Questions we want to ask all candidates:
Do you know how serious the problem of child abuse is in this country?
Do you agree with Peter McClellan (Chair of the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse) that the Commission only covered 10% of the problem - 90% of abuse happens in the family?
Why wasn't the Family Court included as an 'institution'?
Do you know how many children going through the Family Court allege (or others allege on their behalf) that they have been abused?
How many of these children are made to live with or spend time with perpetrators of abuse because of Family Court rulings?
Who do you think should make decisions about children's future when there is a family breakdown and violence or abuse is involved?
Is the adversarial legal system a suitable forum for decisions about children's future when they are not actually parties to the proceedings?
Do you believe that ICLs( Independent Children's Lawyers) effectively represent children?
How many ICLs do you reckon actually meet their 'clients'?
What does 'the best interests of the child' mean to you?
Can you suggest a better way of deciding children's future wellbeing, welfare, safety and happiness?
Do you CARE for kids??
Many children experience strong grief symptoms and post-traumatic stress after parental intimate partner homicide. Considering their level of exposure and already heightened vulnerability – the case files in our larger study suggested more than 80% of children had experienced previous domestic violence – this is not surprising.
When asked, young people had various tips for others bereaved by homicide. Several talked about feeling supported by therapy and by their caregivers. For example, one girl said, when asked about her recommendations for others:
Therapy actually. Yes. Telling your caregivers what you’re struggling with… There was a time that I thought about suicide, and I found it very hard to say it so I’ve written it down for my caregivers. I came out of that [period] together with them, and with the help of my therapist. They also knew about it, that has really helped me.
Finding out that they were not alone was helpful for a number of the children. But again, not everyone shared the same view. For example, some children wanted to meet peers who had been experienced something similar, while others said they were not interested.
Taking the time to ask what children and young people need gives them an opportunity to influence their own lives. And, as an Australian young person outside the study commented, to keep checking in over time is important too. She said she initially didn’t want to connect with peers but recently changed her mind.
Several scholars have talked about the risk of no, or only tokenistic, participation of children in child protection decisions, leading to children not receiving adequate support, protection and mental health care. Our findings suggest young people are both able and willing to talk about these fundamental aspects of their lives.