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour ensures that it is hard for individuals to 'nip in the bud' their own potential for abusive behaviour at the stage that they see it as only a misdemeanour - and their inability to do so before their problem passes the bounds of legality eventually creates a dangerous environment for many others.
Perhaps when a level of 'mischief' is ignored it will always be reflected in practice by a normal distribution, which will include extremes that go beyond any desired boundary. The closer the permitted behaviour comes to the desired boundary, the more the extremes will spill over it - and feedbacks may cause the problem to amplify over time.
In 2015 it was argued that exposure to domestic violence is the no 1 predictor that boys will become sexual abusers, while for girls abusers were often subjected to many trauma. Though sexual abuse often preceded children becoming abusers, this was not the dominant precursor. There is no certainty about a causal link - though it seems that sexual behaviour can be used to mediate the traumatic effects of violence. Studies of children with problematic sexual behavior indicate that 2/3 of boys had some form of harm in their background - while almost all girls affected had multiple causes of childhood trauma .
External Control of Interpersonal Relationships is a Dysfunctional Solution
If the core of the problem is a community view that morality is merely a matter of personal opinion (eg related to acceptance of family breakdown and homosexual behaviour) and if the problem is widespread in families, then it would be unjust to treat problems arising from sexual abuses by staff in various institutions as something that the management of those institutions should be held liable for controlling.
Furthermore, it is undesirable to respond to the problem by imposing external controls of interpersonal relationships through the legal system, government or organizational management because:
It can be noted that many limitations were seen in attempts to discourage sexual abuse by fathers through marketing campaigns such as 'Father of the Bride' (by Adult Survivors of Child Abuse) 
Moreover if the courts or the state become involved in attempts to control interpersonal relationships then the individual freedom that conferred huge political and economic advantages on Western societies would be lost.
Thus there is little value in suggested alternatives such as:
Educational alternatives have also been suggested such as: TV ads to encourage men who are sexually attracted to children to seek help - as tried in NSW in the 1980s; or schools could have total-safety child protection programs in the health curriculum - as in NZ.
The importance of preventative strategies has also been suggested (eg by inhibiting the development of abusing tendencies or the emergence of situations in which abuse could occur) . This appeared to imply that preventing the breakdown in family relationships could be the best way of reducing the incidence of child sexual abuse.
Another observer argued that the most important requirement was a change in attitude - but then strangely stated that, even though noting that most cases occur in families, it was in church institutions that a change of attitude was most needed 
Attacking the Core of the Problem
Any inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australian society and its institutions needs its main focus to be on changes in ingrained attitudes on matters of individual behaviour - and this is a matter needs to be addressed by leaders in non-state entities such as churches (though not through their 'institutions').
The way in which public attention has been focused on cases of sex abuse in church institutions seems often to be inappropriate and counterproductive because:
If problems in this area are not resolved without state intervention then the very foundations of Australia's society and institutions could be at risk (see Australia's Governance Crisis).
It may be, in fact, that the tide of public opinion is already on the point of turning against permissive extremes. For example a media report concerning the (so called) 'Millennial' generation suggests that those under 18 (who can be seen as the 'victims' of dysfunctional social arrangements in the baby boomer generation) appear to be intent on 'rebelling' by rebuilding society .
Factors Affecting Anglican Institutions in Queensland
Finally, in relation to the situation in Anglican institutions in Queensland, the public debate and hints from contacts who seemed informed about the internal situation, suggest that many other factors have contributed to the difficulties Dr Hollingworth faced.
April 2002 - and subsequently modified
|Anglican Church Inquiry||
About the Anglican Church's Inquiry
An unfortunate mission
The O'Calligan / Briggs inquiry  commissioned by the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane has obscured, rather than shedding light on, the problem of child sex abuse.
This has virtually nothing to do with the real problem as, according to publicly available sources, sex abuse affects a very significant minority of children and is primarily perpetrated in within family groups by 'father figures' (ie step fathers and defactos  rather than biological fathers).
In other words, child sex abuse seems to be largely a product of a widespread failure of individual morality, and of the breakdown over the past few decades of stable family relationships in particular.
Thus, to be serious about investigating / eliminating child sexual abuse, an inquiry would need to address the breakdown of morality and of stable family relationships that are the likely cause of the problem.
This might require a re-examination of the spiritual foundations of community morality - as it seems neither practical nor desirable to expect governments, courts or organizational managements to have to solve problems of individual morality (see above).
The O'Calligan / Briggs inquiry could not contribute to identifying or removing the moral failures at the root of the (apparently) widespread incidence of child sex abuse, because its terms of reference were confined to narrow administrative questions. It could never be more than a 'whitewash' of the cover-up of this scandalous problem by secular and church authorities as well as by the media.
Even the Anglican church would have difficulty in undertaking any inquiry into the real problem of child sexual abuse as this would be likely to expose a dispute that could split the church - between evangelicals who endorse scriptural views of morality, and the hierarchically dominant liberals who take a post-modern view that morality is a matter of opinion.
And unfortunate outcomes
In practice the outcome of the inquiry was that:
The inquiry appears to have other unfortunate aspects.
First, there were significant limitations on achieving even the inquiry's narrow goals of investigating how the Brisbane Diocesan office had previously dealt with sex abuse cases in Church institutions.
Second, there appeared to be theological and political disputes within the Anglican church which made it unsafe to rely on an internal inquiry into the handling of child sex abuse cases.
Furthermore there was a remarkable lack of independence in establishing the terms of reference for the Anglican Church inquiry. The inquiry was devised in the same office as had been accused of mismanaging child sex abuse cases - the only obvious difference being that a new Archbishop was involved. And those terms of reference seemed to focus on the role of the former Archbishop and ignore the (reportedly quite significant) role of the office itself in providing advice and support to both.
Moreover the inquiry did not appear to consider the dysfunctions in institutions created by the Anglican Church that were the context to the administrative failures it was considering. Under the circumstances, it is perhaps a minor miracle that the inquiry could identify only a few instances of poor judgment and memory lapses. An inquiry which considered those dysfunctions might well have reached different conclusions about Dr Hollingworth's individual performance.
Third, the individual targeted as a scapegoat for those problems became Australia's Governor General. Thus the inquiry had constitutional implications by exposing the holder of that office to political attack.
Fourth, the release of internal Church documents by the Queensland Parliament compromised the separation of church and state .
This is significant because:
Finally, legal defects with the inquiry reportedly included the fact that evidence was relied upon from witnesses who could not be subjected to cross-examination. Furthermore one of the authors of the report soon joined the public calls for Hollingworth's resignation 
Articles about Child Sex Abuse (in reverse date order)
Professor Briggs who co-wrote report that forced Peter Hollingworth to quit as Governor General has denounced new Anglican Church guidelines for dealing with sex-abuse cases - because they might discourage abuse victims from coming forward - because they are complex and do not emphasize child abuse. They are more concerned with church organization - with who should do what in terms of investigations (Walker J. 'Church sex-abuse criteria attacked', CM, 22/5/04)
There is debate about Catholic Church's Seal of the Confessional which prevents priests from revealing anything learned in confession - which has resulted in no action being taken to prevent ongoing child sexual abuse. There is also no obligation on citizens to give police information which they have about crime (Fynes-Clinton J., 'Suffering from silence', CM, 15/1/04).
Protest rallies and legal actions are proposed to press for a royal commission into child abuse. A child-abuse summit organized by Bravehearts brought together groups demanding action to deal with national crisis. This follows revelations that up to 50 foster children may have been abused. Aboriginal academic Boni Robertson, Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett and Liz Cunningham support the calls. Brisbane law firm, Qinn and Scattini, represents a flood of victims. Lawyer Simon Harrison expects a group civil action alleging systemic failure with the Queensland Government. Professor Robertson, head of inquiry against aboriginal women, said that extent of child abuse crisis was becoming apparent. She supported royal commission to expose those in positions of authority who were turning a blind eye. Braveharts sees problem as not with foster families but with government which failed to do its duty and protect children. Street marches comparable with the Sorry Campaign are wanted (Madigan M 'Child-abuse campaign intensifies', CM, 4/7/03)
Anglican church has treated children as objects rather than as human beings - and this attitude sowed seeds of sexual abuse according to Anglican Archbishop Aspinall. This view gives children secondary or no status, and is deeply flawed. Under Aspinall six clergy licenses have been revoked, 5 investigations are pending, 40 abuse complaints have been reported to police and 21 claims have been settled. Complaints are still coming in but at a much reduced rate, because the message is getting through ('Aspinall: Kids not objects', SM, 29/6/03)
Ross Fitzgerald is right to call for a national coordinated approach to child protection - rather than a costly royal commission. There is no shortage of evidence of the effect of child sexual abuse, and expertise to identify earlier and better responses. Capacity to respond is restricted by cumbersome federal-state arrangements - which fragment approaches. A national summit, if well organized and attended by organizations with the commitment and capacity to improve both management and prevention could help. It could make governments work more effectively together - and with others. It could improve responses to notified abuses. It could also address prevention of abuse - which is more challenging but not impossible. It would be supported by the teachers, nurses, doctors, police, lawyers and others who see abuse and neglect daily. It would be a defining national moment - involving something all can agree on - that children need the best. A national approach is needed to turn the rhetoric into action (Stanley F. 'Facing up to child abuse', A, letter to editor 9/6/03)
Hollingworth's resignation as G-G should be the start, not the end, of concerted government and community action to deal with problem of sexual abuse of children. Many groups are calling for Royal Commission. But while such commissions have their uses (inquisitorial in nature they are not constrained by same evidence rules as criminal judicial proceedings, can uncover past misdeeds). But they depend on government will to carry forward, and cost a lot of money. Trevor Jordan (senior lecturer in applied ethics at QUT) believes a national summit is the best way forward. There is a need for a national approach, and for improved procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse. There has been a great deal of information about how to deal with abuse in organisations gathered over past 10 years. Unfortunately political, religious and sporting leaders seem to be unteachable. They now need to. All instances of abuse allegations should be dealt with by independent multi-disciplinary teams. Jordon (Chairman of Esther trust which advocates on behalf of victims) argues that Hollingworth saga illustrates conflict of interest involved in CEOs attempting to deal with allegations). CEOs need to be out of the picture as they put interests of organizations first. Independent committees within organizations would investigate a complaint of sexual misconduct - and pass sex offences to police. Other forms of misconduct would be dealt with by counseling, mediation, conciliation, restitution or apology. A national summit could also address adequacy of victim support and advocacy. Organizations with procedures for dealing with complaints do not publicize them as doing so increase incidence of complaints. It is difficult to deal with abuses in the distant past. A national summit would share accumulated experience - and result in national standards for dealing with allegations. Organizations could use each other's expertise to investigate complaints. There needs to be training in how to deal with the issue. Sex abuse is a complex issue - but a national summit of government, church, sport and community organizations would be more helpful in dealing with sex abuse than a royal commission (Fitzgerald R., 'G-G row must now trigger child summit', A, 5/6/03)
In Queensland police, a former Children's Commissioner and government officials were repeatedly told of abuse inside a foster family. Victims may take action against the state government. The proposed audit of foster families would be a band aid solution. Victims do not trust the police, the Families Department or the government system. A Royal Commission is needed (Madigan M 'Authorities knew of abuse, says aunt', CM, 21/6/03)
If every instance of abuse was reported and investigated, there would still be a future problem - because there are many who have yet to offend for first time. None of proposed programs would intervene before abuse occurs. However there are crime prevention strategies that are similar to health risk prevention. This includes (a) developmental crime prevention - which aims to reduce development of criminal potential and (b) situational crime prevention which reduces situations in which crime can occur. How can this apply to sex abuser? Sexual offenders experience similar developmental risks to those linked to general delinquency and crime - marital conflict, harsh and erratic punishment and low levels of parental involvement. Sex offenders have particular problems in relationship with their fathers. Thus improving relationships between fathers and children could reduce sexual abuse. To reduce environmental risk is difficult. Most abuse occurs in homes. Griffith University researchers are considering how TV could be used to intervene with potential abusers. However abuse also occurs in institutional settings - where procedures could be devised to reduce situational opportunities. Sex abuse can be a disaster for children - but resources should not only be mobilized after abuse has occurred (Smallbone S., 'Stop abuse before its starts', CM, 29/5/03)
The Prime Minister has ruled out an inquiry into child sexual abuse - as the issue that welfare agencies believe has been too ugly to confront gained national prominence. The PM labeled the practice abominable - and suggested that there was a need for more openness on the subject, rather than more inquiries because 'we know the problem'. The best way he saw to deal with the problem (which mainly arises in families) is early intervention programs targeting families at risk. Opposition proposals for a Children's Commissioner were seen as window dressing - but supported by National Association for prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Baptist Minister Tim Costello suggested that there was a profound problem related to child sex abuse which required attention to systemic problems in institutions and failure of leaders to address it. Bravehearts called for a Royal Commission (Rintoul S 'Howard rules out sex abuse inquiry', A, 27/5/03)
An inquiry into child sex abuse is not needed according to the PM - because the problem is known and the solution involves early intervention in families at risk (Rintol S 'Howard rules out sex abuse inquiry', A, 27/5/03)
Pressure for the establishment of a Royal Commission into child sex abuse has increased because of the resignation of the G-G. This is needed because the issue is now the top national priority - according the Bravehearts. Federal Opposition proposed a National Commissioner for Children. Opposition leader said that resignation showed that child sex abuse issue must never be covered up. Democrat leader Andrew Bartlett said resignation sent the right message in terms of the community's attitude to child sex abuse. This is a nationwide problem that involves more than one man. (Jones C 'pressure mounting for abuse royal commission', CM, 26/5/03)
Experts doubt that the Hollingworth case will catalyze change in tackling the sexual abuse of children. There is nothing new about children being sexually abused - according to Dorothy Scott and Shurlee Swain in Confronting Cruelty - which dealt with the evolution of child protection over the past 100 years. The ALP promised a crusade against child abuse with a Better Future for Our Kids bill, and creation of a Commissioner for Children. Social workers wondered whether the Hollingworth case would lead to lasting national interest. Royal Australian College of Psychiatrists (President Philip Boyce) support a national summit - because this could look towards the future rather than the past which would be the focus of a royal commission. While states have to find more money, most important is a change of attitude - especially in churches though most cases occur in families. According to Swain People in power empathize with people like themselves - and protect institutions. Churches believe their own propaganda and argue that there are just a few bad eggs rather than a structural problem. They are also governed by legal advice rather than by what is right morally. Monash University social work lecturer Lesley Hewett believes that what happened to Hollingworth will make people in authority take more care in responding to children's claims. It is significant that the Anglican church in Brisbane did initiate an inquiry. Social work consultant Jan Carter argues that there is a need for political will as well as institutional will for attitudes to change. Victoria's Premier called for the resignation of G-G while his government was failing to protect child abuse victims. The national debate about sex abuse has not helped one child - because there are still not enough services. There is no connection between the scrutiny given to sexual assault - and what government will spend on services. Much more is needed than mandatory reporting - though governments feel they have achieved something with this. Allowing the abused to speak at the time would be more useful. Hewett is optimistic that the Hollingworth affair marks an evolution in community attitudes. The outcry about the G-G's implication that a girl was responsible for initiating a sexual relationship showed a change in community understanding. The community needs to address a lot of educational issues (power imbalances, gender and sexual relationships) to move forward. Perhaps the churches will be shamed into taking the lead - as in Canada. (Yallop R 'Too hard to cope with', A, 27/5/03)
Brisbane's Anglican Archbishop Aspinall defended his handling of abuse cases in an alleged pedophile ring - but acknowledged that legal constraints prevented him from acting as sympathetically as he would have liked (Wilson A., 'Aspinall explains silence on abuse', A, 23/5/03)
Brisbane's Anglican Archbishop is to convene a summit to consider fallout from controversy surrounding handling of sex abuse cases (Wilson A 'Clergy to address sex report fallout', A, 20/5/03)
Premier Beattie questioned the conduct of Peter Hollingworth in five cases detailed in Anglican church report. All five cases he said raised questions about how the accused and complainants were treated, the lack of disciplinary action and Hollingsworth's recollection of events. Premier said that he had tackled pedophilia head on in D'Arcy case. Others suggested that Beattie's contribution included setting up Forde inquiry whose recommendations were not followed up - and which seemed like a con job (Odgers R and Helen M 'Beattie steps up the pressure', CM, 14/5/03)
There are repeated reports about sexual abuse of children in schools, parishes and other institutions. Most of the reports concern people in Christian church. Repeated calls for a royal commission are met with PMs assurance that this is not necessary. Broken Rites is a support group for victims of sexual abuse by clergy. Issues that might come before a royal commission would be (a) personal accounts of criminal sexual abuse, criminal assault and sustained psychological abuse. There are distinct groups. There are groups of aboriginals, of former child migrants. There are 30-50,000 Australian born non-aboriginal children. Many were orphans. A commission would find that many of these had poor literacy skills and have lived on the margins of society. The Commission would identify a period in recent history when child exploitation was prevalent. It would identify repeated failure by church authorities and government bureaucracies to take responsive and responsible action. There would be testimony from advocacy groups about the 'lottery' nature of current church run processes - intimidation of some victims, a tendency by lawyers to refuse to consider victims needs. There would be accounts of attempted civil litigation - but these are strenuously resisted to defend church estate. A Parish in Ballaratt has been devastated by a paedophile ring. Advocacy groups believe that victims number in the thousands. There is a need for reliable data - and for information about victims later entering criminal system. A royal commission would be able to find out what has really been going on. (Chamley W 'Exposing a shameful past', CM, 13/5/03)
Conducting a national inquiry into paedophilia (which Premier Beattie has called for) is impractical - as most of the laws and institutions involved are state responsibility ('Pedophilia inquiry impractical', CM, editorial, 12/5/03)
There were many professional delegates to the national child sex abuse conference - yet 3 mothers' stories had the most impact - who spoke of the systemic failure to protect their children (ie of failure by legal and welfare agencies established to help children). They spoke of bureaucratic court processes that lacked humanity and understanding, and a gap between federal and state governments. Courts are seen to be perpetuating abuse with the psychological abuse of the adversarial legal system. The justice system can not deal with child abuse cases. Fred Briggs believes there is a need for a national inquiry and system for dealing with child sex abuse cases. SA's Victim's support groups believes that children can not give evidence that will be believed in court. Defense lawyers intimidate children with legalistic language of linguistic devices. A system must be found that matches children's needs. Features suggested for special courts might include: judges and prosecutors trained to deal with children; intermediaries to interpret children's questions for children; use of closed-circuit TV for childrens evidence (Plane T., 'Abused and betrayed', A, 5/5/03)
Brisbane's Anglican church conducted an inquiry into past complaints about the handling of sexual abuse complaints - after requests for a royal commission were rejected. The report paints a mixed picture. It includes criticisms of the church that have been tackled. It can not be interpreted as just criticism of Peter Hollingworth as his performance was at time justified, and others were criticized. Child protection will be a matter of ongoing concern - and difficulties remain. Ultimately the problem is human failure. pedophiles are dangerous not only because of what they do but because they are expert at concealing this - and allegations seem unbelievable. Thus national protocols, screening measures and child protection are needed - which is not possible so long as state procedures are different. And the community must recognize that more than 90% of child abuse occurs in family situations rather than in institutions (Aspinall P., 'Inquiry can help curb child abuse', A, 5/5/03)
The report on child abuse in Anglican Church in Brisbane has only touched the tip of the iceberg according to one of its authors (Professor Freda Briggs). There is a need for a national inquiry into child sex abuse and the way courts deal with children - as the court system is perpetuating abuse. She has called on Prime Minister to establish a national inquiry - but his office has denied there is a problem. Annie Cossins, Chair of National Child Sexual Abuse Reform Committee will call for special child sex offence courts in all states (Plane T 'Just tip of the iceberg', A, 3-4/5/03)
Allegations in relation to sexual abuse in Brisbane church institutions pale into insignificance in relation to allegations elsewhere. 'Sex power and the clergy' (by Muriel Porter) presents an insider view of sexual abuse by members of the clergy - in a wider context (ie looking at implications of enforced celibacy). Porter argues that 75% of journalists practice no religion - and are thus not well positioned to comment on organized religion. (Cotes A., 'Confessions from the inside', CM, 26/4/03)
The Prime Minister indicated that a royal commission into child sex abuse could be undertaken if this would significantly benefit victims. A royal commission would benefit those alleging sex abuse and inappropriate action by the Anglican Church in Brisbane. It would also benefit other institutions that face similar problems. One in four girls in Australia, and one in eight boys, are abused. A royal commission is needed because the laws of the land do not allow private investigations enough power. Professor Freda Briggs (University of South Australia) recently called for a national royal commission - because (a) the criminal justice system is an inappropriate way to deal with child sex abuse cases - and can add to the abuse of children seen as likely to be poor witnesses and (b) there is significant disparity between states in the need to report sex abuse cases - where clergy are exempt in Queensland but not elsewhere (c) support and offender-treatment programs are virtually non-existent. A royal commission could identify past errors and suggest best practices for protecting the vulnerable from future harm and dealing decisively with future abuse. If a royal commission is not held, a church investigation will proceed. (Aspinall P., 'Redress torrent of abuse', Australian, 22/4/02)
There is concern in the catholic Church about falling attendances, and sex abuse scandals. The latter is a world wide problem - which has seen many resignations. Sexual mis-behaviour is not a simple problem. Effective disclosure of criminal behaviour, proper treatment of victims, screening and advising of candidates for the ministry, prevention strategies in ministries are all needed. But at a deeper level the problem is not in the adequacy of structures and the integrity of ministers. Rather it is in theology - which has to do with power and a perception that ministers are free of the constraints of lesser mortals. The relationship between service and power as long proved difficult for the church - and attempts to find solutions were central to the work of the Second Vatican Council (Bathersby J. (Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane) 'Service or power', Courier Mail, 22/4/02)
Some SE Queensland Anglican schools may need to be closed because of the damages payouts connected with child sex abuse cases (Smith W. 'Sex attack compo may shut schools', Courier Mail, 20/4/02)
A Canadian Anglican diocese was forced to close last year because sexual abuse claims against it exceeded its assets (Smith W. 'Prophet of loss', Courier Mail, 20/4/02)
The Pope has arranged a meeting with all US cardinals because of child sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church in America (Maher S. 'Cardinal sins spark backlash', Courier Mail, 20/4/02)
The refusal of both state and federal governments to countenance a royal commission into suspected child abuse in the Anglican Church needs further consideration. Such an inquiry would indicate that the authorities responsible for child protection were taking a serious pro-active approach. It is not enough to say that there are already enquiries underway, or have been enquiries . Institutions should have learned about the need to deal openly with these issues. The Abused Child trust has been seeking a national approach to child protection for some time as essential to prevention (Reynolds A. 'It won't go away', Courier Mail, 18/4/02)
There has been some support for a Senate inquiry into child abuse claims (Griffith C. 'Church faces Senate rebuff', Courier Mail, 18/4/02)
The victims of sexual abuse in the Anglican Church deserve more than they are getting from governments - who are avoiding difficult issues. Dr Aspinall has been unable to establish an inquiry without government help. The PM does not seem to find the issue to be important enough. The repeated failure of church administrations to protect children in their care requires effort to restore a bond of trust. Queensland's Premier's refusal to establish such an inquiry - because the Forde Inquiry had already examined the matter - is not good enough, as the circumstances were different ('Frayed bond of trust needs leadership', Courier Mail, editorial, 18/4/02)
Premier Beattie was accused of refusing to meet victims of child abuse in state and church run institutions (Odgers R. 'Victims angry at Beattie', Courier Mail, 17/4/02)
The Pope has called US cardinals to the Vatican to discuss sex scandals affecting up to 3000 priests ('Pope calls abuse talks', Courier Mail, 17/4/02)
The promised Anglican church inquiry into sex abuse allegations will be ineffectual due to a lack of legal authority (Balogh S. et al ‘Sex inquiry will fail archbishop admits’, Australian, 17/4/02)
The Prime minister has refused a request by Brisbane's Anglican Archbishop (Aspinall) for a royal commission into child sexual abuse - which arose from problems in arranging an internal inquiry (Griffith C. 'Bishop powerless as PM rejects inquiry', Courier Mail, 17/4/02)
Minders of Brisbane’s Archbishop Aspinall are claimed to have blocked his attendance at a national rally against child abuse (Taylor C ‘Church ignore rally for children’, Sunday Mail, 14/4/02)
The Governor General is refusing to acknowledge that the way that he handled child abuse allegations damages his current role. More importantly this is muddying the water around the sensitive issue of childhood sexual abuse - which US research now shows to change the form and structure of the brain. It is vital to ensure that child sex abuse does not happen in the first place. Thus such abuse can not be tolerated. The rights of children must prevail. If Hollingworth stays as Governor General he will be dragged into inquiries - which will send a mixed message about Australia (Soorley J. 'Clear message on child abuse', Courier Mail, 9/3/02)
Brisbane's new Anglican Archbishop Aspinall announced an internal inquiry into the Brisbane diocese's past handling of child sex-abuse allegations - and also has to cope with its poor financial position (Scott L. 'A bright light to reignite the torch of faith', Australian, 5/3/02)
The Prime Minister will hold a royal commission into child sexual abuse - if he is convinced that it would help the victims (Shanahan D. and Henderson I. 'PM warms to child sex abuse inquiry', Australian, 4/3/02)
The Prime Minister should call a Royal Commission into the sexual abuse of children in Australia – a systematic review not a witch hunt directed against specific individuals. The furore surrounding the actions of the now Governor General in dealing with child sex abuse provides the basis for such an inquiry. It would also provide an honourable path for the Governor General to resign. (Shanahan D., ‘Now for a real inquiry’, Australian, 1/3/02)
The debate about child sex abuse in relation to the actions of the Governor General while Archbishop of Brisbane is helpful in raising awareness of the problem. But that problem is not being solved. The entire community needs to think about how it deals with this issue. Queensland spends less than 50% of other states on child protection. And despite the Forde inquiry recommendations funding was not increased – with an estimated $170m under-funding. Only doctors are required to report suspected abuses. And the legal system fails to deal with abuses adequately. Everyone is ultimately the victim of child abuse because victims can experience a lifetime of trauma and themselves commit crimes against society (eg theft, vandalism, child abuse, drug abuse, suicide) (Wood David, Chairman Abused Child Trust, ‘Refocus on the children’, Courier Mail, 25/2/02)
Rather than face up to the fact that a pedophile had been in a position of trust with access to hundreds of school-children for years, St Paul's School, eulogized the master after his suicide (Thomas H. 'God save the Queen's man', Courier Mail, 23/2/02)
A Chaplain at Brisbane's Anglican Church Grammar School was sacked as a result of allegations about sexual abuse of a teenager (Targett T and Doneman P. 'Churchie dismisses school chaplain', Courier Mail, 21/2/02)
St Paul's Anglican School hushed up a scandal involving sexual abuse by a teacher who later committed suicide (and paid a secret cash settlement) with the knowledge of the Archbishop Hollingworth (Thomas H. 'Father of victim stands by hush money' claim', Courier Mail, 21/2/02)
The license of an Anglican Bishop was revoked because accusations of sexual misconduct (Reid 'Bishop was sacked because of shame', Courier Mail, 21/2/02)
The allegations against Peter Hollingworth relate to incidents of sexual abuse - without there being any suggestion that he himself was guilty of this. The overwhelming majority of child sexual abuse incidents take place in families rather than in institutions. Surely this be the major concern. As Governor General there is almost no opportunity to effectively respond to allegations - which are about very old matters that should have been raised while he was still Archbishop of Brisbane (Paul J. 'Accused with no right of reply', Australian, 19/2/02)
On TV the Governor general painted himself as the real victim of the sex abuse scandal - and as being the victim of conspiracy. But there is no hidden agenda. The fact is that the Toowoomba Preparatory School (with Archbishop Hollingworth's knowledge) covered up the sexual behaviour of a teacher. This resulted in a large court judgment - and there are 26 other cases working their way through the system. (Aitkens D. 'Victim mentality', Courier Mail, 19/2/02)
Articles focusing on Peter Hollingworth's Role
Queensland's premier has labeled allegations that he did not respond to warnings that a former ALP MP was a pedophile as a smear campaign (Wilson A and Nason D 'Smears a sad day in politics: Beattie', A, 30/5/03)
Yarallumba has been home to the greatest moral coward of recent times. At no point did Hollingworth admit that protecting a pedophile priest was wrong - except with a minor qualification. All that was given was a homily about his intentions as G-G. In fact he has done very little as G-G. He was not even up to the job of being Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane (Charlton P., 'Homily from garage ends dud appointment', CM, 29/5/03)
Peter Hollingworth bowed out of pubic life with expression of profound regret for his failure to deal properly with allegations of child sexual abuse. He apologized for his decision not to sack a pedophile priest - 'though acting in good faith he regretted the way the matter was handled'. He also apologized for comments on ABC radio about under-age girl starting a relationship with an adult - as these did not come out as intended. He criticized those who urged him to resign to prevent damage to the office of G-G because the office was not protected by bowing to popularly generated controversy. Damage can be done to an office by removing people from it without good reason. (Cole M., 'Hollingworth: I got it wrong', CM, 29/5/03)
A contrite Peter Hollingworth admitted that he had got it wrong (while acting in good faith) in relation to a decision to cover up the actions of a pedophile priest which would not be the one he would make now. He is considering a legal challenge to the Anglican church inquiry - and suggested that there was nothing in his past that should cause a problem for others or himself. As part of the national apology, Dr Hollingworth stated that he would return to work in the welfare field. (Lewis S. 'In the end, the G-G agrees he was wrong', A, 29/5/03)
All kinds of abuse, and particularly the sexual abuse of children, is abhorrent. As Archbishop of Brisbane I dealt with many pastoral matters, and in 1993 I was confronted with an allegation of abuse that had occurred many years earlier. I supported the Anglican church's inquiry into these issues - and in all cases except this one (in which it was highly critical) the report exonerated me. Though acting in good faith, I accept that the decision was not the one I would have made today - and regret the way that the matter was handled and apologize to those who suffered as a consequence. I also regret the impression given in an ABC interview that I blamed the victim for abuse. Many have sought my resignation - but the office is not protected from damage by bowing to popular pressure. I hope my resignation demonstrates both the importance of the position and the need to place a high priority on children's welfare. I have no doubt about the seriousness of child abuse and my error of judgment. Society needs to place most emphasis on care and protection of children in families where most abuse occurs. The hard fact is that, though acting in good faith, in at least one incident I got it wrong (Hollingworth P., 'I acted in good faith, I got it wrong', A, 29/5/03)
Peter Hollingworth apologized for his mistakes in handling child sexual abuse allegations. This statement was overshadowed by political furor after coalition MPs in Queensland made allegations about sex-abuse cases involving Labor figures. Queensland's Premier claimed that he was the subject of a smear campaign orchestrated at highest level. Beattie was accused of not having acted quickly enough in relation to Darcy, while NSW allegations involved sexual abuse by a senior Minster (Davis M and Strutt S, 'Smear campaign as G-G bows out', FR, 29/5/03)
Opposition leader Simon Crean failed to gain the high moral ground from Hollingworth affair even though appointing him has been the PM's mistake. This was the first forced resignation of a G-G beset with scandal. It was necessary to dissect the significance of the issue and expose the farce it had become. Crean should have dwelled on his own consistent position - demanding in February 2002 that Hollingworth be stood aside when allegations first emerged that he had turned a blind eye to child sex abuse. (Walker T., 'Crean loses his way by taking the low road', FR, 27/5/03)
PM defended outgoing G-G, and ruled out changes to the appointment process. He said G-G had paid a high price for his error of judgment. The ALP attacked the PM for not sacking the G-G - saying that he was guilty of moral turpitude and that the victims had paid a higher price than the G-G (Davis M and Tingle L 'Howard under fire over plan for new G-G', FR, 27/5/03)
".. I believe that allegations made in relation to my behaviour as governor general are unfair, unwarranted and without foundation, it is clear that continued public controversy has the potential to undermine and diminish my capacity to uphold the importance, dignity and integrity of this high office" (text of G-G's letter of resignation, A, 27/5/03)
The GG announced his intention to resign because, despite the misplaced and unwarranted allegations made against him, the controversy made it impossible to carry out the job (Davis M 'G-G quits over church cover-up' FR, 26/5/03)
Civil Libertarian lawyer Terry O'Gorman said that Hollingworth was the victim of a witch hunt - involving baseless and unwarranted allegations. The Anglican church inquiry has not been properly reported and was seriously flawed because witnesses could not be cross examined. Then the joint author of the report joined the fray within days calling on the G-G to resign ('Victim of a witch-hunt says author', CM, 26/5/03)
Various officials in the Brisbane Diocese support Peter Hollingworth's decision to resign (Griffith C 'Church officials support decision', CM, 26/5/03)
Hollingworth's resignation was a relief. It was the only decent thing to have done. Revelations in the courts, in the press, through an Anglican church inquiry painted a picture of a man corrupted by the high office of archbishop. He protected pedophile priests, placed the interests of the church before caring for the victims of abuse. His failings infected the office of G-G - and cast a lasting stain ion the vice-regal system (Atkins D., 'Decision avoids a crisis', CM, 26/5/03)
In 1898 Emile Zola published a famous open letter 'J'accuse' in relation to false accusations against Alfred Dreyfus that he had betrayed French military secrets to Germany. Dreyfus was a persecuted victim of trumped up charges - under which lay a deep vein of anti-Semitism. In relation to the Hollingworth situation Zola might have accused: (a) the Australian people of being prepared to break every moral taboo except in one area related to the innocence of youth - in the area of sexual abuse where they take a 2 faced approach by setting up protection arrangements in institutions but do nothing about homes where 96% of cases arise (b) child abuse and sex abuse movements of being more concerned for their fame than doing anything about the problem - and leading the media astray (c) the media of lazily feeding from one another - and setting up an unbalanced adversarial situation (d) some reporters of having private agendas (e) political leaders of using the situation to their own advantage - and ignoring allegations of sex abuse in their own ranks (f) some in the church of being concerned only with their own self-protection. Hollingworth was found in the opinion of those who wrote a private report to be guilty of making an untenable pastoral decision. The report was misused. It was said at the beginning of his term of office that he would never be allowed to complete it - any excuse would do. Hollingworth has never thought it necessary to protect himself. Others were envious of his appointment. Many are guilty of hatred in this matter with no good reasons. Finally there are some who are guilty of genuine ill-will. There are traces in this affair of a virulent militant secularism which denies the place of religion in public life (Morgan J 'J'accuse: G-G a victim of hate', A, 26/5/093)
Hollingworth's decision about resignation hinges on one case - in which an inquiry found that he had acted wrongly in relation to which senior counsel's opinion is that he was denied natural justice by the inquiry (Emerson S 'Resignation decision hinges on one case', A, 24-25/5/03)
Hollingworth had been the victim of a frenzied witch-hunt and should be left in peace - according to Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy (WA, 24-5/5//03)
Peter Hollingworth remains under intense political pressure to quit - with Labor and the minor parties intensifying demands that he step down over allegations of covering up child sexual abuse. Mr Crean suggested that the PM was giving comfort to those who fail to clamp down on child sex abuse. Greens leader blames the PM for allowing office of G-G to become so damaged. (Lewis S et al, 'Angry calls for head of state to roll', A, 24-25/5/03)
The Anglican Church inquiry formed by Hollingsworth's successor found that his action in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse was unfair, inappropriate and unreasonable - and that his position was thus untenable. But this is not the main problem. His actions as G-G justify his removal. He has lost the confidence of the Opposition. His defense of his position smacks of dissembling and grubby hard-ball politics. Statements provide carefully crafted illusions and misleading assumptions - and using old political trick of undermining the credibility of one's accuser. These slippery tricks of media releases do not look like naive churchman trying to be frank and sorry about past errors. On May 1 responded to reports findings that his position was untenable by admitting a serious error of judgment but pointing out that this had been made on the basis of psychiatric advice. Since then he supplied PM with legal advice that questioned Aspinall report. However these defenses do not stand scrutiny. In February he did not admit a major error of judgment - but merely that the wrong decision was made. And in a letter to Bulletin Hollingworth stated that his decision was contrary to psychiatric advice - and was based on potential damage to the church. The legal advice concerning inquiry was that it denied him natural justice. These are just some examples of how Hollingworth has used subtle public pronouncements from office to undermine his critics while adopting the attitude of naive innocence. Concessions have been forced from contradictions emerging while he has been G-G (Shanahan D 'Telling spin in crisis control', A, 23/5/03)
taxpayers will cover the cost of clearing up the mess surrounding the Governor General, Peter Hollingworth. But these rape allegations are a distraction from handling of child sex abuse cases in which an Anglican church inquiry found that that he acted inappropriately. But it is his behaviour as Governor General that requires his removal. He has lost the confidence of the Opposition and public faith. His defense of his position smacks of dissembling and grubby hard-ball politics. This looks like crisis-control for a tawdry politician. It involves subtle public pronouncements to undermine his critics (Shanahn D. 'Telling spin in crisis control', A, 23/5/03)
G-G has hit back at claims by Brisbane Archbishop Aspinall that he failed to pass on details of a child sexual abuse case. He had met with parents of abused youth and promised to pass on details to Aspinall - who denied receiving such information. Hollingworth then noted that reference had been made obliquely - because the matter was not direct responsibility of Archbishop (Griffith C 'G-G letter challenge to Aspinall', CM, 22/5/03)
Queensland premier accused PM of white-anting Anglican Church report and attempting to 'assassinate' its authors who criticised G-G's handling of child sex abuse. The PM had accused premier of waging a politically motivated campaign against Peter Hollingworth. Premier told parliament the report was independent and unbiased - in reference to legal advice that the report denied natural justice to Dr Hollingworth. The premier was not prepared to allow integrity of report to be undermined. The authors were very distinguished (Emerson S., 'PM white-anting report: Beattie', A, 16/5/03)
Australia's senate declared Dr Hollingworth to be unfit to hold the office of G-G and demanded his resignation or dismissal (Davis M., 'G-G loses on the voices', 16/5/03)
Government spokesmen have called into question both the selective use of the findings of the Anglican church inquiry - and whether it provided natural justice to the G-G (Davis M. and Strutt S. 'Coalition MPs defend G-G', FR, 15/5/03)
The Prime Minister has accused the Queensland Premier of conducting a politically motivated campaign against the Governor General - which the Premier suggested was intended to divert attention from the Governor General's conduct. Others alleged deep moral decay at the heart of the federal government for refusing to stand the Governor General aside. Queensland's public sector union noted that it was ironic to see the Premier taking a stand on child sex abuse when his government turned a blind eye to the problem every day - because staff lack the resources to deal properly with all the cases they confront (Emerson S, Toohey P and Karvelas P 'Howard, Beattie Brawl over G-G', CM, 15/5/03)
PM continued to attack the integrity of private church inquiry that condemned GG. GG faced Senate motion calling for his resignation. PM attacked the way inquiry dealt with GG - on the basis of a legal opinion that he was denied natural justice. He refused calls for royal commission saying it was more about political posturing than to better understand / deal with the problem (Cole M. 'Hoard turns his attack to church inquiry', CM, 14/5/03)
The PM refused to establish a Royal Commission into child sex abuse as the Senate made an unprecedented call for the G-G to be sacked - because of his actions as Archbishop of Brisbane. Queensland Premier suggested that there were more than the one instance involved that had been the subject of a conclusion by the Anglican church inquiry. The PM indicated that it would be better to spend royal commission cost on early intervention, and that he had been given legal opinion that G-G had been subject to abuse of natural justice (O'Loghlin T 'Howard says no to child abuse inquiry', FR, 14/5/03)
The Senate will censure Peter Hollingworth for failure to act against child sex abuse - increasing political pressure on him to resign. He has refused to release legal advice which is claimed to show that he was denied natural justice by Anglican church inquiry into sex abuse (Lewis S 'Senate move to censure the GG', A, 13/5/03)
Victims of child abuse were upset and offended by PM's little regard and recognition of the behaviour of the GG - according to founder of Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse (Liz Mullinar). Endless emails from ASCA members spoke of finally being recognised, but found that PM did not hold GG accountable for his actions. Victims see that again they do not matter. There is little regard of GG putting interests of perpetrator of child abuse ahead of victims. (Plane T et al 'Victims ignored again say activists', A, 13/5/03)
Peter Hollingworth is expected to resign as Governor General after standing aside to focus on clearing his name of rape allegations. The PM brokered a deal to avoid a constitutional crisis and limit the damage to his government. He denied that he had pressured Hollingworth to resign, or that the situation was a resignation - but he declined to express confidence in Dr Hollingworth (Lewis S 'G-G stands aside', A, 12/5/03)
Peter Hollingworth may be the victim of a witch hunt. Where is truth in the rumours surrounding him. There is no mention that he was found to have acted appropriately in the Toowoomba matter that let to the outcry. It is easy to fabricate allegations of abuse. Hollingworth earned a reputation for achieving much for the poor and deprived in Australia. In Brisbane he undertook reorganisation of vast and under-resourced diocese. All churches started struggling with sex abuse issues in 1990s - and Hollingworth was in the vanguard - in approaches which now seem soft but were not at the time. There is a need for people to re-examine the moral basis of their own lives (Morgan J 'Throw out moral chaos, not the G-G', A, 12/5/03)
Peter Hollingworth told the PM that his greatest concern was to protect the office - which points to resignation down the track (Kelly P. 'In other words a pledge to resign', A, 12/5/03)
Peter Hollingworth may be the victim of a witch hunt. Where is the truth? No one points out that the G-G was found to have acted properly in the case that started the outcry against him. A need for return to moral sanity is needed. It is easy to fabricate accusations - and hard to disprove them. Hollingworth did much for the poor and deprived in Australia. In Brisbane he took on re-organising a vast and under-resourced diocese. There is an hypocricy in the community about dealing with sexuality. Governments are now cleaning up their acts - but there has been a refusal to face up to the problem. All churches started tacking sex abuse problems in the early 1990s and Hollingworth's action were ahead of most. Recently information about the McCarthy anti-communist witch hunts in the 1950s destroyed reputations while doing nothing about subversion (Morgan J 'Throw out the moral chaos, not the G-G', A, 12/5/03)
There is a considerable weight of legal opinion that the Governor General, having lost public and government support should resign outright. Constitutional expert George Williams (University of NSW) says that Dr Hollingworth is entitled to presumption of innocence - but should go because he lacks popular and government support. He can not fulfill his constitutional functions if he has lost that support. Geoffrey Lindell (Adelaide University) suggested that Dr Hollingworth ought to go for the good of the office - but is seriously concerned about this resulting from a media campaign and public opinion polls. Cheryl Saunders (Director, Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies) suggested issues related to appointment were more political than constitutional. However there are issues coming out of Queensland inquiry that seem to be being put aside (Stapleton J 'Time to quit say top law brains', A, 12/5/03)
Peter Hollingsworth has contested a key point in the Anglican church inquiry which found that he allowed a pedophile to remain as a priest knowing that his behaviour had been continued, rather than being an isolated incident (Griffith C 'Renewed legal attack on damning report', CM, 12/5/03)
The Governor General should resign or be sacked because he has lost public support - as most are aghast at his failure to act against child sexual abuse (Bartlett A. - Democrats leader). Headlines scream that G-G should be sacked. But the basis for this is what is said about Anglican church inquiry; opinion polls showing that 3/4 of people feel his position is untenable. But this was based on slanted media coverage of the report. The media coverage has been one-sided and can be described as a witch hunt (O'Gorman T.) ('Hollingworth: time to end debate and take firm action', FR, 10-11/5/03)
Supporters refer to lynch mobs and campaigns that offend natural justice - but no one could pretend that allegations of benign neglect of sex abuse cases while Archbishop of Brisbane did not wreck his office and reputation (Walker T., 'Hollingworth nothing if not determined', FR, 9/5/03)
Rape allegations against Governor General should not be dismissed as a witch hunt according to Bravehearts. The Australian Council of Civil Liberties stated that the Governor general is being denied natural justice ('Child campaigner defends truth hunt', Australian, 9/5/03)
A senior minister stated that G-G should not be hounded out of office over an error of judgment (Gilchrist M etal,. 'Abbott steps up to support Hollingworth', A, 7/5/03)
It is not possible in the absence of an proper procedure to determine whether the GG should resign or be dismissed in relation to handling of child sex abuse cases. Much comes down to politics - which is unfortunate given that position should be above partisanship. But Hollingworth can no longer do the job - and that should resign. The job requires the ability to unite the nation - in fact as a de-facto head of state. Hollingworth now can not do this. Second GG has to exercise reserve powers - and must have confidence of opposition - which he has now lost (Williams G., 'Compromised Hollingworth can't do his job', CM, 7/5/03)
Coalition MPs join attacks on G-G (Atkins D, CM, 6/5/03)
Peter Hollingworth will not be dismissed - and so must resign. He has little support - and is called on by most of the nation's leaders and call-back radio to resign. The criticism is so widespread it has damaged the office of G-G and the Anglican church. Reasons to resign are: Australia cannot have in vice-regal office someone who failed to act in such a serious matter as child sex abuse; the G-G has lost the support of all senior leaders; (and 10 others) (King M 'Ten good reasons to resign', CM, 6/5/03)
It is a sound constitutional principle that a governor-general should not be dismissed except for misbehavior in office or moral turpitude. The campaign against Peter Hollingworth has been so vicious and one-sided that many believe the worst of him. Yet the governor general requires protection to act against a prime minister acting unconstitutionally. The report of the inquiry has now cleared Hollingworth of the wild accusations that were made against him. Problems were found only in two cases - in one of which he acted on legal advice. Yet when the Queensland Government made no admission and fought all the way to the High Court in an appalling case which involved a teacher who became an MP there was no public outcry. The real target has never been the governor general - but the person who appointed him (Flint D., 'Hollingworth is a scapegoat', A, 5/5/03)
The G-G indicated that he would tough it out though senior government figures refused to support Peter Hollingworth as Democrats leader sought Senate motion of no-confidence. A former Labor leader also called for his resignation (Wilson A 'G-G vows to remain in office', A, 5/5/03)
The Governor General must resign because of the findings that he promoted an Anglican educational official whom church officials knew to have protected pedophiles. There were not the result of a media storm - but of an inquiry conducted by the Anglican church. ('Controversial Hollingworth must go now', A, editorial, 3-4/5/-3)
A former priest has accused Governor General of dismissing his (unsubstantiated) claims that he was abused while working in Brisbane. NSW Premier and Green's leader called for G-G to resign. (Wilson A 'Another sex claim hits G-G', A, 3-4/5//03)
There is strong sentiment within the Coalition government that the G-G should resign. He is however intent on standing firm (Marris S., 'MP's hope he'll go quietly', A, 3-4/5/03)
Bishop Noble denied Peter Hollingworth's claim that he was involved in decision to let known pedophile remain a priest - because, while he had been asked for advice he had been unable to give it because he knew too much about the situation (Macfarlane D 'Bishop raises doubt on defence', A, 3-4/5/03)
The Governor General should resign or be sacked. It is the men who abuse children in their care who are the real problem - and so it is unfortunate that Hollingworth has received all of the negative publicity. But he is G-G and people in such positions have to be better than others. (Duffy M 'We shouldn't let mateship get in the way of morality' CM, 3/5/03)
Peter Hollingworth could claim that he did not breach Anglican protocols on allegations against priests because the did not exist in Brisbane archdiocese - according to woman who drew up church's sex abuse protocols. They were drafted in 1995 and it took several years for them to be released by diocesan council. Delay in release of protocols reflected differences between progressive and conservative forces. The conservatives did not want to do the wrong thing by the diocese while the progressives were aware of the pain of victims and the need for societal change. (Scott L 'Anglican abuse protocol only came after the event', A, 13/5/03)
Queensland's Premier found it difficult to table in parliament the report on sex abuse in the Anglican Church - because he was a practicing Anglican - but believed that sex abuse should never be covered up (Nason D., 'Beattie tells of personal pain', A, 3-4/5/03)
70% of callers to talk-back radio argued that the Governor general should resign or be sacked (Jackson S 'Airwaves abuzz with sack calls', A, 3-4/5/03)
The Governor General has again been hit by a huge wave of condemnations by politicians (including premiers), community leaders and campaigners against sexual abuse - calling for his resignation (Griffith C and Gearing A 'Chorus of critics call for G-G's resignation', CM, 3/3/03)
Peter Hollingworth once said that he would never let up on criticizing policies that failed the poor, the jobless and the disadvantaged. But he now standards accursed of failing societies' victims through the way sex abuse cases were handled from 1999-2001. The board f inquiry found that he had a case to answer. He has always been a contradiction - a social reformer who is also a conservative high churchman. Hollingworth claimed that he had been 'too tired' to do more to help victims (Walker J 'A case to answer', A, 2/5/03)
The board of inquiry were competent and impartial but its terms of reference virtually confined it to Hollingworth's dealings with child sex abuse cases, and were extremely limited. He was not alone in dealing with these issues - yet the sole focus is on him. The Church has set up better procedures to deal with these issues - yet this comes too late for him. The tabling of the inquiries' finding in state parliament is problematic - as it was an internal inquiry. There would be outrage if parliament legislated to impose Christian morality. The publication of the report by the state challenges the separation of church and state. (Murray J 'Judgment for naive shepherd who failed his flock', A, 2/5/03)
A report by Peter O'Callaghan QC and Professor Freda Briggs that was commissioned by the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, Philip Aspinall found that the Governor General, the former Anglican Archbishop, acted unfairly, insensitively and inappropriately in two cases of child abuse - by allowing a known paedophile to work as a priest and not standing down a bishop against whom abuse allegations had been made. (Wilson A. and Emerson S 'G-G protected sex abuser', A, 2/5/03)
The inquiry into instances of sexual abuse in Anglican institutions is limited to dealing with a small number of cases about which complaints were made, and deals not with the cases but with how they were handled by the church. A general concern is that the reputation of the church dominated over the rights of individuals - and that inadequate responses were made to evidence of problems (Lloyd G 'Act of contrition' CM, 19/4/03)
Though public demands for the Governor General's removal have collapsed, the PM still needs to consider the question in terms of the real issues (Atkins D. 'Howard dragged into eye of the Hollingworth storm', Courier Mail, 11/3/02)
The Governor General is facing fresh attacks over a 1993 article that he wrote suggesting repressed memory techniques used to recover memories of childhood abuses could not produce hard evidence, and that churches needed to consider their own legal self defense (Griffith C and Gearing A. 'G-G's article brings fresh attack', Courier Mail, 11/3/02)
Peter Hollingworth claims that attacks on himself were the product of a coalition of people - including social justice advocates, republicans, media, feminists, disaffected clergy and others. But Hollingworth has long been controversial in the Anglican church. He was seen as a future Archbishop of Melbourne - pressing social issues on the public agenda, and reminding Anglicans of God's bias to the poor. He supported broadly 'liberal' issues - and many were disappointed when he was not appointed. But hesitancy over the ordination of women lost him the support of the liberal wing of the Anglican church. In the 1990s he seemed to take a new conservative stance - and many were not surprised when he was appointed Governor General. This does not confirm a smear campaign (Porter M. 'Hollingworth always a controversial figure', Courier mail, 28/2/02)
Media-frenzy has been the term applied to debate concerning the actions of present Governor General when Archbishop of Brisbane – in relation to the fact that schools and the diocesan office had gone into denial over incidents of child sexual abuse and a failure to act against clergy who had abused children. But that accusation is unsustainable – and the attempt to explain the situation has led to even more public concern (Reynolds A., ‘No value in blaming the messenger’, Courier Mail, 27/2/02)
As a priest in a working class area in North Melbourne Peter Hollingworth has fired up High Church Anglicans to work with the poor; attracted no criticism; and seems to have no faults except a willingness to forgive anyone. In dealing with allegations of sexual abuse, this may have been a naive thing to do (Legge K and Yallop R 'Fall from grace', Australian, 23-4/2/02)
The people should have a say in the selection of the governor general and there should be clear rules for sacking this office-holder - according to the Opposition leader (Hendserson I. 'Give people a say: Crean', Australian, 22/2/02)
Queensland's Premier called on Peter Hollingworth to resign - to save the Queen embarrassment (Emerson S. et al 'Premier leads call for G-G to resign', Australian, 22/2/02)
Peter Hollingworth confessed on ABC TV that he had mishandled child abuse allegations as Anglican Archbishop - because of operating within a system which lacked the ability to deal with the complexity of the issues. He also showed that his idea of what constitutes child abuse is out of step with public opinion, and that he was easily lied to. (Neill R. 'Leadership on the rocks', Australian, 22/2/02)
Peter Hollingworth has now done enough damage to his resignation, and the office of governor general to merit his resignation. The PM's view is that, though he has made errors of judgment, there is no evidence to justify his removal (Shanahan D. 'Fatal error of judgment', Australian, 22/2/02)
The Governor General has withdrawn as patron of the child protection charity, Kids First Foundation. This is seen as allowing attention to be given back to the problem of child abuse - rather than to his patronage (Gearing A 'Withdrawal as patron puts kids first again', Courier Mail, 21/2/02)
Peter Hollingworth has done neither himself nor the PM any good by his response to allegations of sex abuse while he was Anglican Archbishop in Brisbane. He merely stated his opinion, rather than detailing the facts. Controversy will not go away until an open independent inquiry is held (Aitkens D. 'Response does G-G no favours', Courier Mail, 21/2/02).
Peter Hollingworth's attempt to explain why he did not sack an Anglican Bishop for a sexual relationship with a 14 year old (on the grounds that the relationship was consensual and provoked) drew calls for his resignation (Griffith C. 'Hollingworth tries to explain', Courier Mail, 21/2/02)
The crisis surrounding the Governor General may create a new push for a republic ('Vice regal laws under fire', Courier Mail, 21/2/02)
An independent an open inquiry into allegations against Governor General should be conducted as an alternative to ‘trial by media’ (Williams G. ‘G-Gs terms of work are outdated’, Australian, 20/2/02)
Attachment: Public Policy Complexities
Attachment: Public Policy Complexities
Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally (Email sent 4/9/10)
Re: Adult conspiracy to silence children a perversion of justice, Weekend Australian, 4-5/9/10
I should like to strongly endorse the suggestion in your article that the extent of sexual abuse of children (and the tactics used to cover it up) are only now being discovered.
While I have no direct knowledge of the problem, it seems from publicly accessible (but generally ignored) information, that the main tactic that the community uses to cover up child sexual abuse is the pretence that this is mainly a problem in church institutions. While abuse within such institutions exposes the hypocrisy of some individuals' Christian 'face', abuse within institutions appears to be insignificant in relation to the level of sexual abuse that occurs in the community generally - according to (apparently credible) sources cited in CPDS Comments on the Background to Sexual Abuse.
The major cause of this problem seems to be the breakdown of a very high percentage of marriages - so that large numbers of children live in blended families with adults who are not their biological parents. The community's way of covering-up such abuse seems to involve sensationalising instances of sexual abuse in church institutions (eg consider the Queensland Government's inquiry into sexual abuse of children in Anglican institions). By pointing the finger at those who should be condemning immorality in the community, it has been possible to cover up the real extent of the problem.
However another tactic that has been used with success to facilitate and conceal child sexual abuse involves the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour - as that acceptance seems to (a) constitute belated endorsement of the childhood abuse and neglect that seems to characterise many in the 'gay' community; and (b) facilitate future abuse by enabling predators to convince same-sex victims not to complain about what is being done to them because it is OK to be homosexual (see Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour).
There is no doubt that 'conspiracies' by adults to cover up the sexual abuse of children is a pervasion of justice. But exposing those conspiracies will encounter a lot of resistance, and I wish you luck in doing so.
Explaining prohibitions on gay marriage to children (Email sent 6/11/10)
Senator Mark Arbib
Re: ‘Call by Arbib to back gay marriage’, The Australian, 6-7/11/10
The above article suggested that you would have difficulties explaining to children why gay marriage is not allowed. I should like to offer some help.
In the first place, there is no enthusiasm for homosexual behaviour in the Christian Bible. Some argue that such behaviour is absolutely condemned (see What does the Bible say about homosexuality by Matt Slick), while others argue that the question is uncertain, because the issue was not of much concern in earlier eras (see What does the Bible say about Homosexuality on another website). However there is no positive enthusiasm for homosexual behaviour anywhere in the Bible, and this must be a significant consideration in a country whose liberal institutions depend on their Christian heritage (see Christian Foundations of Liberal Western Institutions).
However explaining prohibitions on gay marriage to children should be easy, as children seem to be the main victims of the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally and Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour). Official approval of gay marriage would be a further step towards endorsing and encouraging the abuse and neglect of children. Thus it should surely not be hard to explain why this would be immoral.
Same Sex Marriage: Marching into Moral Quicksand (email sent 17/11/10)
Re: ‘Rainbow of opinions over gay marriage’, Crikey, 16/11/10
Your article included reference to a map which showed regions in which Australians think ‘homosexuality is immoral’.
Might I respectfully suggest that the bigger issue is that, irrespective of whether homosexuality is immoral, ‘the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour’ is almost certainly immoral – though most in the community are not aware of this (yet).
The public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (which recognition of gay marriage would take to a new extreme) constitutes presumably-unintended-but-none-the-less-real endorsement and encouragement of child abuse (see Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour and Explaining prohibitions on gay marriage to children). I don’t know whether you are aware of the extent of child abuse (including sexual abuse) in the community but it is apparently: massive; always put in the ‘too-hard’ basket by political leaders; and linked with the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (both as a cause and as a consequence).
Endorsing Homosexual Behaviour: Marching into Moral Quicksand and a Middle Eastern Quagmire? (email sent 21/12/10)
Re: Obama to sign 'don't ask' repeal this week -- may hold news conference, USAToday, Dec 20 2010
Your article referred to a statement by President Obama, to the effect that: ‘It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly’, and implied that such a decision would simply be a matter of ending discrimination.
I should like to suggest for your consideration why this decision appears to be ill-informed, morally indefensible and a threat to the security of the USA.
The key issue related to accepting openly gays and lesbians is not one of discrimination but rather that, irrespective of the morality of what individuals do, ‘the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour’ is almost certainly immoral – though, if the USA is like Australia, most Americans will not (yet) be aware of this.
The public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (which the ‘don’t ask’ repeal would take to a new extreme) constitutes presumably-unintended-but-none-the-less-real endorsement and encouragement of child abuse. Presuming that the extent of child abuse (including sexual abuse) in the USA is similar to that in Australia, then it represents a social problem that is: massive; always put in the ‘too-hard’ basket by political leaders; and linked with the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (because the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour both facilitates future sexual abuse and endorses past abuse and neglect of children - see Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour).
Your article referred to ‘lawyers working on “implementation and legal issues” associated with lifting the ban on gays in the military’. Is anyone going to consider the national security implications? The ‘don’t ask’ repeal could be expected to lead to a propaganda triumph for Islamist extremists in their efforts to mobilize Muslim communities worldwide against the USA (and the US military in particular). A major component of the Islamist case against liberal Western institutions is that the West is a moral ‘rubbish heap’ (see Speculations about Extremist’s Manifestos). This was first argued by Sayyid Qutb who founded the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the roots from which Saudi Wahhibism and thus ultimately Al Qaeda sprung. Given the extreme position against homosexuality that emerges in Muslim communities and that the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour is almost certainly morally indefensible, the ‘don’t ask’ repeal is unlikely to be a useful contribution to winning hearts and minds in the Muslim world, and thus ultimately the war against Islamist extremists.
I respectfully suggest that the American public needs to be aware of the broader implications of this proposal.
Breaking Off the Long Engagement? - email sent 27/1/11
Re: The Long Engagement, Weekend Australian Magazine, 15-16/1/11
Might I respectfully suggest that the issues involved in the ‘gay’ marriage issue are more fundamental than your article indicated? The real question should not be whether same-sex relationships should be further normalised, but rather: what should be done to protect the innocent victims of the ‘me’ generation’s tendency to base their view of acceptable behaviour on self-interest, rather than on concern for others’ welfare?
In this debate ‘everyone’ your article quoted seems to be overlooking a fundamental problem. Legalization of ‘gay’ marriage would merely worsen the moral mess that many governments, community leaders and ordinary citizens are already embroiled in. The problem is that (for reasons that are neither obvious, nor generally recognised), the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour appears morally indefensible (irrespective of the morality of homosexual behaviour itself). Such acceptance seems to have the unintended-but-real effect of endorsing and encouraging child abuse and neglect (see Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour). And policy changes by governments (such as those your article referred to) indicate that a high level of public acceptance of homosexual behaviour now exists.
Severe social dysfunctions (of which the escalation of child abuse and neglect are nasty, but by no means isolated, examples) have arisen in recent decades because questions of morality have been considered only narrowly (eg in terms of what particular individuals would like to do), without considering whether what those individuals want to do may have remote and unintended consequences and victims. The breakdown of marriages, and the trend towards serial relationships which apparently exposes huge numbers of children to sexual abuse because they live with adults who are not their biological parents, also seem to well established social trends that have innocent victims whose interests have simply been ignored.
The attached email (‘The Times They are a-Changing’ - but not always for the better) argues that the cumulative effect of these and many other social trends that reflect individual dis-interest in the welfare of others now constitutes a threat to Australia’s community as a whole. Further exacerbating such problems (eg by reinforcing the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour) would hardly be helpful.
I would be interested in your response to the above speculations.
The Times They are a-Changing' - but not always for the better (email sent 27/1/11
RE: ‘Times are changing, but it’s our outlook that leads the way’, The Australian, 27/1/11
Your article suggests that a major change in Australia over the past 50 years has involved social values (ie the way people think, behave and conduct their lives has been loosened, with greater expression of free will).
This is undoubtedly correct.
However the loosening of values by the ‘me generation’ has usually been driven by individual self-interest rather than by the Christian principle of ‘valuing others as yourself’. Numerous adverse social symptoms have arisen as a result of individual dis-interest in the welfare of others (see Moral Foundations of Individual Liberty). The latter also points to the growth of constraints on individual liberty (and its political and economic advantages) that are starting to emerge as human authorities (eg political leaders) try to compensate for the increasing failure of individual consciences to promote moral behaviour.
Rising moral authoritarianism threats liberal institutions (Email sent 25/6/11)
Re: Where gay matrimony meets elite sanctimony, The Australian, 25/6/11
Your article makes interesting points about the campaign for gay marriage giving rise to demands for the acceptance of new moral and cultural values, and to discriminatory intolerance of opponents. I should like to try to add value to what seems to be the theme of your article (ie that such claims of moral authority are a threat to liberal traditions), and also to suggest little known reasons to suspect that supporters of gay marriage may not be on the high moral ground.
Firstly I submit that the existence of liberal legal and government institutions in Western societies has depended on the fact that human claims to be the source of moral authority are impossible under the West’s Christian traditions. Moreover, as people have increasingly drifted away from their ethical moorings, the resulting erosion of behavioural standards has given rise to serious social dysfunctions. Claims of moral authority are increasingly being heard in an effort to correct those problems. Such claims are leading to, and must inevitably lead to, a breakdown in the separation between religion and state, though such a separation has been essential for a liberal society and a secular government. This point is developed more fully, in an Australian context, in Moral Foundations of Individual Liberty.
Human claims of moral authority, that your article notes are emerging in relation to gay marriage, are by no means the only example of this phenomenon.
Secondly there seems to be a pressing need to highlight the probability that the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (which legalization of gay marriage would raise to a new level) also involves endorsement and encouragement of child abuse. Advocates of the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour arguably need to seriously consider both the probability that such abuse is the cause of homosexual behaviour in many (most?) cases and expert views of the consequences for vulnerable children of its public acceptance (see Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour).
I would be interested in your response to the above speculations.
PS: I noted a reference on your web-site to restoring the place of the humanities in universities (eg see Grayling cries freedom). My version of a similar argument is in A Case for Restoring Universities, and may be of interest.
Same-sex Civil Unions: Endorsing Child Abuse? (email sent 29/11/11)
Re: Civil unions down to wire, BrisbaneTimes, 29/11/11
Your article noted that: (a) the forthcoming vote on same-sex civil unions in Queensland’s Parliament is likely to be close; (b) in introducing the bill the Treasurer, Mr Fraser, had argued that it would simply recognise and validate committed relationships; and (c) many (but not all) observers supported this proposal.
The problem is that no one seems to be concerned about the relationship between the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (which the Civil Unions Bill would seem likely to extend further) and the abuse and neglect of children. The latter is a massive social problem and is likely to have severe consequences for the community as a whole. That linkage is explored in Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour. In brief the latter points to:
The fact seems to be that the public endorsement of homosexual behaviour by ‘consenting adults’ (whether by legislation or in other ways) is also an endorsement in many / most cases of the earlier sexual abuse and neglect of those individuals as children (as well as a contributor to future sexual abuse of other children). It thus seems morally indefensible.
Mr Fraser appeared to favour legislating to recognise same-sex civil partnerships because diverse relationships amongst people have become a fact of life (see Fraser A. ‘The speech: 'Why I'm introducing this bill', BrisbaneTimes, 25/11/11 and Civil Partnerships Bill: Introduction and referral to the Health and Disabilities Committee, Hansard). Queensland’s Premier, Ms Bligh, went further by suggesting that the bill was a chance to end discrimination against those who suffer it every day (see Cartwright D. Bligh hopes civil unions bill will get the nod’, NineMSN, 27/11/11).
It is noted also that Mr Fraser suggested that this is a matter for individual consciences (see Fraser A. ‘The speech: 'Why I'm introducing this bill', BrisbaneTimes, 25/11/11). However this suggestion raises another important issue, because (as suggested above) individuals may not be really aware of the remote consequences of what they decide and do. Liberal societies (a feature Australia inherited) appear to have emerged only where it has been presumed that individual consciences would be guided by responsibility to God (see Erosion of the Moral Foundations of Liberal Institutions in Australia's Governance Crisis and the Need for Nation Building). In brief, the latter suggests that in other societies, individual liberty has usually / always been constrained by human claims to moral authority, because individual judgements are considered unreliable. Moreover in Australia now there are signs of: (a) the emergence of highly dysfunctional behaviours within the community as a result of individual consciences being driven mainly by self-interest; and (b) increasing human claims of moral authority (eg by politicians) in an attempt to compensate for the ethical failure of individuals. These trends must eventually undermine the assumptions of liberty that have been the basis of Australia’s legal and governance institutions (and of the political and economic advantages that liberal institutions are brought).
Rather than legally endorsing outcomes (eg homosexual behaviour) that apparently often results from social dysfunctions (eg child sexual abuse in non-biological families), it would seem far more useful to consider what needs to be done to reduce the incidence of those dysfunctions.
Shedding light on child abuse (email sent 4/12/11 - slightly modified)
Re: Gay unions fury wide of the mark, Sunday Mail, 4/12/11
I should like to try to add value to the broader concerns you expressed (ie about threats to children) in the context of the debate about same sex civil unions in Queensland. Your article suggested that:
Your concerns appear to be valid. And it is noted that other observers have also suggested that the community has not been paying enough attention to the problem (see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally, 2010).
However, in relation to legalising same-sex-civil unions, the problem is there seems to be a significant link between the psychological, physical and sexual abuse of children and the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (see Same-sex Civil Unions: Endorsing Child Abuse?, 2011).
This question seems to go straight over the heads of those who are loudest and most vocal in advocating the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour. It seems to be assumed that ‘gays’ are being accused of being the perpetrators of abuse. While this is undoubtedly true of some paedophiles (“Hush there, don’t cry about what I’m doing to you. It’s OK to be homosexual”), the vastly bigger issue seems to be that ‘gays’ often seem to be the products of abuse (“Hush there, don’t cry about what was done to you when you were a child. It’s OK to be gay. In fact it’s your right to have a same-sex civil union”). My recent experience shows that raising the issue of child abuse can generate abuse of quite a different kind from those who prefer a ‘head in the sand’ approach.
Australia’s system of government is failing largely because of the inability of public debates and the political system to deal realistically with the complexity of social, environmental and economic issues (see Australia's Governance Crisis and the Need for Nation Building, from 2003). The latter suggests, for example, that half-baked populist policies are often supported because of the lack (or the crippling) of the institutions needed to enable issues to be addressed properly both in public policy debates and by governments. And Queensland is anything but exempt from this problem (eg suggestions about more competent external and internal support in The Upper House Solution: A Commentary, 2006).
I would be interested in your response to the above speculations.
Don't Ignore the Links Between Child Abuse and Homosexual Behaviour - email sent 13/1/12
Professor Kerryn Phelps
Re: Nolan T., ‘Gay activist accuses tennis great of vilification’, ABC, 13/1/12
Might I respectfully suggest that this issue requires more civilised debate? According to the above article you suggested that “Margaret Court's views go beyond a difference of opinion over gay marriage and are dangerous and hurtful ….. (and her) comments vilify homosexuals”. Such personal attacks do nothing to prove the acceptability, or otherwise, of homosexual behaviour.
The issues involved seem to be far more complex than you are assuming, as (quite apart from what the Bible has to say about the matter) there are reasonable grounds for examining the link between homosexual behaviour and childhood trauma that Rev Dr Margaret Court has mentioned (and another apparent link that she may not be aware of).
I have no direct knowledge of the ‘gay’ community, but an informal study of issues related to child sexual abuse some years ago (see About Child Sex Abuse, 2003) revealed strong indications of two links between homosexual behaviour and child abuse and neglect that would seem to make the public endorsement of homosexual behaviour morally indefensible.
My reasons for suggesting this are further developed in Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour and Shedding light on child abuse. The latter refers to aspects of the same-sex marriage issue that are almost-universally ignored, and are not what most people seem to automatically assume when same-sex marriage and the now-massive social problem of child abuse are mentioned simultaneously
In today’s Australian it was suggested (in a letter to the editor by Brian Greig) that the approach taken by Mrs Court (in effect that sexual orientation can be changed, and that this should be attempted) ‘has been denounced by Australian and American Psychological Societies as both harmful and dangerous’. This makes sense if it is assumed (as psychologists seem to do) that homosexual behaviour has primarily biological / genetic causes. But it does not do so if homosexual behaviour has primarily social causes in many / most cases. The problem seems to be that a ‘black or white’ approach is taken to a ‘shades of grey’ issue (ie commentators seem to perceive only the cause that best serves to reinforce their assumptions, as illustrated in A Comment on Causality in Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour).
Taking a blinker view makes it easy for what should be civilized debate to degenerate into personal abuse, and this is no more helpful in relation to the desirability (or otherwise) of publicly endorsing homosexual behaviour than was the routine claim at one time that anyone who questioned the smuggling of asylum seekers into Australia must be a racist (see Attachment A to Complexities in the Refugee Problem, 2001+).
Attention to Child Abuse is Long Overdue - email sent 29/1/12
Re: Court’s claim on gays, Sunday Mail, 29/1/12
Congratulations for publicly raising the link between child abuse and homosexual behaviour.
Your article noted the difference of opinion between Margaret Court who believes (on the basis of experience in dealing with members of the gay community) that there is a significant causal link (though she did not want to say too much about it to avoid opening ‘another can of worms’) and others such as:
In relation to this controversy I should like to draw your attention to Don't Ignore the Links Between Child Abuse Homosexual Behaviour, and also note that:
There seems to be massive community and official resistance to going anywhere near issues that relate to the now-scandalous problem of child sexual abuse (see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally). This resistance may exist because: (a) sexual abuse seems to be a problem in too many families; (b) it seems to occur mainly where children live with adults who are not their biological parents – and is thus a symptom of the community’s loss of commitment to lifelong marriages; and (c) fixing the problem requires moral renewal – and this is a matter for churches, not for the state.
Because of this resistance your article, while useful in raising the issue, is unlikely to make much difference in the long term. However it is noted that the Greens have advocated a Senate inquiry into same sex marriage (see Curtis K., ‘Senate inquiry chance to have say on gay marriage: Greens’, Canberra Times, 25/1/12) and hopefully this will have terms of reference that are broad enough to cover the need for serious research into the links between the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour and child abuse.
In seeking human rights, don't forget children - email sent 15/2/12
Stephen Keim and Catherine Renshaw,
Re: ‘Every one of us should be equal in the law, love and marriage’, Courier Mail, 15/2/12
Your article argued, on the basis of the past evolution of the concept of marriage, that it was invalid to oppose further change (eg endorsing same-sex marriage) on the grounds that marriage has a fixed meaning (ie involving a man and a woman). It also suggested that: “From a human rights perspective, the issue of same-sex marriage is pretty straightforward”.
However, the issue is anything but ‘straight forward’ because legal recognition of same sex marriage would seem to be yet one more nail in the coffin of the human rights of those children who are subject to sexual and other abuse. My reasons for suggesting this (which relate to two apparent linkages between the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour and child abuse) are outlined in Attention to Child Abuse is Long Overdue. Child abuse (sexual and otherwise) has apparently become a massive affront to human rights in Australia (see Background to Sexual Abuse and Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally). And, though the community does not yet want to face up to the magnitude and implications of the problem, it is surely morally unacceptable to: (a) treat what seem often to be the symptoms of child abuse (ie a ‘gay’ approach to sexuality as an adult) as being a simple expression of ‘freedom and equality’; and (b) facilitate abuse of children by paedophiles by helping the latter to overcome children’s resistance by claiming that ‘It’s OK to be homosexual’.
In Attention to Child Abuse is Long Overdue it was noted that the proposed Senate inquiry into gay marriages will provide an opportunity to explore the linkages between child abuse and the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour – providing it has broad enough terms of reference. Advocating such broad terms of reference would provide Australian Lawyers for Human Rights with a more substantial opportunity to seek to ensure that ‘every one of us should be equal before the law’.
More generally I would submit for your consideration that redefining the meaning of words can have practical consequences, and this should not be done without careful consideration of those consequences. The uncritical post-modern notion that meanings are purely arbitrary is undermining and threatening key many of Australia’s key institutions, including: effective government; community; liberty; democracy; egalitarianism; the rule-of-law; and education (see Confusion of Knowledge). Australian lawyers who are concerned about human rights would be better occupied considering the practical implications of what words are taken to mean, rather than risk exacerbating social, community and political problems by superficial advocacy of treating meanings as arbitrary.
Finally it is overly simplistic to argue (as your article did) that: "All human rights are derived from the core principles of freedom and equality.” Surely ‘rights’ should exist on the basis of ‘freedom and equality’ only where there are no adverse consequences for others. It would be foolish to create a ‘right’ to steal on the basis of ‘freedom and equality’ to ensure that there would be no discrimination against kleptomaniacs.
An ABC Witch-hunt? - email sent 13/3/12
I noted with amazement that your article (below) implied that an ABC radio presenter should be persecuted for doing a voice-over on a political campaign advertisement. While Katter’s Australian Party only seems to appeal to a minority, they are entitled to express a point of view.
And legalizing ‘gay’ marriage is anything but an unambiguously good thing (eg see Don't Ignore the Links Between Child Abuse and Homosexual Behaviour). Moreover, as the latter suggests, directing undisguised hatred and abuse against those who express unpopular views (such as Katter’s Australian Party and anyone who helps them produce an advertisement) is not a sound basis for public debate, though it seems to be a favoured tactic to discourage dissent with ‘politically correct’ views.
If your article is correct (ie if the ABC has actually launched a witch-hunt against Ms McGill) then this would seem likely to generate a public revulsion that could be politically advantageous to Katter’s Australian Party – and, in my opinion, this would hardly be of benefit to the community as a whole.
Extract from email received 13/3/12
1. ABC Radio presenter, the voice of Katter hate ad, stood down
An ABC Radio presenter revealed as the voice of the notorious Bob Katter Australian Party attack ad -- roundly condemned by all sides of politics -- has been stood down by the national broadcaster.
Suzanne McGill, a casually-employed Saturday breakfast host of ABC South West WA local radio, is named at the end of the ad as the voiceover artist responsible for delivering homophobic lines like "the LNP leader supports gay marriage, just like Greens leader Bob Brown" and "is a vote for LNP leader Campbell Newman a vote for gay marriage?"
After a pro-gay marriage blog speculated over the connection, and following Crikey's inquiries to the ABC, a spokesperson said a formal investigation will now be held into McGill's involvement.
"It can be confirmed that Ms McGill did not seek nor obtain permission for external voiceover work, as required under ABC Editorial and Workplace behaviours policies," the spokesperson said.
"ABC Editorial and Workplace Policies apply to all staff, regardless of employment status. To that end, the ABC will conduct a formal investigation. Ms McGill will not be on air while the matter is investigated."
According to the ABC's editorial policies covering "independence, integrity and responsibility", the "external activities of individuals undertaking work for the ABC must not undermine the independence and integrity of the ABC's editorial content". Its specific Queensland election policies reiterate its commitment to impartiality and independence given the trust thrust upon the government broadcaster by the voting public.
McGill could not be contacted this morning.
In addition to her ABC work, McGill is employed by Abe's Audio, doing spots for a range of clients including furniture retailers and flower shops. An Abe's spokesperson confirmed that the company had been involved in the production of the Katter spot.
Other elements of the ad have also attracted criticism. The pixellated image of the gay couple used in the ad was quickly chased by crafty Googlers to this copyrighted stock image from a French photo house.
The Katter strategists behind the ad depart from the usual Australian template, employing many of the tactics incorporated in US versions including sinister keyboard lines, slow pans and zooming, repetition and horror movie-style cut-ups.
The ad appears to be strongly influenced by this notorious 2008 effort from US conservative political action group the "American Issues Project", linking Weather Underground founder Bill Ayres to Barack Obama. "Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?" the haunting voiceover asked.
University of Melbourne political ad expert Sally Young told Crikey this morning that while the US-aping approach was usually a rarity, Australia has a storied history of negativity, including attacks on Robert Menzies, Gough Whitlam and Liberals' recently-reprised "Kevin O'Lemon" and "Latham L Plates" series.
"It's very presidential in style ... the production values are really cheap and nasty and the use of the image is interesting," she said. "Obviously they didn't want to get a real image of a gay couple in case they repudiated them. It's very American...there's no sense of humour about it and it's actually quite vicious."
Overnight, The Guardian posted a helpful primer to the current slate of GOP primary attack ads which have much higher production values. The all-time best attack ad -- so famous that it has inspired its own "index" -- is this 1988 George HW Bush spot highlighting Michael Dukakis' "weekend prison passes" that allowed criminal Willie Horton to commit rape and murder.
Then there's this amazing mash-up on the 1800 presidential election. "John Adams is a blind, bald crippled, toothless man who wants to start a war with France," the ad begins. "When he's not busy importing mistresses from Europe he's trying to marry one of his sons to a daughter of King George."
A political insider contacted by Crikey this morning named a classic of the Australian genre as a 2007 NSW election Labor ad targeting Peter Debnam's ownership of a failed prawn hatchery and a gym.
Broader issues related to gay marriage - email sent 7/4/12
Re: 'I now pronounce you partner 1 and partner 2': why gay marriage is bad for us all, The Australian, 7/4/12
Your article pointed to the fact that legalization of gay marriage provides a wedge for the state to interfere in traditionally-private family life.
In relation to your expressed concern about losing freedom from state-determined notions of morality, I should like to submit for your consideration that:
While it takes some time to get one’s head around the latter problem, it might be a good subject for a future article.
Ignoring Child Abuse? - email sent 13/6/12
Kate McKenna and
RE: ‘Praying away the gay’, Sunday Mail, 10/6/12
Might I respectfully suggest the need for a more balanced approach to this subject than was taken in your article? It seems that in many (most?) cases individuals are ‘gay’ because of abuse or neglect as children. Thus it would be more constructive to focus on ways to prevent this, rather than: (a) emphasising the rights of victims to endure the consequences of abuse and neglect; and (b) dismissing attempts to deal with those consequences as controversial / brainwashing / likely to be banned overseas / harmful / professional malpractice.
There are highly divergent views about the causes of homosexual behaviour. Observers / researches seem to make one of two clearly incompatible claims (ie that the causes are either entirely social or entirely biological - see A Comment on Causality). This presumably reflects one of the classic limitations in research recognised by philosophers of science – ie that observers tend to see what they expect to see, which is the reason that double-blind placebo controlled experiments are often favoured. A shades-of-grey approach to causality would probably be more appropriate than either extremist claim.
There are undoubtedly difficulties with therapies intended to help ‘gays’, but it seems that many such people are deeply troubled anyway so it must be difficult to tell whether disorders are the result of inappropriate therapies or their earlier experiences . The fact that the whole issue is subjected to an unbalanced and uncivilized debate is presumably part of the reason for their problems.
Your article’s attempt to ignore links between child abuse and homosexual behaviour is inappropriate for reasons outlined in Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour. In brief this draws attention to:
With respect I submit again that it more important to consider how children could be less exposed to abuse (eg by a re-emphasis on lifelong marriages / parental care and not publicly endorsing homosexual behaviour), than to criticize well-intended efforts to remedy the consequences that sometimes flow from being abused or neglected as children (see also In seeking human rights, don't forget children).
Perhaps homophilia is a bigger problem - email sent 17/6/12
Re: It’s homophobia that is the real problem, Sunday Mail, 17/6/12
Your article commented on the Sunday Mail article last weekend that had expressed concern that some saw homosexuality as a curable disease / a psychological disorder.
My reaction to that article was that it represented a one-eyed view of a very complex problem (see Ignoring Child Abuse?). This suggested, in effect, that homophilia (ie the acceptance of homosexual behaviour) might be a bigger problem than homophobia.
A response that I received from one observer who has a much greater involvement with ‘gays’ than I do was:
Children the Victims of Marriage Breakdown - Period. - email sent 21/6/12 (modified)
Re: Children the victims in minefield of same-sex marriage breakdowns, The Australian, 21/6/12
Your article pointed to the complexities arising from the breakdown of a homosexual marriage where children were involved – as a response to the support for recognition of such marriage by some members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs (including the chairman, Graham Perrett).
In introducing this you suggested that: “Homosexuals ……. are in all respects, save one, like anyone else.”
This does not appear to be a correct statement, because homosexual behaviour seems to be a consequence in many (most?) cases of the abuse and neglect that affected individuals suffered as children, and that abuse and neglect seem to be particularly associated with the breakdown of traditional marriages (eg see email of 31/5/12 to Adam Brandt in relation to the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill).
Children are the victims of the breakdown of marriages of any sort – and in some cases homosexual behaviour as adults appears to be one of the symptoms (though by no means the only symptom).
The same-sex marriage inquiries conducted by the Senate and House of Representatives provided an opportunity to consider the apparent links between child abuse and homosexual behaviour (eg see Attention to Child Abuse is Long Overdue), but it seems that this opportunity was missed.
Homophilia: A Bigger Test of Social Morality? - email sent 27/6/12
Re: Homophobia: a litmus test of social morality, Online Opinion, 27/6/12
Your article equated homophobia with racism, and suggested that debates about marriage equality / gay marriage illustrated the problem.
However the (so-called) ‘debates’ about marriage equality / gay marriage have simply failed to seriously consider what is arguably the most important aspect of this issue – namely the dubious morality of homophilia (ie the acceptance of homosexual behaviour). My reasons for suggesting this (related to the links between homophilia and child abuse) are outlined in Perhaps homophilia is a bigger problem .
Gay Health: Don't Ignore Childhood Experiences - email sent 19/9/12
Re: ‘Truth a victim in unholy row’, The Australian, 13/9/12
Your article suggested that concerns recently expressed about the health problems facing those in the ‘gay’ community are based on homophobia rather than on real concern for public health.
Unfortunately the claims recorded in your article seem to be simplistic and perhaps seriously distorted.
It seems likely that many (most?) are in the ‘gay’ and lesbian community because they suffered abuse and neglect as children (see Ignoring Child Abuse?). If so then childhood abuses are likely to be a major factor in the psychological stresses that are seen to contribute to the depression and unsafe lifestyles that promote ill-health and poor life expectancy amongst affected individuals.
There seems to be a strong resistance to confronting the shockingly high incidence of child abuse in the community (see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally). Unless and until the apparently extraordinarily high incidence of childhood abuse and neglect affecting ‘gays’ and lesbians in particular is taken into account, claims about the causes of their health problems can have little credibility.
Child Sexual Abuse: Kicking the Can Down the Road? - email sent 12/11/12
Sid Maher and Milanda Rout
Re: Investigate church abuse, Julia Gillard told, as government MPs, independents push for royal commission, The Australian, 12/11/12
Your article noted that calls are being made for an inquiry into the sexual abuse of children in Catholic institutions, and that the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney (Cardinal George Pell) suggested that this would constitute a disproportionate attack on the church, because the church was not the only culprit or the only community producing culprits.
Others (eg Nick Champion) reportedly suggested that a royal commission was needed with the power to look at “any Australian institution that has care of children and where these allegations have been made” (Packam B. and Vasek L., Julia Gillard considers church abuse inquiry calls, The Australian, 12/11/12).
What a good idea!! But there is a problem.
Seriously dealing with child sexual abuse could turn into a poisoned chalice for anyone who drinks from it, because:
Australia’s political leaders have been afraid to do anything, because: (a) widespread sexual abuse arguably reflects a breakdown of both community morality and of the biological family unit; and (b) far too many in the electorate must be involved. Avoiding the issue has been everyone’s preferred tactic (see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally). An inquiry focused on the Catholic Church would seem likely to continue the cover-up (in the same way that it is often said that authorities in democracies now prefer to ‘kick the can down the road’ because they can’t address difficult economic / budgetary problems).
A courageous and lateral-thinking prime minister might find a way around this difficulty by asking Australia’s churches generally to address the full extent of the problem that Cardinal Pell has now ‘blown the whistle’ on. The latter might, if challenged, be able to summon the guts and motivation to do so - on the basis of their mission and political independence – and then challenge the communal immorality that is the root of the problem.
However ‘kicking the can down the road’ is likely to be easier politically.
Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion - email sent 19/11/12
Hon Nicola Roxon, MP
Hon Brendan O’Connor, MP
Re: Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse¸ Transcript of Prime Minister’s Press Conference, 12/11/12
I should like to suggest (for reasons outlined in more detail on my website) that the proposed Royal Commission’s terms of reference should focus on systemically inadequate responses to child abuse by churches, governments, the legal profession and a fast-growing ‘sexual abuse industry’. Investigating systemic problems in those areas should be less costly, quicker and more effective than if the Commission is directed to investigate problems in ‘services-for-children’ institutions on a case-by-case basis (ie to investigate problems in potentially thousands of orphanages / schools run by religious / not-for-profit / state organisations).
Though the full extent of child sexual abuse is not clear it appears that: (a) sexual abuse affects a very significant minority of children, so there may be millions of victims; and (b) most cases arise in families and in the general community (see The Problem in About Child Sex Abuse, 2003+). The proposed Royal Commission would thus be a costly and time-consuming waste of effort if (as the Prime Minister’s press release implied) it deals only with:
There is arguably no need to spend many years and hundreds of millions of dollars on the proposed Royal Commission.
However, if a narrow, time consuming and expensive approach is taken to the Royal Commission’s terms of reference, a case will clearly emerge for a parallel (perhaps independent) inquiry over the next few months that takes a broader systemic view of the problem (eg along the lines suggested on my website) and draws upon evidence informally, rather than legalistically.
[Note: in the original email, 'pedophilia' had mistakenly been written where 'sex abuse' now appears in grey, because the writer (who is a learner rather an expert in these areas) was only advised later of the difference between the psychiatric condition of pedophilia (ie a sexual attraction towards children) and the actual sexual abuse of children.]
The Royal Commission might be more effective and faster in dealing with the whole problem of child sexual abuse and in reducing the incidence of abuse, if it has a strategic and systemic mandate rather than one to investigate problems in ‘services-for-children’ institutions on a case-by-case basis. Reasons for suggesting this follow.
Churches’ response to the widespread incidence of sexual abuse of children has been seriously inadequate for decades because most have failed to continue stressing the importance of moral behaviour by individuals in the face of clearly declining standards (eg see Evidence in relation to this trend generally, and What has gone wrong with morality? (2003) in relation to child sexual abuse). This matters because churches are the only institution that can do anything about individual moral failings (which not only give rise to child sex abuse and to tens of thousands of children having to be taken into foster care, but to innumerable other social dysfunctions) without undermining Australia’s liberal legal, governmental and economic institutions.
Governments’ responses also seem inadequate because they have repeatedly commissioned inquiries into the failure of (say) church-owned institutions to deal effectively with allegations of abuse of children in their care, and this merely disguises the full extent of the problem (see Child Sexual Abuse: Kicking the Can Down the Road?). Governments' unwillingness / inability to deal effectively with child sexual abuse in the general community exactly parallels the difficulties that those in charge of 'services for children' institutions have faced.
The result of governments' narrow approach to child sexual abuse is that the community generally is not made aware of the apparent scale and nature of the problem. For example, it was noted that:
The problem is that the Victorian parliamentary inquiry might be giving a quite misleading understanding of the problem on the basis of a sample of less than 1% of all cases (ie if claims by those who have looked at the whole of the child sex abuse problem are valid, namely that (say) 20% of children are subjected to sexual abuse and that this occurs mainly in a family / community context, then the real numbers of sexual abuse victims since 1956 in Victoria (population 5.5m) is likely to be 0.5-1m, while the number of offenders might be (say) 50-200,000).
The Royal Commission arguably needs to investigate government responses to allegations of sex abuse also because there are periodically claims about pedophile rings in governments, in government institutions dealing with children and in the judiciary. Queensland’s Heiner affair (for example) may, or may not, be a consequences of such corruption in government / legal institutions (eg see Shredder-gate isn't necessarily ‘much ado about nothing', 2007). Such networks could easily give rise to dysfunctional institutional responses to instances and allegations of child abuse, and thus this possibility needs to be investigated.
The Legal Profession seems to prefer to ‘follow the money’ in responding to the sexual abuse of children. Lawyers appear to recommend action against ‘services-for-children’ institutions (rather than against individual abusers in those institutions or in the general community), because such institutions can have large often-government-supported operational budgets and thus a lot more money that can be extracted if they can be held to be liable for the moral failings of their staff (including those who may be complicit in cover-ups).
Legislative changes which limit legal action for sexual abuse to the individuals responsible (ie for sexual abuse or for cover-ups) should be considered to:
A ‘sexual abuse industry’ has apparently emerged comprising those whose careers involve providing victims with counselling / support / legal advice, and analysing the phenomenon. This ‘industry’ also needs investigation because their methods and motivations are oriented towards dealing with the symptoms of child sexual abuse, rather than curing the disease (and this inadvertently constitutes an institutional obstacle to reducing sexual abuse). Those in the 'industry' need to be made aware that the objective should be to make their jobs redundant rather than to stir up 'witch-hunts'.
Child Sexual Abuse: Don't Turn Your Back on Millions of Victims - email sent 22/11/12
I should like to make a submission in relation to the scope and terms of reference of the proposed Royal Commission, as well as comment briefly on the consequent information requirements, Commissioners’ qualifications and timescale for the Commission’s work.
My submission related to the Royal Commission’s scope and terms of reference is in A Strategic Suggestion (on my web-site). In brief this suggests that its terms of reference should focus on systemically inadequate responses to child sexual abuse by four different types of public and private institutions and organisations, namely churches, governments, the legal profession and the fast-growing ‘sexual abuse industry’. This suggestion was first referenced in an email to the Attorney General and Acting Minister for Families on 19/11/12 (see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion). It includes reference to a simple legislative change that should improve the ability of both the legal profession and ‘services-for-children’ institutions (such as orphanages and schools) to deal effectively with allegations and instances of child sexual abuse.
It is submitted in particular that it would be morally indefensible for the Commission to turn its back on the potentially millions of victims of sexual abuse in family / community contexts.
No matter what the context, child sexual abuse reflects a similar moral failure, and the effects on victims are similar. Also a narrow focus on the difficulties that ‘services-for-children’ institutions have in dealing with the problem is likely to be less effective in preventing future abuse and perhaps even counterproductive (because of the resulting emphasis on treating symptoms, rather than curing the disease).
My Strategic Suggestion implies that the Commission would require information about:
Commissioners appointed to undertake this investigation would need to have backgrounds which qualified them to assess such information.
It is also suggested that the Royal Commission could realistically be required to produce an interim report by June 2013, while the timing of a final report would depend on what supplementary surveys and sub-inquiries were found to be necessary as the result of initial consultations with others who have studied the child sexual abuse phenomenon over recent years.
Stable versus Unstable Family Relationships: The Effect on Children - email sent 6/12/12
Re: In brave new world, latte line cuts the ideological divide, The Australian, 6/12/12
Your article pointed to the difference between cities / regions on the basis of whether or not there tends to be a commitment to stable family relationships.
It would be interesting to see a future article deal with differences between ‘progressive’ and ‘conservative’ cities in relation to the incidence of child sexual abuse, because some observers have suggested that this arises primarily where children live with adults who are not their biological parents (see The problem of sexual abuse).
This arguably is one of the key issues that should be addressed by the proposed royal commission into child sexual abuse, though it is likely to be kept safely outside the commission’s terms of reference because governments lack the guts to address crimes that involve a significant percentage of the community (see Child Sexual Abuse: Don't Turn Your Back on Millions of Victims).
Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up? - email sent 9/12/12
Re: Abuse inquiry gets maximum legal powers, The Australian, 8-9/12/12
An inquiry into child sexual abuse, even if given ‘maximum legal power’, will be an official cover-up if (as your article reported) its terms of reference are to be set so that it is prevented from dealing with most of the problem.
Governments across Australia have established umpteen inquiries into the sexual abuse of children in ‘services for children’ institutions (eg orphanages and schools) but have always turned a blind eye to what seems to be the vast majority (eg 95%) of such abuse that occurs in family and community contexts (see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion). As the latter suggested, governments’ unwillingness to deal responsibly with child sexual abuse in family / community contexts: (a) parallels the difficulties that the managers of ‘services for children’ institutions have had in dealing with abuse in an institutional context; and (b) makes governments into one of the primary institutions that a serious Royal Commission into inadequate institutional responses to child sexual abuse should investigate.
One must wonder how long this cover-up can continue.
Conducting an Inquisition to Reduce Child Sex Abuse? - email sent 9/1/13
Re: Optimising the inquiry into child sex abuse, Online Opinion, 8/1/13
Your article suggests that an ‘inquisitorial’ approach (similar to the legal techniques used in France and Germany, and to the Fitzgerald inquiry into corruption in Queensland) would be better at discovering and manifesting the truth about child sex crimes than an ‘adversarial’ approach (which is foundational to the legal system that Australia inherited from Britain).
However, I submit that neither would be adequate.
While an ‘adversarial’ approach would have more trouble convicting a few suspected paedophiles, the problem is that there is vastly too much ‘truth’ out there for either an ‘inquisitorial’ or an ‘adversarial’ approach to be practical or effective in discovering it, and thereby significantly reduce the incidence of child sexual abuse.
Your article suggested that: (a) the ‘general truth about child sex crimes is already known’; and (b) the aim of an inquiry should be to examine particular child sex crimes and bring justice to victims by prosecuting perpetrators and those who cover-up such crimes. However the extent of child sexual abuse does not actually seem to be generally recognised, and governments’ attempts to limit the inquiry to offences that have occurred in ‘services for children’ institutions arguably makes governments themselves guilty of covering-up those crimes (eg see Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up?)
Thus, if an inquiry were to presume that the ‘general truth’ about child sexual abuse is already known (or to have narrow terms of reference based on that assumption) and thus simply seek to find some individuals to prosecute, it would make little progress in dealing with the underlying problem. Its challenge would be compounded by the fact that:
There is too much ‘truth’ out there for an inquiry to discover if it focuses on bringing justice to a few victims by prosecuting a hand-full of offenders. A broader focus for the inquiry is outlined in A Strategic Suggestion. The latter argues (amongst other things) for a primary focus on the need to redress the individual moral failings that lead to increasing sexual abuse of children (and other injuries to children). This is the only way that offences and irresponsibility that apparently affect a non-trivial segment of the community can be significantly reduced.
I would be interested in your response to my speculations. I note also that a postscript follows in relation to the impact of inquisitorial-style investigations in Queensland.
PS: There is a need for caution about using inquisition-style investigations to discover ‘truth’. For example the late-1980s Fitzgerald Inquiry into corruption in Queensland led to the discovery of some of the ‘truth’ about problems in Queensland’s system of government. But:
A key point to recognise is that there are limits to what can be achieved by any inquiry.
Child Sex Abuse: What About the 99% - email sent 12/1/13
Judith Ireland and Bianca Hall
Re: “Too many blind to 'vile crime' of child sex abuse: PM”, National Times, 11/1/13
You reported that the prime minister said that too many people turn a blind eye to the shocking crime of child sexual abuse.
There is no doubt that many prefer to ‘avert their eyes’. This is well illustrated by the widespread support you reported for a Royal Commission that is to consider only what ‘services for children’ institutions (eg schools / orphanages) could do to better respond to the sexual abuse cases that affect children in their care. This is a clear cover-up as only (say) 1% of child sexual abuse cases may arise in 'service for children' institutions (see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion for the source of that estimate).
While it might be that as many as 5% of child sexual abuse cases arise in ‘services for children’ institutions (who really knows?), the moral breakdown that gives rise to these offences and the effect on victims are similar in all contexts. Why ‘avert our eyes’ from the offences affecting the other 95-99%?
Dealing with the whole of the problem (eg as proposed in A Strategic Suggestion) would be a bit embarrassing. It would, for example, probably require Australia’s churches to face up to the fact that they have not maintained the moral foundations that Australia’s liberal legal and governmental institutions require (ie ethical concern for others in the hearts of individuals). None-the-less it would seem to be more constructive than the proposed Royal Commission, as: (a) institutional managers, courts and governments can do little to prevent or deal with offences that are almost always kept behind closed doors; and (b) the more authorities are required to inquire and intervene in individuals’ private lives the more Australia’s liberal legal and government institutions would be at risk.
An independent inquiry, which addresses the core of the problem, could probably be undertaken relatively quickly and at minimal cost (eg in a spirit of contrition by Australia’s churches).
In response to a copy of the above email Professor Freda Briggs (University of Adelaide), who has a national reputation in the study of child welfare, suggested by email that, irrespective of whether or not family related abuse is considered, the criminal justice system and family courts should be included amongst the institutions to be investigated, as they are part of the problem.
Reducing Child Sex Abuse Mainly Requires Potential Offenders to have a Conscience - email sent 14/1/13
Gemma Daley, Joanna Maher and James Hutchinson
Re: ‘Commission set for child sex crimes’, Financial Review, 12-13/1/13
Your article included an amazing claim by Australia’s prime minister in relation to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse:
It would be very interesting to hear the prime minister’s reasons for her desperate claim, given that the Royal Commission’s terms of reference apparently require it to:
Conclusions from such an inquiry can’t be particularly relevant in dealing with the majority of child sexual abuse that occurs in families or the general community, because in such cases no institution equivalent to an employer would be involved. Also responses to abuse by institutions of any type are limited because (according to those who appear to have studied the community-wide phenomenon) in most cases sexual abuse is not reported – so there is nothing for any external institution to respond to. An observer who has worked with abuse victims pointed out (privately) that reporting is less likely in family situations (where family discord would result from accusing (say) a step-father or an uncle) than where offences by an employee of a relatively-remote ‘services for children’ organisation are alleged.
Thus, while diverse institutions need to respond responsibly when child sexual abuse is alleged, preventing abuse (eg by encouraging potential sex offenders to consult their consciences more than the ‘me generations’ have been expected to do) would seem likely to be more effective in re-creating safe environments for children (eg as suggested in Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion)
Blushing over endorsing homosexual behaviour? - email sent 5/2/13
Your article suggests that those in the UK who opposed legalization of homosexuality in 1966 now blush at the memory, and the same risk faces those who might now oppose same sex marriage.
However I would like to suggest that the issue is a little more complex than your article suggests because of the linkages between the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour and child sexual abuse (see Homophilia: Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour). For example it appears that in many (most?) cases involvement in the ‘gay’ community is a by-product of sexual abuse or neglect as a child – so public endorsement of their homosexual behaviour as adults also constitutes belated endorsement of that childhood abuse / neglect, and is hardly morally defensible.
If, as seems likely, homosexual behaviour is an emotional / addictive affliction in many / most cases, then it makes no more sense to either: (a) try to prevent it by law; or (b) endorse it as a 'right relationship', than would be the case for anorexia nervosa.
The real problem is that the community (at least in Australia) is not yet prepared to face up to the monstrous problem that child sexual abuse has become (eg see Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up?). When this is eventually addressed, its linkage with homosexual behaviour will presumably be publicly explored, and many who have endorsed the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour will have good reason to blush.
Gay Marriage - email sent 6/2/13
Re: Gay marriage: an argument against, Online Opinion, 1/8/12
While your argument in this article is important and valid, I suspect that there are other causes for concern.
In the first place endorsing homosexual behaviour by adults also arguably involves also endorsing the childhood sexual abuse and neglect which seems to be the main factor in the breeding of many (most?) gays – see email reproduced below and Homophilia: Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour. The latter refers also to:
I would be interested in your response to my speculations.
Informed Democratic Debate about Gay Marriage: The Need to End Official Sex Abuse Cover-ups - email sent 3/4/13
Re: No short cuts to gay marriage, The Australian, 3/4/13
Your article suggested that:
However the ‘direction of history’ in relation to gay marriage would probably change, if there was a truly informed democratic debate.
The problem is that there can’t be a realistic debate until there is an end to official cover-ups of the linkages between: (a) child sexual abuse; and (b) the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (which would be raised to a new high by the legalization of gay marriage). Those linkages apparently include (see Homophilia: Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour):
And many credible sources suggest that sexual abuse affects a very significant minority of Australia’s children (see The Problem in About Child Sex Abuse, 2003+). Community leaders appear to be terrified of the implications of the breakdown of morality that this represents. Thus awareness of the real extent of the problem has been suppressed for years, eg by repeatedly investigating the small percentage of cases that arise in church institutions (see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community, 2010).
Another cover-up that will be good for several years in the absence of a public outcry (ie the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse) has now been established by the federal government. Its mandate is again limited to investigating sexual abuse in mainly-services-for-children institutions, which (as suggested in A Strategic Suggestion) is quite inadequate because:
Conducting yet another inquiry into sexual abuse in institutions (and focusing much of that inquiry on church institutions – ie the only institutions that can really do anything about the moral breakdown that widespread sexual abuse in the broader community reflects) must give the majority of Australia’s child sexual abusers a lot of secret satisfaction.
And if, as seems plausible, sexual abuse is a factor in breeding many / most gays, then the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour constitutes belated endorsement of childhood sexual abuse and neglect – and this is hardly morally defensible. No democratic debate about the desirability of gay marriage can be informed as long as these official cover-ups continue.
Earth to David: Sexual Abuse Happens - email sent 21/4/13
Re: Right set to lead gay marital push’, Sunday Mail, 21/4/13
Your article made a joke of the massive problem that child sexual abuse appears to have become in Australia.
Sexual abuse is a very real phenomenon and many credible observers have drawn attention to this fact and to the damage that it often does to affected children (see The Problem of Sexual Abuse). The fact that everyone prefers to turn a blind eye to this (eg by commissioning repeated inquiries into the small percentage of sexual abuse that occurs in institutions) will not make it go away.
And there seem to be very real links with child sexual abuse that would probably make the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour morally indefensible (see Homophilia: The Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour). Whether the right or the left (or the confused majority) take the lead in endorsing gay marriage, they still face the same moral difficulty.
I have no idea whether the ‘slippery slope’ could lead to people marrying their pets. However there is undoubtedly a ‘slippery slope’ which has been leading from the trivialization of apparently minor moral offences to increasingly serious symptoms. For example the trivialization of marriage has perhaps contributed to the widespread incidence of child sexual abuse – noting that some observers seem to believe that abusers are often defactos or step-fathers (ie a big problem may be arising because, after the breakdown and reformation of marriages, children come to live with adults who are not their biological parents). Australians enjoy a liberal environment because it has been able to be assumed that individuals would use their liberty responsibly. But when this is no longer so, liberty itself is at risk (see Erosion of the Moral Foundations of Liberal Institutions).
Personally I don’t find that risk all that funny.
Weakness and Wasting Money in Dealing with Child Sex Abuse - email sent 2/6/13
RE: Millions Better Spent Elsewhere, Sunday Mail, 2/6/13
Your article referred to: problems that the Catholic Church in Victoria has had because of child sexual abuse by its servants; that Church’s estimate that there have been 620 victims over the past 80 years; and the apparent virtual absence of new cases over the past decade.
Your article also referred to the Royal Commission that has been established by the Federal Government to again revisit the problem of child sexual abuse in Catholic and other institutions.
While undoubtedly there were better ways for the Catholic Church to have spent its money than in investigating and dealing with the consequences of child sexual abuse by its servants, I suspect that the Federal Government could be spending its money better by supporting an inquiry into the whole problem of child sexual abuse - rather than into the vanishingly small percentage of cases that have arisen in institutions.
If one takes seriously the estimates by those who have studied child sexual abuse, there are likely to have been more than (say) 500,000 victims in Victoria since the 1950s (see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion for details of that ‘guess-timate’). If so, then the Federal Government is spending a huge amount of money on an inquiry that is dealing with less than 1% of the problem.
Part of the blame for the moral failings that widespread child sexual abuse represents can be attributed to churches – mainly because of the weak messages that have been delivered from their pulpits in recent decades. However the institutions that are probably the greater obstacles to dealing with the massive problem that child sexual abuse represents are governments, the legal profession and the ‘sex abuse industry’ (op cit).
Response to a copy of the above email that was received (2/6/13) from Professor Freda Briggs, University of Adelaide (reproduced with permission):
Exploring Homophilia - email sent 2/8/13
Re: Inside the stained-glass closet: exploring holy homophobia, The Conversation, 2/8/13
Your article provided interesting comments on the Catholic Church’s difficulties in dealing with homosexual issues. However suggesting that homosexuality is just part of a person’s nature seems to fall into the logical fallacy of ‘begging the question’ (ie assuming what needs to be proved).
The problem with all this is that it assumes (in the face of evidence to the contrary) that same-sex attraction is always merely something that is in a person’s nature, and that the public endorsement of homosexual behaviour does not have serious side effects that would make it morally indefensible.
Reasons for suggesting that these assumptions may be false (because of links with child sexual abuse) are outlined in Homophilia: The Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour (2004+). The latter suggests: (a) that sexual abuse and neglect as children seems to be a factor in the breeding of many (most?) gays so public acceptance of later homosexual behaviour constitutes belated endorsement of earlier abuse and neglect; and (b) that the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour facilitates the further sexual abuse of children.
I would be interested in your response to my speculations.
Brisbane Coalition MP to Pressure Abbott into Endorsing and Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse????? - email sent 23/8/13
Re: Brisbane Coalition MP to pressure Abbott into marriage equality, Brisbane Times, 22/8/13
Might I respectfully suggest that when covering debates about what is called ‘marriage equality’ it would be appropriate to not ignore the linkages between the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour and the sexual abuse of children.
Though those linkages are indirect and are not publicly recognised, they imply that the public endorsement of homosexual behaviour (whether through ‘marriage equality’ or otherwise) is not morally defensible. My reasons for suggesting this are outlined in Informed Democratic Debate about Gay Marriage: The Need to End Official Sex Abuse Cover-ups.
Is Any Form of Oppression 'Natural'? - email sent 5/9/13
Archbishop Glenn Davies
Re: Scripture is all Greek to Rudd, The Australian, 4/8/13
You reportedly suggested that Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was ‘profoundly wrong’ in claiming on a recent Q&A program that the Bible treated slavery as a ‘natural condition’ – as it seemed that Mr Rudd was mistakenly quoting Aristotle’s view of that matter.
I should like to draw to your attention that Mr Rudd also seemed to be mistaken in his claim that being ‘gay’ is simply a ‘natural condition’ (ie that from the hour of their birth some are marked out to be ‘gay’).
For many (most?) coming out as ‘gay’ seems to be a consequence of sexual abuse and / or neglect as children. This point is explored in Homophilia: Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour – though whether the percentage that are ‘gay’ because of childhood abuse is (say) 50% or 80% does not seem to have been reliably assessed. Governments have been too fearful of what they might find if they allowed any investigation of the extent and consequences of sexual abuse of children in the general community (eg see Informed Democratic Debate about Gay Marriage: The Need to End Official Sex Abuse Cover-ups).
If being ‘gay’ is often / mostly the result of childhood neglect or abuse, then claiming (as Aristotle said of slavery) that there is nothing wrong (ie that being ‘gay’ is also just a ‘natural condition’) seems morally indefensible.
QUESTIONER: Hi Prime Minister. I'm a pastor of a local church and work for a national Christian radio network. Most of the listeners and callers we have had in our radio station have been saying they won't be voting for you because they are disillusioned because you seem to keep chopping and changing your beliefs just to get a popular vote with regards to things like marriage. Why should we vote for you?
PM: On the question of marriage equality, you are right. I took a position about three, four, five months ago, well before coming back to the prime ministership, because I concluded in my conscience, through an informed conscience and a Christian conscience, it was the right thing to do. Let me tell you why. Number one, I do not believe people when they are born choose their sexuality. They are gay if they are born gay. You don't decide at some later stage in life to be one thing or the other. It is how people are built. Therefore, the idea that this is somehow an abnormal condition is wrong. I don't get that. I think it is a completely ill-founded view. Secondly, if you accept it is natural and normal for someone to be gay because that's the way they are, then it follows from that that I don't think it is right to say that if these two folk here who are in love with each other and are of the same gender should be denied the opportunity for legal recognition of the duration of their relationship by having marriage equality. If you accept - if your starting point is that homosexuality is abnormal - I don't know if that's your view.
HOST: Well, we can go back and ask.
PM: I just need to know.
HOST: We’ll go back to our questioner just quickly to ask what it is that you believe Christians in particular are upset about?
QUESTIONER: I think the thing is that every pastor, we do marriages between husbands and wives, and you know Jesus said a man shall leave his father and mother and be married, and that's the Biblical definition. I just believe in what the Bible says. I'm just curious for you, Kevin, if you call yourself a Christian, why don't you believe the words of Jesus in the Bible?
PM: Well mate if I was going to have that view, The Bible also says that slavery is a natural condition. Because St Paul said in the New Testament, slaves be obedient to your masters. And therefore we should have all fought for the confederacy in the US Civil War. I mean for goodness sake. The human condition and social conditions change. What is the fundamental principle of the New Testament? It is one of universal love. Loving your fellow man. And if we get obsessed with a particular definition of that through a form of sexuality, then I think we are missing the centrality of what the gospel, whether you call it a social gospel, a personal gospel or a spiritual gospel, is all about. And therefore, I go back to my question, if you think homosexuality is an unnatural condition, then frankly I cannot agree with you based on any element of the science. And therefore, if a person's sexuality is as they are made, then you’ve got to ask the second question. Should, therefore, their loving relationships be legally recognised and the conclusion I have reached is that they should. And on the question of chopping and changing, I wrote a 2,000 or 3,000 word essay, stuck it online, months and months and months ago before returning to the prime ministership so everyone would know why I changed my position, the reasons for it. And it was the product of some many months and years of reflection in good Christian conscience.
Same Sex Marriage: Who is Going to Raise the Moral Issues? - email sent 23/10/13
Re: Federal government lodges High Court challenge to ACT same-sex marriage laws, Brisbane Times, 23/10/13
I noted without surprise that your report stated that the “Prime Minister Tony Abbott defended a challenge to ACT same-sex marriage laws as a constitutional matter, not a moral issue”.
This raises the obvious question of who is going to raise the moral questions. It seems very likely that the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (whether through legalizing ‘gay’ marriage or otherwise) is morally indefensible because of it’s apparently links with child sexual abuse. Sexual abuse and neglect as children seems to be a major factor in the breeding of many / most ‘gays’. Moreover public acceptance of homosexual behaviour apparently facilitates the sexual abuse of children. The latter concerns are developed further in Informed Democratic Debate about Gay Marriage: The Need to End Official Sex Abuse Cover-ups.
If a federal government representing political parties all of whose ACT members reportedly voted against the ACT’s same-sex marriage law lacks the guts to publicly confront the moral question (ie the reportedly widespread incidence of child sexual abuse in the Australian community and its links with the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour), then who will?
In response to receiving a copy of the above email, one observer suggested that the present writer could not be serious and should stick to economics.
In reply it was first noted (in a further email of 23/10/13) that:
Then is a further email ('Would you like economics with that', 25/10/13) the present writer suggested that:
In response it was then suggested by that observer that
In reply it was noted (by email of 25/10/13) that:
Sex Abuse Royal Commission Swamped ........
Might I respectfully suggest that there is something weird about your articles on the royal commission on institutional child sexual abuse?
The first pointed to the fact that the royal commission has (or will have) interviews with hundreds of possible victims – and has already recommended police investigations in 44 cases. The second pointed out that the total number of institutional cases could be in the thousands, and also that:
The latter implies that there are millions of victims – so that pretending that the royal commission is making a significant contribution to finding the truth about child sexual abuse in Australia is a joke. It seems likely that only a tiny fraction (eg less than 1%) of sexual abuse occurs in the ‘services for children’ institutions that the royal commission has been politically limited to investigating (see also Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up?).
Your second article (which had a subheading ‘Public hearings into the abuse perpetrated by churches begin today’) started by referring to a girl who was allegedly repeatedly raped by a step father - before being saved by the church. This is arguably pointing to the biggest ‘institutional’ problem – namely that (because almost 50% of marriages break down and new ‘partnerships’ develop, or bad parenting requires fostering) children now often come to live with adults who are not their biological parents and who have unsupervised access to them.
The vast majority of sexual abuse seems to arise in the general community – and the ‘institution’ that probably most needs investigation in relation to this is the family.
Spectacular bungling of child abuse - email sent 12/12/13
Archbishop Mark Coleridge
Re: Archbishop admits ‘spectacular bungling’ of child abuse case, Brisbane Times, 11/12/13
You were quoted as suggesting that: (a) the Catholic Church has bungled in dealing with child sex abuse victims; and (b) you would consider making additional payouts for victims.
However I should like to submit for your consideration that:
Putting an End to Institutional Abuse - email sent 21/2/14
Re: George Pell to be quizzed on abuse defence, The Australian, 20/2/14
Your article raised questions about the ability of the Catholic Church to avoid being sued, or be held liable to pay compensation, for criminal actions (ie child sexual abuse) by their employees. It noted that the Catholic Church is in an unusual position because it does not have a corporate existence and thus does not actually employ clergy – this being the basis of the Church’s so-called ‘Ellis defense’ in relation to sexual abuse cases. Moreover, as your article implied, lawyers are presumably salivating over the fees they might get for pursuing many millions of dollars in additional compensation from the Church should a weakness be identified in that defense.
However, there is a larger question. Why is there a fixation on the tiny fraction of child sexual abuse cases (eg probably less than 1%) that arise in such institutions? Why are the individual moral failings that have given rise to (probably) millions of sexual abuse cases in family contexts (and the few thousand that have arises in institutional contexts) simply put in the ‘too hard’ basket?
This bias towards blaming child services institutions for the problems they have in dealing with sexual abuse by their employees arguably constitutes ‘abuse’ of those institutions by others who desperately want to avoid facing up to the vastly bigger problem. As suggested in Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion (2012), the institutions that most need investigation in relation to their failure to deal with child sexual abuse are: (a) churches because many have not continued to stress the importance of moral individual behaviour; (b) governments who don’t want to face up to the full extent of a problem that plays havoc with large numbers of young lives; (c) the legal fraternity who are apparently only interested if large fees can be earned; and (d) the ‘sex abuse industry’. No one seems to want to get involved in the politically-difficult moral issues that arguably need to be considered (eg the likely role that the widespread breakdown of traditional biological families plays in child sexual abuse in the general community, and the factors that apparently contribute to the accumulation of potential sexual abusers in some institutions).
As Improving Institutional Responses suggested, a new law to protect institutions against compensation claims in relation to sexual abuse offences by their employees (providing the institutions have not been complicit in those offences) would probably do a great deal to reduce the problems that the current royal commission is investigating. Child services institutions would then be able to deal openly with child sexual offences by their employees – without fear of any crippling financial fallout. And other institutions would be forced to face up to the bigger problem. In particular churches would come under pressure to address the apparent widespread moral failing in the general community (and thus strengthen to some extent the decaying foundations of Australia’s liberal legal and governance institutions).
Note [Added later]: The fact that the liability of institutions to pay compensation for sexual abuse by their employees is probably the greatest obstacle to open and constructive institutional responses was clearly illustrated in February 2014 -see below.
Legal Liability: The Main Obstacle to Proper Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse - email sent 23/2/14
Your article reported that insurers for a Catholic School had argued to the Royal Commission that commission hearings related to a paedophile bus driver should be delayed until after civil actions were complete, because making information public through a hearing would potentially alter the outcome of the civil action.
Though there was debate about what had actually happened, this concern illustrates to perfection the main obstacle to open and constructive institutional responses to child sexual abuse – ie the fact that institutions that deal with children are expected to pay compensation for sexual abuse by their employees.
The need for a much broader approach to the massive problem of child sexual abuse was argued in Putting an End to Institutional Abuse.
Your article provided useful support.
What we are Doing to Victims is Unchristian - email sent 29/3/14
Re: What we did to victim was unchristian: Pell, The Australian, 27/3/14
Your article noted that a former Catholic Archbishop of Sydney had argued that the church had been ‘unchristian’ in its dealings with a sex abuse victim because (ie effect) large numbers of compensation claims could destroy the church financially.
This is getting close to the core of the problem that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is investigating. Institutions have problems in dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse because they can be held financially liable for the moral offences of individuals who are supposed to act on their behalf in helping children. The problem of inadequate institutional responses could be solved with the stroke of a pen – ie through a law which: (a) recognised that sexual abuse is an individual moral failing; and (b) prevented damages’ claims against institutions for sexual abuse by individuals – unless the institution itself was in some way complicit in that abuse.
However this would do almost nothing to deal with the major problem of child sexual abuse. Only the tiny percentage of victims who suffer sexual abuse in the care of institutions that can be sued currently receive attention. The community (as represented by institutions such as churches, governments, the legal fraternity and the sex abuse ‘industry) is simply refusing to acknowledge the extent of the problem (see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion).
What we are doing to victims is unchristian.
Would Taxing Churches Help? - email sent 15/6/14
Re: ‘Former Lord Mayor calls for all churches to pay taxes, and donate it to victims of child abuse’, Sunday Mail, 15,/6/14
Your article highlighted suggestions by a former Brisbane Lord Mayor (Jim Soorley) that churches should pay taxes for their ‘sins’ (and because some have significant assets). He had also suggested that this money should be directed towards victims of crime (including victims of child abuse by clergy).
With respect to Mr Soorley, his suggestion is somewhat ridiculous. Individuals commit ‘sins’. Institutions do not commit ‘sins’. Many inquiries in recent years have shown that institutions such as churches have great difficulty in dealing with the ‘sin’ of child sexual abuse by their employees and associates. However most of those difficulties presumably primarily arise because of the legal expectation that the institutions should have to pay damages for the ‘sins’ committed by their employees / associates. That legal expectation creates moral hazard for institutional managers, and if it was outlawed most of the institutional problem should disappear.
However there is a darker side to the fact that governments have only set up inquiries into the difficulties that institutions have in dealing with the child abuse ‘sins’ of their employees.
There has not yet been an inquiry into child sexual abuse itself. And such abuse appears to be widespread (eg affecting about 15-25% of children) – see The Problem of Sexual Abuse. Focusing on the problems that institutions have in dealing with the tiny (eg 1-5%) of abuse that is committed by their employees / associates is a simple cover-up (see Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up?). Suggestions that churches should be regarded as a significant source of child sexual abuse or should pay taxes / rates in order to compensate the victims of such abuse is out of touch with reality. A serious inquiry into child sexual abuse itself is desperately needed to clear up public misunderstandings of what is going on (eg see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion).
However whether or not churches with large accumulated wealth should pay taxes or rates is a different question. There is a need to look at this from a broad perspective. As Archbishop Coleridge pointed out, many churches play major roles in providing social services, which would otherwise be a cost to government. However this is only a part of the role that churches play.
Widespread adherence to Christianity in the community has been the foundation on which it has been possible to build Australia’s liberal social, economic and political institutions. Human elites have never had any difficulty establishing illiberal institutions – and such influences are still very active in the world (eg see The Resurgence of Ancient Authoritarianism in China). The fact that only (say) 25% of the community now profess allegiance to the church has eroded the foundations of Australia’s liberal institutions (see Erosion of the Moral Foundations of Liberal Institutions). The (say) 25% who now adhere to churches need a bit of help if the burden is to continue to be carried.
If the foundations of Australia’s liberal institutions are to be secured, the community needs to take this issue seriously (see Religious Education: The Need for a Bigger Picture View and It's Time to Expel Religious Naivety from Universities ). It is hard to see how requiring churches to pay taxes and rates would provide much help in overcoming this problem.
Support for the Consequences of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Neglect? - email sent 16/7/14
Re: Marriage equality wins support of two out of three, The Australian, 16/7/14
Your article noted the high level of support that the Australian community seems to have for the ‘gay’ lifestyles that in many / most cases seem to be a consequence of childhood sexual abuse or neglect (see A Comment on Causality).
The community also seems to have a profound aversion to any examination of its sexual abuse of children.
Umpteen inquiries have been held into the understandable difficulties that institutional managements have in dealing with the sexual abuse of children by their employees or associates. But the (perhaps) 95-99% of sexual abuse cases that seem to occur in the community (and which presumably have a role in breeding a substantial percentage of ‘gays’) does not seem to cause sufficient concern to generate any inquiry (see The problem of sexual abuse and Sex Abuse Royal Commission Swamped …. While Dealing with the Few Thousands out of Millions of Victims).
The community’s sense of moral responsibility is not inspiring. A serious inquiry into child sexual abuse is long overdue (see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion, 2012). Such a review could usefully also address the consequences of childhood sexual abuse (which at times seems to involve becoming ‘gay’ and thus being encouraged to seek ‘marriage equality’). The problem is (probably) not that all ‘gays’ were the victims of abuse or neglect, but that the fact that the majority probably were has been concealed behind a wall of political correctness.
The Need for a Fresh Look at Abuse Cover-up - email sent 25/10/14
Right Revd Bill Ray
Re: Bishop Bill Ray calls for fresh look at abuse cover-up , The Australian, 25/10/14
You reportedly “called on Australia’s royal commission into child abuse to hold public hearings and use its special powers to investigate the cover-up of the rape and beatings of young boys at a north Queensland boarding school in the 1960s”.
Might I respectfully suggest that what is really needed is an inquiry into the cover-up of child abuse (eg by governments) that is reflected in the fact that this royal commission (like many earlier inquires) has only been allowed / required to deal with the very small percentage (eg 5%) of child sexual abuse that occurs in ‘institutions’, and even there only in terms of problems in the ways those institutions have responded. My reasons for suggesting this are outlined in Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up? (2012); Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion (2012); Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally (2010); and The Problem of Sex Abuse (2003+).
There has long been an urgent need for an inquiry into the whole phenomenon of child sex abuse. But governments have been afraid to ‘go there’ - presumably because of concern about what this would reveal about community moral standards.
Abuse Seems to be a Major Obstacle to Publicly Endorsing Homosexual Behaviour - email sent 26/10/14
Bill Shorten, MP
Re: Gay marriage tops Shorten’s Christian Lobby list , The Australian, 25/10/14
Might I respectfully suggest that ‘equality’ in relation to marriage is not an appropriate way to consider this issue. There is reasonable evidence that: (a) in many / most cases, those who become involved in ‘gay’ relationships do so as a consequence of abuse or neglect as children; and (b) the public endorsement that homosexual behaviour is OK facilitates abuse of children by pedophiles. My reasons for suggesting this are outlined in Homophilia: Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour (2004+).
Irrespective of the intrinsic morality of homosexual behaviour, its public endorsement (which ‘gay’ marriage would raise to a new level) seems morally in defensible because of these generally-neglected links with child abuse and neglect. This point was developed further in Same-sex Civil Unions: Endorsing Child Abuse? (2011).
You are Asking a Good Question - email sent 7/11/14
Dr Marcus Waters
Re: Breaking the silence about white Australian men’s abuse of children, The Conversation, 6/11/14
I should like to try to add value to your observations about the silence that is the primary response to child sexual abuse in the general Australian community.
My Interpretation of your article: Child sexual abuse is rife in every part of Australian community – but only sometimes is colour mentioned. I have experienced this in both my aboriginal and non-indigenous families. Headlines often refer to indigenous sex abuse but never to colour in relation to white abusers. The Royal Commission on institutionalised child sex abuse is shining a light on dark corners of the systematic abuse of children. In most cases abusers have been upstanding male community leaders (ie old white men). Sexual abuse is undoubtedly part of white Australian culture. Australians are involved in sex tourism – but this is only part of the problem. Studies of sexual activity amongst Australian teenagers shows that half of Australian girls have had intercourse before the end of year 10 – when many are under-age. Why is this not studied in non-indigenous communities? Those who suffer the worst abuse are often in situations of helplessness or poverty – and this is a factor in aboriginal communities. In an aboriginal environment people are taught to care for one another no matter how bad the harm some in the family did to others. But in my white family there was only silence and denial. What would happen if white Australian children, women and men spoke about the hidden abuse in their families. If they did so the statistics on suffering would send shockwaves through the country.
Some observations which parallel yours about the apparent extent of the problem are in The problem of sexual abuse (2003+).
Observations about the ‘cover up’ that seems to occur are in Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally (2010); Attention to Child Abuse is Long Overdue (2012); Child Sexual Abuse: Kicking the Can Down the Road? (2012); Child Sexual Abuse: Don't Turn Your Back on Millions of Victims (2012); Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up? (2012); Child Sex Abuse: What About the 99% (2013); Weakness and Wasting Money in Dealing with Child Sex Abuse (2013); Spectacular bungling of child abuse (2013); and The Need for a Fresh Look at Abuse Cover-up (2014).
Some suggestions about who should be held responsible for the community’s failure to fully address the problem are in Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion (2012).
I would be interested in your response to my speculations
Most Child Sexual Abuse Does Not Occur in 'Institutions' - email sent 6/3/15
Re: Three decades too late, tough talk on child abuse pointless , The Australian, 6/3/15
Your article suggested that it was pointless for the British Prime Minister to now declare that sexual exploitation of children is a ‘national threat’. You suggested instead that:
“Had a Downing Street summit been held in, say, 1970, then perhaps we could have started the long haul through the institutions: churches, youth organisations, boarding schools, music schools, care homes and myriad other places where children were being sexually abused by people who weren’t their close family”.
Available indications in Australia (which is presumably similar to the UK) are that the vast majority (eg 95%) of child sexual abuse arises in family contexts rather than in in ‘institutions’ (seeThe problem of sexual abuse). This has long been covered up by an official focus on the small minority of cases that arise in ‘institutions’. If the British Prime Minister is now recognizing sexual abuse as a ‘national threat’ it is presumably because he believes that such cover-ups are dangerous and he is (finally) willing to confront the full extent of the problem.
This is certainly decades too late – but it is still necessary.
Ethical Reasons for Opposing the Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour - email sent 20/4/15
Re: An ethical case for marriage equality in Australia, The Conversation, 20/4/15
I should like to suggest for your consideration that the question that your article poses (ie whether ‘marriage equality’ is ethical) is merely part of a much larger question about the morality of publicly endorsing homosexual behaviour generally.
Reasons that the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour (of which same-sex ‘marriage’ would be a manifestation) is not morally defensible were suggested in Informed Democratic Debate about Gay Marriage: The Need to End Official Sex Abuse Cover-ups (2013). The latter referred to:
Some degree of realism about the context to the same-sex ‘marriage’ debate is long overdue. The loss of individual moral responsibility (of which widespread child sexual abuse is merely one example) is posing serious threats to Australia’s liberal traditions and institutions (see Erosion of the Moral Foundations of Liberal Institutions and Why Not Write About the Consequences if God's Houses Empty).
I would be interested in your response to my speculations
Same Sex Marriage: What if Being Gay is Usually Not OK? - email sent 1/6/15
Hon Mr Bill Shorten, MP
Re: ABC Breakfast: Marriage Equality; National Security, 27/5/15
You we quoted as suggesting that, if being gay is not wrong, then same sex marriage should be supported.
I would be interested to know, if (contrary to your assertion) being gay was usually not OK, would your view on same-sex marriage change?
It seems likely that being gay is usually not OK for reasons outlined in Homophilia: Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour. In particular:
Also longitudinal studies in the US and New Zealand suggest that something like 80% of boys and girls who are same-sex attracted become opposite-sex attracted as adults (Homophilia op cit). There does not yet seem to have been any study of what damage could be done to those on a path to sexual normality if their transitory childhood preference is encouraged by governments.
There is a clear need for a serious investigation of whether being gay is actually OK and whether it is morally appropriate for political leaders to actively encourage homosexual behaviour.
There has also been a clear need for a real examination of the closely-related problem of child sexual abuse (see The Problem of Child Sexual Abuse) and of numerous other social pathologies that have resulted from a decline in individual moral responsibility (see Erosion of the Moral Foundations of Liberal Institutions). The latter drew attention, for example, to the widespread breakdown of traditional marriages and the adverse effects this has on children (such as: (a) the severe difficulties that often confront children in single parent families; and (b) the higher incidence of child sexual abuse that seems to arise when children live with an adult who is not their biological parent). However governments in Australia (as elsewhere) have been reluctant to confront such social pathologies despite their adverse effects on many individuals and the community generally (eg see Child Sex Abuse: What About the 99%).
There are currently populist (ie trendy but not necessarily well informed) calls for increasing social ‘equality’ by legalising same sex marriage.
However, rather than merely acceding to this ‘noise’, it would seem more responsible to commission an investigation into this issue – because of its relationship with social ‘pathologies’ that the general community is not yet willing to face up to (eg the extent of child sexual abuse in the general community). Such an investigation of same-sex marriage would also make it possible to take account of side-effects. Gay-marriage opponents in the US State of Massachusetts (which legalized same-sex marriage in 2004) certainly seem to believe that there have been many adverse unintended consequences for the community as a whole (eg see ‘What same-sex ‘marriage’ has done to Massachusetts’, 2012).
Notes added later: Dysfunctional outcomes have also been perceived in Canada (see Singh L. Same-sex “Marriage” and the Persecution of Christians in Canada, Crisis Magazine, 28/5/15). One core issue seems to be that political approval of same-sex marriage seems to make it illegal to dis-approve. Thus (say) teachers who believe that being gay is not necessarily OK or that marriage should be between a man and a woman could be sacked for refusing to teach what they believed to be untrue. There would clearly be a need in any legislation related to same-sex marriage to protect conscientious objectors from having to do things they believe to be morally wrong.
In Tasmania a Catholic Archbishop was threatened with being taken before an anti-discrimination body for teaching what he believes about marriage (ie that it involves a biological sexual union of a man and woman that can produce children - a view that most people in the world share) on the grounds that this involved inciting hatred against those who experience same-sex attraction. If same-sex marriage were to become legal, would it be illegal to teach Catholic precepts? 
I would be interested in your response to my speculations
Sex Education in Schools: Addressing the Really Difficult Issues - email sent 4/7/15
Re: Rational, modern sex education is a must for all Aussie kids, The Conversation, 3/7/15
I should like to endorse your suggestion that better information about sexual issues is needed in Australia. However, while better information is needed in schools, the need for better information is not confined to schools.
My Interpretation of your article: A Victorian school recently allowed a Christian group to teach sex education using scientifically dubious / potentially offensive materials. Rational discussion of sex and sexuality is often hard in schools. The Australian National Curriculum sought uniform approaches to this. The Australian Curriculum Health and Physical Education addresses biology, gender and sexuality in relation to health / well-being and physical activity. There are some barriers to consistent messages. There are laws that make it illegal to discriminate against people – though religious organisations can discriminate on the basis of a person’s religious beliefs or activity, sex, sexual orientation, lawful sexual activity, marital status, parental status or gender identity providing doing so conforms with their religion. Thus myths can be presented as facts to scare people away from sex outside marriage. It is important that young people be appropriately educated about sexuality / sex / gender (eg because of risks with sexually-transmitted diseases and their need to make informed choices) . Australia is struggling with issues such as violence against women (largely by men) and high levels of domestic violence, sexual assault / harassment. It is still challenging to conceive of two persons of the same sex marrying. Progress requires rational, honest and accurate education. Religious exemptions in the anti-discrimination acts may need to be ended.
The reluctance in Australia to face up to the reality of difficult sexual issues is most strongly demonstrated in relation to the sexual abuse of children. There are reasonable indications that something like 12% (for boys) and 25% (for girls) of the children receiving sex education in schools will have been (or be being) subjected to some form of sexual abuse (see diverse sources suggesting this conclusion in The problem of sexual abuse). And there is a massive resistance in the community to facing up to the extent of the problem (eg see Tactics used in covering up sexual abuse of children in the community generally, Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Another Official Cover-up?, Child Sex Abuse: What About the 99%). The vast majority of sexual abuse seems to occur in the general community – and yet official inquiries have been limited to the tiny percentage of cases that arise in ‘institutions’ (eg schools, orphanages). Moreover, according to some observers, such abuse is heavily associated with situations where children come to live with adults who are not their biological parents – as a by-product of the widespread breakdown of traditional marriages in recent decades and the formation of new relationships.
Clearly, given the significant percentage of children affected, school education programs related to sex and sexuality need to pay attention to the sexual abuse phenomenon – both in terms of: (a) ensuring that students understand the consequences for victims (to discourage future abuse); and (b) providing a path for victims to seek support. If schools started to do this, then perhaps governments would then be forced to also face up to the issue.
Other sexuality issues that schools need to ensure that children understand (for reasons suggested in Same Sex Marriage: What if Being Gay is Usually Not OK? and Public Acceptance of Homosexual Behaviour) are that:
For these reasons schools need to make children aware that questions related to homosexuality are extremely complex. If schools started to do this, then perhaps governments would also be forced to face up to the issue.
I would be interested in your response to my speculations
Thank you for your email.
I find it increasingly difficult to comprehend how any religious institution can claim the moral high ground in issues related to sex, gender and sexuality in light of the revelations of child sexual abuse that have long been known but only recently gained any significant government or media attention.
However, I do not want to confuse past or even current sexual abuse with sex education. These are two entirely separate issues, in many ways. I do believe it is child abuse to perpetuate misinformation about sex and sexuality education and to also perpetuate the belief that female sexuality is dangerous or 'adhesive'. I also think it is morally bankrupt to ignore same-sex attraction in sex education. That homosexuality is still conceived as abnormal and that this myth is continued in some school education programs is abhorrent to me.
I believe in a consistent approach to sex education that promotes choice, celebrates diversity and enables all young people to make informed choices about their sexuality and how and when they choose to express it.
I am saddened that our governments allow discriminatory legislation to continue that prevents some young people from being provided with information about sex and sexuality that is free from religious subjectivity, however well intended. I am also saddened that our current federal government feels it necessary to make marriage equality elusive, a distraction I recall the PM labelling it, when there are so many young (and not so young) people who perceive that message as being that non-heterosexuality is abnormal.
I do hope John I have answered your question.
Email reply to David Rhodes sent 5/7/15
Thanks for your answer to my email. If you have no objection I will add your comments to my web-site (ie following Sex Education in Schools: Addressing the Really Difficult Issues).
Unfortunately your comments did not seem to address the issue that I had raised concerning: (a) the widespread incidence of sexual abuse of children in the general community; (b) the cover-ups of this that have been achieved by umpteen official inquiries only into the difficulties that institutional managers have in dealing with the relatively small number of cases of abuse perpetrated by their employees / associates; and (c) the need for schools to make children aware of the implications of this phenomenon (eg because: many will be struggling with such abuse or its consequences and need help; and child sexual abuse implies that issues related to homosexuality are anything but straight forward).
Saying the sexual abuse should not be mentioned in a school sex education context seems to me to be inadequate considering that huge numbers of children have presumably been affected by such abuse, and need to understand the consequences and implications.
There is no doubt, as you suggest, that religious institutions can’t claim the high ground in relation to sex, gender and sexuality. In recent decades (despite Matthew 19:3-9) churches, just as much as everyone else, have turned a blind eye to the widespread breakdown of traditional biological families and to the widespread incidence of child sexual abuse which seems likely (to at least some extent) to be a consequence (see Improving Institutional Responses to Child Abuse: A Strategic Suggestion, 2012). It was only very recently that the Catholic Church in Australia publicly acknowledged the extent of child sexual abuse in the general community. However in doing so it seems to be well ahead of almost everyone else. In the UK child sexual abuse has reportedly recently been officially acknowledged as a ‘national threat’ - yet there has been no such enlightened response from governments in Australia. And a prominent advocate of same-sex marriage with whom I had recent communication was anything but willing to consider the reasonable grounds that exist for suspecting that same-sex attraction is often (though not always) a consequence of sexual abuse as a child.
Same Sex Marriage Debate: Protecting the Rights of Children and Educators - email sent 12/8/15
Re: Same-sex marriage: a law that protects the rights of all parties, The Australian, 8/8/15
Your article suggested that ensuring religious freedom in relation to marriage would enable a law to be drafted that provided for same sex marriage without damaging anyone’s human rights.
My Interpretation of your article: A law can be designed to protect the rights of all to avoid distracting / divisive debate about same sex marriage. Two fundamental rights could be affected by a change (equality before the law and religious freedom). Senator Bernardi said that ‘marriage is not a right’ and this is partly correct. When governments license marriage, principles of human equality before the law favour including same sex couples. The alternative is for governments to license civil unions and leave marriage to churches. But civil unions are seen as inferior, and 73% of marriages are not in churches. However religious freedom must also be protected – to ensure that any law does not become a Trojan horse for enforcing anti-religious secularism. But religious Australians must also allow same-sex couples to have a civil marriage. The impact on religious freedom must also be considered in drafting such a law (eg by separating the notion of civil and religious marriage). The former could be defined as a union of two people and the latter as a union between a man and a woman. This would ensure that presenting a religious position would be consistent with the law. Similar freedom of conscience would also be needed for those who perform weddings and provide services to them. Government ministers would provide funding from time to time to promote both forms of marriage. Those who object to any particular form of marriage would need to be consistent about doing so. Same-sex coupes would be free to marry while others were free to define marriage in accordance with their faith or conscience. The alternative is a protracted and divisive debate.
However, while ensuring freedom of conscience for marriage celebrants and service providers is a critical issue, these are not the only groups whose rights would need legal protection. Schools have to teach children about sex and family relationships, and children’s rights as well as the rights of teachers who instruct them would also need consideration.
The protection of children’s rights would be particularly important because very large numbers of children are apparently subjected to sexual abuse – and that abuse has complex relationships with the public acceptance of homosexual behaviour. My reasons for suggesting this are outlined in Sex Education in Schools: Addressing the Really Difficult Issues. Some depth of research about the latter would be essential to establish a reliable basis for future school education about sex and family relationships.
And in countries / states in North America where same-sex marriage has been legalised it seems that teachers who have conscientious objections to teaching about this have been abused. Thus freedom of conscience for schools (and the teachers who operate within them) would be as important as that of marriage celebrants and service providers.
Same Sex Marriage Debate: Protecting the Rights of Children - email sent 13/8/15
Ms Sophie York
I noted a recent suggestion by the Sydney Morning Herald’s James Robertson that:
"Marriage Alliance believes the rights of children are being subjugated by arguments about equality between gay and heterosexual adults."
In relation to this Same Sex Marriage Debate: Protecting the Rights of Children and Educators may be of interest. A significant yet-to-date-entirely-neglected ‘underwater’ part of the ‘iceberg’ relates to the relationships that seem to exist with the widespread sexual abuse of children because: (a) the latter is facilitated by the view that ‘being homosexual is always OK’; (b) childhood abuse and neglect seems to be a significant contributor to the emergence of same-sex attraction.
Would A Plebiscite on Same Sex Marriage Abuse Children's Rights? - email sent 15/9/15
RE: A plebiscite on same-sex marriage would be inconsistent with children’s rights, The Conversation, 14/9/15
I should like to endorse your conclusion that a plebiscite on same sex marriage could abuse some children’s rights. But the biggest group whose rights would be abused would not be those your article identified ( ie children who live with same-sex couples or identify as LGBTIQ).
The rights of huge numbers of children would be abused if they were taught (as your article suggested) that being ‘gay’ is always OK as part of a process of affirming same-sex marriage.
My Interpretation of your article: The Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs is inquiring into a possible plebiscite on same sex marriage. However a plebiscite is unnecessary as the parliament has the power to allow same-sex couples to marry. A popular vote would be contrary to human rights – especially the rights of children. The Convention on the Rights of the Child requires prime consideration to be given to children’s interests. Two groups of children need special consideration – namely those being raised by same-sex couples and those who identify as LGBTIQ. The former group would be stressed by telling them that their parents are not normal. And LGBTIQ children can also be hurt. LGBTIQ people have poorer mental health and higher suicide rates than others. Younger LBT people have much higher levels of psychological distress than others – directly linked to discrimination. It is thus inappropriate to proceed with a plebiscite that would allow attacks on LGBTIQ people. The debate on same sex marriage must be conducted in federal parliament.
By far the biggest group of children whose rights need to be protected are those who are subject to sexual abuse. The numbers involved are orders of magnitude greater than the few whose abuse in institutions has been the limit to date of Australia’s numerous official inquiries (see The Problem of Child Sexual Abuse). One reason that their rights need to be protected by balanced education about homosexuality is that the public acceptance of homosexuality has been credibly suggested by a recognized national expert to allow some sex abuse victims to be convinced that what is being done to them is OK because the way their bodies respond means that they must be homosexual – and that is OK. And it seems that many victims don’t discover that they were being misled until years of distress later.
There are complex issues related to homosexuality that have been ignored because of community and political reluctance to deal seriously with the true extent of child sexual abuse (eg see Sex Education in Schools: Addressing the Really Difficult Issues). As another example, it is beyond belief that sexual abuse as children would not at times affect a victim’s perception of their sexuality, and (though the extent of this is uncertain) its seems likely that many / most adults involved in homosexual behaviour do so because they were subject to abuse as children (see A Comment on Causality). The reason that people who identify as LGBTIQ report poor mental health and high suicide rates may not simply be that they are criticised for their perceived sexuality.
Until these likely complexities are investigated through publicly accessible research, neither a plebiscite nor a parliamentary debate would be able to properly determine an appropriate response to the same-sex marriage proposal. Any process for dealing with this issue that does not explicitly consider the child sex abuse dimension would be anything but compatible with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Rather it would probably just make life easier for sex abusers.
National Redress Scheme for Just a Tiny Fraction of Sex Abuse Survivors?? - email sent 24/9/15
Professor Kathleen Daly
Re: Report makes the case for a national redress scheme for sex abuse survivors , The Conversation, 24/9/15
Your article highlighted some of the practical aspects of the proposal (by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse) for a national ‘redress’ arrangement.
However, while removing the possibility of direct compensation claims against institutions would undoubtedly eliminate the greatest obstacle to effective institutional responses to sex abuse allegations, it surely raises a bigger issue. Why would those who were the victims of the tiny fraction of child sex abuse cases that arise in institutions have a national redress entitlement that is not available to such victims more generally?
Child sexual abuse in various forms has apparently become a widespread phenomenon (see The Problem of Sexual Abuse) and the vast majority of cases arise in the general community, rather than in ‘institutions’. There have probably been millions of victims (not just the tens of thousands your article mentioned) and it is hard to claim that the harm suffered by, and thus the need for redress, would be any greater for those who suffered sexual abuse in institutions.
As with other social dysfunctions that result from individual moral irresponsibility (eg domestic violence and many others), the emphasis surely needs to shift from what governments can do (eg by programs to supervise potential offenders and / or help victims) onto encouraging the innate individual moral responsibility that is necessary for a society that wants to enjoy, and benefit from, liberal legal and government institutions (see Eroding the Moral Foundations of Australia’s Liberal Institutions).
I would be interested in your response to my speculations