by Rev Karen Kime – Anglicare Cultural Safety Manager.
It is incomprehensible that an affluent and socially ‘enlightened’ nation such as ours, feels the need to criminalize children as young as 10 years old. It is incomprehensible from all of the reports relating to Black Deaths in Custody, that few of the recommendations have ever been implemented. It is unacceptable, that the enormous rates of removal of First Nation children from their homes into foster care continues to be condoned, despite what we have learnt from the past.
Who would have thought that in the 21st Century, our nation continues to uphold such ill-informed and unjust laws that would see its children criminalised, particularly since we now know that at this age, they’re unable to realize the long term consequences of what they do. All of these issues are related of course, since the majority of children serving prison sentences are Australia’s Indigenous children – removed from home and family. Research reveals that many of them grow to become part of the ever expanding prison population flourishing in this country.
The above actions have been called ‘tools of colonisation’, used as a means of marginalizing the voices of Australia’s First Nation peoples; tools which foster the white privilege so prevalent in Australian society. Stan Grant Jnr points to the racism across all of our institutions. He rightly asserts that to realise a fairer and just nation, it must become ‘better than that’!
Finally the Apostle Paul highlights what solidarity looks like for the people of Jesus – “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it’ he wrote, while St James famously asserts that ‘one cannot have faith, without action’. These are words that must inform the Church and Christians everywhere. Remaining silent, while witnessing racism and discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, makes one complicit. Indeed, remaining silent in the criminalisation of our children, erodes the humanity of us all – and the integrity of our nation.