JOHN Clifton (The Courier, Wednesday, March 30) asks why the majority of child abuse victims seem to have been overlooked by the prominent people who spoke and acted on behalf of the group who recently travelled to Rome.
What is needed to gain such obvious support is a trigger such as that provided by Cardinal George Pell when he was unable to travel to Ballarat to give evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Sexual Abuse.
Some of the remaining 96.5 per cent will have been helped by actions and recommendations of the above Royal Commission.
Unfortunately, the Family Court is not included in the latter's inquiries despite being a major contributor to child abuse.
Many, including the director of Bravehearts, a national child protection agency based in Queensland, have sought its inclusion.
Examples of harmful determinations of the Family Court are given on the Bravehearts website http://www.bravehearts.org.au/pages/kids-remain-at-risk-if-royal-commission-omits-fami.php.
The only reason the Family Court is not included is the fear of publicity about its practices and procedures which are extremely adversarial.
It is also very expensive and cases can be so protracted that they cause further abuse of the children concerned and of those who try to help them.
There are also severe restrictions on what can legally be reported about Family Court proceedings.
So, John Clifton, a trigger to bring about action is needed.
I can think of two possibilities:
1. A nationwide petition to the Prime Minister and the Attorney General to set up a separate Royal Commission to deal with all forms of child abuse in non-institutional (that is mainly family) settings. This will necessarily include the Family Court and those who work within it or are associated with it, such as judges, lawyers, psychologists and social workers.
All Family Court practitioners have legal immunity and are therefore not directly accountable to the Court's clients. The apparent provision for appeals is largely illusory.
2. Another possible trigger for intervention by people influential enough to make a difference, would be if a full report of a current, ongoing but unresolved Family Court case were to be published in a newspaper.
Other The Courier readers may have better suggestions.
- Val McCallum, Alfredton
TREASURER Tim Pallas says Victoria's 9 per cent share of federal infrastructure funding is "a rip off" because "we represent 25 per cent of the Australian population".
So, why then, in his first budget, did Tim Pallas provide just 2.9 per cent of the state's infrastructure funding to regional Victoria?
Regional Victoria is home to 25 per cent of the state's population, just as Victoria is home to 25 per cent of the Australian population. But when he's dishing out the money, Tim Pallas is more than happy to "rip off" country Victorians.
Look no further than the Port of Melbourne sale for another example. Tim Pallas and the city-centric Andrews Labor Government promised just $200 million - around 3 per cent of the sale proceeds - for regional Victoria.
It was only through strong negotiations by the Liberal-Nationals Coalition that we have secured an additional 10 per cent - or around $700 million - of the sale proceeds.
The Andrews Labor Government is all talk and no action when it comes to providing a fair share of funding for Victorians.
Instead of continuing this hypocrisy by attacking the federal government, perhaps Tim Pallas should start focusing on his own budget and provide regional Victorians with a fair share in 2016/17.
- Peter Walsh, The Nationals leader
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