The Children's Rights Commissioner is calling for a national focus on the needs of children affected by domestic violence, with new data showing one in 12 people have experienced physical abuse by a family member as a child.
The Children's Rights Report being released today found one in every 28 people had also experienced sexual abuse as a child, while a further 23 per cent of children have witnessed violence against their mother.
"You can think about an average class of teenagers, that's at least four or five kids in every class that have either witnessed or experienced violence as direct victims," Commissioner Megan Mitchell said.
She said too often children who live in violent households are the silent, forgotten and invisible victims.
"People would be shocked at the statistics about how many victims of physical and sexual violence there are of children," she said.
· One in every 12 people has been physically abused by a family member as a child.
· One in every 28 people has also experienced sexual abuse as a child.
· 23 per cent of children have witnessed violence against their mother.
Ms Mitchell said family violence can have a devastating and long lasting impact.
"We know that early exposure to family violence can have lifelong implications in terms of physical and mental health, substance abuse, employment, capacity to form healthy relationships," she said.
"But we also know that family violence can manifest itself negatively in child development, and has been directly linked to a range of mood and personality disorders, impaired cognitive functioning and learning anti-social and aggressive behaviour.
"These are not the conditions for children to thrive.
"At the end of the day as adults, I think we have to take accountability for our behaviour and its impact on children. This, for me, must be a national priority."
Among the recommendations is a call for pregnant women to be routinely asked by health professionals whether they are experiencing domestic violence.
"We know pregnancy is a time of heightened risk for violence and we really need to be increasing the surveillance and support during that time," Ms Mitchell said.
Ms Mitchell said family violence against young people is an issue that is not fully understood or properly documented.
She said the children are often neglected by the system.
Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek.
"Children kind of fall through the gaps and they're a bit lost."They're not the focus of the domestic violence system primarily," she said.
"They tend to get lost in family court proceedings, or they might have a response from the child protection system that, perversely, could remove them from the protecting parent.
"And all of these systems struggle to talk to each other and intersect with each other in ways that are helpful for the safety and wellbeing of the child.
"So we really need a national focus on the needs of children, a national systemic focus on the needs of children affected by family violence."
Royal Commission reconvenes (from the ABC Online News website)
The second part of public hearings into child sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy within Ballarat institutions begins in Melbourne today , ( Unfortunetly not back in Ballarat) culminating in evidence from Australia’s most senior Catholic and the Vatican’s secretary for the economy in Rome, George Pell.
The first part of the hearings was heard in Ballarat in May, when the commission heard allegationsthat Pell tried to bribe a child sex abuse victim, David Ridsdale, to keep quiet about his molestation at the hands of his uncle and then priest, Gerald Francis Ridsdale.
Gerald Ridsdale committed more than 130 offences against children as young as four between the 1960s and 1980s, including while working as a school chaplain at St Alipius boys’ school in Ballarat, the royal commission into institutional responses into child sexual abuse has previously heard. He is now in prison.
Pell, who supported Ridsdale during his first court appearance for child sex offences in 1993, has always denied knowing of any child abuse occurring in Ballarat while he worked there as a priest and with a clerical group called the College of Consultors during the 1970s and 1980s. Pell also spent time living with Gerald Ridsdale in 1973, but has said he had no idea he was a paedophile.
The commission has previously heard Pell was involved in a College of Consultors decision to move Risdale from the Mortlake parish in Ballarat to Sydney in 1982.
Evidence from the hearings has revealed priests and clergy staff accused of abusing children within the archdiocese of Melbourne were sometimes “dealt with” by the church by transferring them to other parishes.
Pell has previously denied having moved Gerald Ridsdale out of the parish, and said he would never condone any decision to move a priest if he knew he had abused children.
Stephen Woods, who was abused by Ridsdale and the convicted paedophile brother Robert Charles Best while a student at St Alipius primary school, has previously given evidence before the commission, and told Guardian Australia he would be watching Pell’s evidence closely.
“All the victims are wanting, and all we have ever wanted, is the truth, justice and transparency, from an organisation that calls itself representative of God,” he said.
“Unfortunately, reality then kicks in and we look at the amount of money that has been spent by the church defending themselves over the decades, and we are not left with much hope.”
Woods said he would be interested in evidence from Pell about Gerald Risdale’s transfer to another parish.
The second stage of the hearings was due to be held in Ballarat, but was moved to the larger Melbourne county court due a high level of public interest in Pell’s appearance.
The hearings are examining the response of the diocese of Ballarat and of other Catholic church authorities in the town to allegations of child sexual abuse against clergy or religious figures, and the response of Victoria police to such allegations.
He will be available to give evidence in person before the commission between 16 and 18 December.
Innovation ( The Government starts to catch up)
Remember back in March when Christopher Pyne was effectively threatening to sack 1700 university researchers if his fee deregulation package didn't pass the Senate? Then he "fixed" the problem by finding the money elsewhere. ( I posted about it) Now he apparently has fixed it. The previously-endangered National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme will receive $1.5 billion over 10 years for projects such as ocean monitoring, advanced manufacturing and medical research.The Government is playing catch up with the opposition on this issue but is finally lurching into the 21st century.