Monday, June 26, 2006

Politicians from Australia's state and federal governments are meeting in Canberra to discuss ways to combat child abuse in Aboriginal communities

Phil Mercer:

The conference was called after claims that very young children had been raped and murdered in indigenous settlements.

The problems have proved too much of a challenge for successive governments.

It seems that no matter what the politicians have done or how much money they have spent, very little seems to have changed.

Aborigines are still confronted by disadvantage at almost every turn - they die younger than their non-indigenous counterparts and suffer far higher rates of substance abuse, unemployment and imprisonment.

Details emerged last month of horrific attacks on children.

A four-year-old girl drowned while being raped by a teenager who had been sniffing petrol at an Aboriginal settlement in central Australia.

In other cases, two infants - including a seven-month-old baby - were sexually assaulted by adult men while their mothers were elsewhere drinking alcohol.

Gang violence in the largest indigenous community in the Northern Territory prompted calls for hundreds of residents to be relocated to special camps.

Representatives from Australia's state, territory and federal governments hope to develop a national action plan that will bring about lasting change.

There is a widespread feeling that a fresh approach to Aboriginal disadvantage is needed.

The hard part, of course, is finding an effective antidote to the problems.

Many indigenous leaders do not believe that this summit in Canberra will achieve that.

It is clear that the way forward will be painful for everyone involved.

Windschuttle's words twisted as the left insists he is racist

Three generations of one family abused


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