Monthly Archives

July 2021


By Australian Newsletter

Chinese investment into Australia is plummeting, having sunk to its lowest level since 2007, with the total funds now falling steadily each year since 2016 and 75% of Chinese investors reporting they are reluctant to invest because of the political climate. The numbers reveal a sea-change in China’s investment outlook towards Australia. Total investment in 2020 was $2.5bn, a decline of 27% on the 2019 figure of $3.4bn. The number of deals fell away dramatically from 42 in 2019 to 20 in 2020, a decline of about 50% year on year. “This appears to be a trend with no obvious end in sight,” Doug Ferguson, the report’s co-author and head of Asia and International Markets for KPMG Australia, said. “Investment has now fallen 83% since 2016.”

These figures come from the latest KPMG/University of Sydney joint report for 2020 titled “Demystifying Chinese Investment in Australia” and cover investments, mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and greenfield projects but do not include stocks, bonds and private residential purchases. Asked how the dominant Chinese state-owned enterprises now saw Australia as an investment destination, Mr Ferguson said: “They are wary and focused on other markets.” He said the future of China’s investment into this country lay with smaller, private companies seeking lower risk opportunities.  “The outlook for Chinese investment is mixed and uncertain and we anticipate any future growth to remain muted compared to previous years,” he said.

The extent of the trend, its sharpness and the structural forces in China and Australia driving this downturn, point to a pivotal change in the Australia-China financial relationship. Three core factors are behind the collapse in investment over the past five years: Chinese government restrictions and their shift in priorities away from OECD nations; and far tighter regulatory scrutiny in Australia by the Foreign Investment Review Board with its strong emphasis on national security and declining confidence in the political relationship. The impact of COVID-19 is relevant in 2020 but the downward trend long predated the pandemic. Optimism about Chinese investment is eroding rapidly. Mr Ferguson said the “new realities” had now “disrupted the heady expectations of the past for investment by Chinese companies”.

The extent of the slide shows Chinese investment into Australia fell from $US11.5bn in 2016 to $US1.9bn in 2020. “We are now at the lowest point in terms of investment value and the number of deals since 2007 and it is getting worse each year,” Mr Ferguson said. He said the troubled political relationship was a “material factor”. In addition, surveys conducted with executives from 75 Chinese companies showed that while Australia remained a preferred destination compared with other countries and investors were highly confident about Australia’s handling of the pandemic, alarm signals were being rung. The report said: “75% of the surveyed executives stated the political environment in 2020 has made Chinese companies more cautious to invest in Australia compared with 59% in 2018 and 70% in 2017.

Chinese private investors believe the tense diplomatic situation increased business risks and compliance costs in China and Australia. Chinese state-owned investors registered increased communication problems between headquarters and subsidiaries, reputation decline for Australian subsidiaries in the headquarters’ corporate hierarchy, delays in headquarters’ approval and concern about the security of assets and supply chains. Business commentator Terry McCrann says China will not keep “handing” its money over to buy Australian iron ore amid its search for resources in other countries. “From the business perspective of Chinese investors in Australia the political mistrust between the Australian and Chinese governments has become mutual.

66% of the surveyed executives stated the Chinese government was less supportive of investment in Australia than previously, while 75% of respondents felt the Australian federal government was less supportive of Chinese investment in Australia than previously.” Beijing’s policies on capital are a critical feature of the story. A total of 54% of Chinese investors reported concern and said it was “difficult to get capital out of China in 2020”. Evidence pointed to less funds being available for overseas investment as well as a reordering of priorities to developing nations. In terms of investment into Australia, mining was the largest recipient sector in 2020 with 37.6% of total Chinese investment followed by commercial real estate at 36.1% and the services sector running at 21%. There was no Chinese investment in renewable energy, oil and gas or infrastructure.

Returns are being squeezed. Only one-third of executives believe their turnover will grow in 2021 and 39% say it will decline. The survey shows a tougher, more pragmatic outlook by Chinese investors, there is more emphasis on synergies, profitability and targeted opportunities. On the other hand, much of China’s total foreign investment is linked to Belt and Road agendas. The global context is fundamental to the story. Global direct foreign investment fell by one-third in 2020 and the total fall in direct investment into developed economies was 58% reaching an 80% fall in Europe. Total foreign investment into Australia halved from $US39bn in 2019 to $US20bn in 2020. “China still remains a significant player in our overall foreign investment,” Mr Ferguson said.

He said China’s 2020 investment into the UK and Europe fell by an even larger margin than its investments into Australia. Yet in 2020 about 1.5% of China’s total foreign investments came to Australia, a far lower figure than in the past. Asked what Chinese investors said was their greatest problem dealing with Australia, Mr Ferguson said: “Getting Australian regulatory approval.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

A children’s hospital gender clinic is under review with responsibility for treatment decisions shifted to judges amid great secrecy and an international trend towards caution. New patients at the gender clinic, which cannot be named for legal reasons, have to get court approval before they can go ahead with life-altering hormonal treatments in high demand by teenagers who identify as transgender. The dramatic change followed concerns raised by a state solicitor’s office about the risk of government exposure to litigation akin to the successful case brought against the UK Tavistock clinic by Keira Bell, a young woman who came to regret her treatment with puberty blockers, testosterone and mastectomy.

After the English High Court handed down its Tavistock ruling that minors would struggle to give informed consent to experimental treatment, the parents of patients at the Australian gender clinic were sent a letter warning them the need for court approval would delay a start to blockers or hormones. University of Queensland legal academic Patrick Parkinson said it was a “very significant” turn in the gender clinic debate, likening it to the decision by the Tavistock clinic to halt new referrals for puberty blockers, and the recent policy of a Swedish clinic to limit all future hormonal treatment of minors to strictly supervised clinical trials. Professor Parkinson said the state government was “essentially saying they are going to use the court as a safeguard”, given the grave consequences of a mistaken decision to approve treatment with irreversible effects.

He said the government should be commended “for responding to the changing science on all of this and taking a precautionary approach” to the treatment of minors diagnosed with gender dysphoria, or a distressing sense of conflict between an inner “gender identity” and biological sex.  The judges in the Tavistock case expressed “surprise” about the lack of basic patient data at that UK clinic and the meagre evidence for treatment, concluding that puberty blockers were an experimental pathway to lifelong medicalisation. In recent years there has been an international surge in teens declaring a trans identity and telling parents they fear self-harm if unable to get blockers or hormones quickly, and clinics following the “gender affirmative” approach claim these treatments can be “life-saving”.

But the suicide narrative of affirmative clinicians as well as the evidence base and risks of their medical interventions are under intense international scrutiny, with concerns that a cultural fixation on gender stops exploration of crucial underlying issues such as trauma, autism or awkward same-sex attraction. The new policy at the unnamed Australian gender clinic was revealed in a recent decision by a state court exercising a family law jurisdiction, with Justice Susan Duncanson noting that the Tavistock ruling was “integral” to the change. The Tavistock, England’s only specialist gender clinic for children, has appealed. Justice Duncanson, noted the new policy of court approval for treatment would apply while the children’s hospital gender clinic underwent a review.

Even in cases where the child was 16 or older, able to give informed consent, and parents and clinicians all agreed on treatment, the hospital said it was likely to remain neutral, neither consenting nor opposing the application to the court. And the hospital suggested that in complex or disputed cases, the court might want to involve a “contravener” so the judges would have the benefit of hearing arguments against treatment. Unlike the Tavistock test case, Australia’s Family Court has had a string of gender dysphoria cases where only arguments in favour of medical treatment were heard.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Feature Articles

Twisting the path of Christian revelation, almost all false religions follow the same five steps. It starts with (1) a false prophet who then writes or uses, (2) a false authority to then proclaim, (3) a false god, (4) a false saviour and, (5) a false salvation. Pick your poison, i.e., your false religion, and you will see the same pattern.[1] This includes the religion being broadcast today through what many are calling “the Great Awokening”. The Great Awakening was a period of profound Christian religious interest that began in the early to mid-1700’s in New England and spread throughout the American colonies. Jonathan Edwards is typically recognized as the most prominent theologian of the Awakening, while George Whitefield is seen as its greatest evangelist.

To understand the Great Awokening of today, we have to go back much further than the 1700’s to understand its anti-God roots and how it got to where it is now. In short, it is simply another head of the false religious hydra, humanism. Humanism’s prophets can be traced back to the Greek philosopher Protagoras (c. 481 – 411 B.C.) who is credited with coining humanism’s mantra: “Man is the measure of all things, of those that are, of those that are not that they are not.” About this statement, agnostic and skeptic Bertrand Russell forebodingly says, “This is interpreted as meaning that each man is the measure of all things, and that, when men differ, there is no objective truth in virtue of which one is right and the other wrong.” If that statement doesn’t start your hazard lights flashing, I don’t know what will.

Protagoras laid the foundation that other atheists gradually built on during the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods (14th-19th centuries) by more firmly elevating humankind to the centre of reality. Because humanism has no Creator, no creation, and thus no God-given absolutes, it naturally depends on ever-changing human political machines to carry out its gospel. This, of course, has disaster written all over it. Why? Because humanism pushes for “freedom” but, as Russell points out, it has no consensus or means to contain it. The natural result is chaos and lawlessness because people exercise their freedom in an excessive manner, and so the conclusion always ends in authoritarianism and slavery under state / political rule.

There is no better example of this than the French Revolution of 1789, which gave formal birth to the Leftist movement and was influenced by the humanist prophets Voltaire and Rousseau. The freedom it chased was one characterized by the pursuit of absolute power and secularism. It included a mob-driven and forceful de-Christianisation campaign that grounded its ethics in pragmatism and ever-changing right and wrong. Its natural outworking was something that made the worst of modern-day slasher films look tame. The humanist French Revolution thinking was then carried to the shores of America and popularized by other false secular prophets like John Dewey (1859-1952). His marching orders for the contemporary humanist movement can be found in his book A Common Faith, where he says: “Let’s take it [humanism] and make it the militant religion of the public schools…Here are all the elements for a religious faith that shall not be confined to sect, class, or race.

Such a faith has always been implicitly the common faith of mankind. It remains to make it explicit and militant.” Note that Dewey correctly labels humanism a “religion faith”, one even recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. The Great Awokening in America is simply another attempt by humanism to unseat God, His established human authorities (e.g., the “defund the police” movement) and carry out its false gospel, which is marketed deceptively well in the Humanist Manifesto II: “we can control our environment, conquer poverty, markedly reduce disease, extend our life-span, significantly modify our behaviour, alter the course of human evolution and cultural development, unlock vast new powers, and provide humankind with unparalleled opportunity for achieving an abundant and meaningful life.” What differs in the Great Awokening’s approach to this illusory end goal vs. past attempts is the focus used to garner sympathy and gain disciples. Never forget that sympathy is a powerful weapon in the devil’s arsenal.

Niall Ferguson, a Scottish author and historian from the Hoover Institution, describes how that sympathy is produced and used to spread humanism’s gospel in the Great Awokening: “People on the Left didn’t really want to have a conversation about economics, because they had lost their arguments in the 1980s; they really hadn’t been able to make the case for socialism successfully. The conclusion was that there was more money to be made, or more power to be gained by exploiting identity politics and emphasizing cultural, racial, gender differences.” He then goes on to declare: “Wokeism, is in fact, a religion…We are dealing not just with the decay of traditional religion, but far worse, the rise of new fake religions, political religions, and one thing that’s very clear from the 20th century is that when people take their religious feelings, and they apply them to political ideologies, terrible things can happen.”

Funny, isn’t it, that the same people crying the loudest for separation of traditional Church and State are the same ones melding their Church and State together in the Great Awokening to rule over the supposedly less enlightened (i.e., “woke”)?  Calling it “a religion without grace”, Pastor Voddie Baucham depicts the false faith of wokeism as being “replete with notions of original sin and atonement” and having “its own theology and theological terminology. It has its own saints, its own priests, it has its own rituals.” But, as Baucham says, it’s a faith that is bankrupt with respect to true salvation: “So it’s a religion, but as a religion, it offers no hope. There is no ultimate redemption in antiracism. You just have to do the work of anti-racism for the rest of your life and hope you never step out of line, because if you do, then you go back to zero.”

Ask how true a statement that is to any who have sinned against the woke church and tried to apologize. They are met with the same reaction Judas got from the Pharisees when he tried to return his 30 pieces of silver as repentance: “What is that to us?” (Matt. 27:4). Candace Owens highlights the reason for this attitude when she writes, “The idea is to keep us eternally angry. The idea, of course, is perpetual revolution.” So, we see that the Great Awokening has (1) its many false prophets who, (2) have their works collectivized into various manifestos, which (3) declare humankind a god; a god who also doubles as (4) a false saviour that (5) works out a never-completed salvation that is devoid of any forgiveness or ultimate redemption.

How different is the true gospel of God that offers real change for the sinful human condition and a “seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22) grace for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord. And how stark is the difference between the two produced fruits of humanism vs. Christianity. From the former come the terrible acts showcased every day on social media, which are also listed in Gal. 5:19-21 – “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these”. But the fruit of Christianity? “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). Sadly the 20th century, filled with its humanist practices and devoid of the Spirit, instead produced the worst atrocities recorded in human history. Unfortunately, it seems the disciples of the Great Awokening aren’t learning from their humanist predecessor’s mistakes.

Source: By Robin Schumacher, Christian apologist and author of several Christian books.


By Australian Newsletter

A West Australian government policy of refusing to lease its entertainment venues to groups with alternative views to the government has scuppered plans for a series of appearances in the state by the head of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL). The Perth Theatre Trust invoked the venue hire policy last month when it rejected the ACL’s request to book the Albany Entertainment Centre and the Perth Concert Hall for events featuring the group’s head, Martyn Iles, declaring the ACL had “politically motivated objectives’’. The venue hire policy was finalised just days after the state government’s emphatic March election win, and amended following its decision to ban the ACL from its venues across the state.

It states the trust will not accept individuals or organisations “where the content of the event does not represent the views of the West Australian government or the vast majority of Western Australians”. The ACL has found itself at odds with the McGowan government on issues including the Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation that came into effect at the start of July. The ACL is now considering whether to take legal action against the trust, with the policy potentially in breach of section 62 of the Equal Opportunity Act. That act makes it unlawful for a person to not make facilities available to another person on the grounds of their religious or political convictions. Peter Abetz, the WA state director of the ACL, said the policy appeared to be a serious example of government censorship.

Abetz went on “I’d be very keen to see it progressed and the policy changed, or if they don’t do it voluntarily, then perhaps we need to go to some kind of discrimination tribunal.” While the updated policy expressly rules out leasing venues to “political parties for the purposes of electioneering and fundraising”, venues managed by the Perth Theatre Trust and fellow government body VenuesWest were hired out to WA Labor Party candidates and the party in the lead-up to the March election. Retiring Labor MP Peter Watson held both a Christmas concert for constituents late last year and his farewell in January at the Albany Entertainment Centre, while his successor in Albany, Rebecca Stephens, held an event at the venue just before the election. The Labor Party’s campaign launch was also held at the state-owned Perth Arena.

An updated version of the Perth Theatre Trust’s venue hire policy came into effect on 15 March, two days after the McGowan government recorded its overwhelming election win. The Perth Theatre Trust is responsible for a host of venues, including His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth Concert Hall, Subiaco Arts Centre and the State Theatre Centre of WA. The bulk of its funding comes from the state government, which contributed $14.76m in the 2020 financial year, almost double the $7.45m in revenue it generated over the same timeframe. The decision to block the ACL event drew a furious response from Albany mayor Dennis Wellington, who described the policy as draconian, discriminatory and financially irresponsible.

The city of Albany contributes $400,000 a year to maintaining the entertainment centre. Mr Wellington said he would raise the issue at the next meeting of the council. “The ACL are not illegal, they have a right to their opinion, and I cannot see a reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to use the damn thing.’’ WA Culture and Arts Minister David Templeman referred queries about the policy to the Perth Theatre Trust (PTT). A spokeswoman for Perth Theatre Trust said it hired out venues in accordance with its venue hire policy. “PTT is currently considering the specific matters raised by the Australian Christian Lobby,” she said. In subsequent news, the Western Australian Government has backed down. Their policy to cancel those who disagree has been rescinded in its entirety pending a full review.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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By Australian Newsletter

Jacklyn Symes, Northern Victorian politician has described the Australian Christian Lobby’s pamphlets on the recently passed Change or Suppression (Conversion) legislation as “hurtful, harmful and wrong.” However, she didn’t mention that the legislation bans LGBTIQA+ people who want help from getting help [Section 5(1)], and prosecutes parents who want to encourage their gender confused children to wait, rather than rushing into irreversible gender transitioning treatment [Section 64]. These ACL pamphlets seek to bring out truth and raise awareness in the community. And, LGBTIQA+ people should have the freedom to explore other options and seek counselling rather than limiting them to only one option, gender transitioning.

What is concerning about the legislation is that even those who consent to get help cannot get it. This harms LGBTIQA+ people by robbing them of their freedom of choice. In addition, Section 64 amends the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 to allow authorities to investigate and prosecute parents who help their children understand and be at ease with their own biological sex before deciding on gender transitioning treatments. With gender theory being taught extensively in all state schools to children as young as primary level, children confused over their gender will lose the opportunity to have proper conversation with their parents. Parents will either be forced to affirm their child’s preferred gender, or risk being prosecuted for “family violence” that is deemed to cause psychological harm by “changing or suppressing” their child’s desired gender identity.

Out of love and care for families in the community, children, and the LGBTIQA+ community, the ACL pamphlets intend to help parents be aware of the danger of this legislation and avoid litigation. It is also ACL’s wish to advocate for the true freedom of gender confused children and the LGBTIQA+ community. If they are seeking help and consent to receive it, they deserve help in any form. How are ACL’s pamphlets “hurtful, harmful and wrong” or “derogatory” and “appalling” when they tell the truth about passed legislation and reveal the hidden risks?  The Attorney-General and the Andrews Government should ask themselves why they are enacting a law that strips away the freedom to help others or seek help, and that prosecutes parents who want to parent with common sense and acknowledge biological facts.

Source: Australian Christian Lobby

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By Australian Newsletter

Supporters of Beijing have been accused of bullying, threatening, and spying on dozens of Chinese and Hong Kong students on Australia’s university campuses, a Human Rights Watch report has found. More than 20 students across the nation’s top 16 campuses have told the landmark report that pro-Beijing activists in Australia have put photos of them on Chinese social media sites and labelled them traitors, threatened them at rallies, and even reported their families to Communist Party authorities back in Beijing. Some students have also told researchers that they have been hauled in by the regime, when they have returned to China, to explain their pro-democracy activities in Australia. And one student claimed Chinese officials offered to pay for his studies if he spied on members of Australia’s Muslim Uyghur community.

Human Rights Watch is now calling on the nation’s university vice-chancellors and the Morrison government to do more to protect students from campus intimidation and to bolster the value of academic freedom in the face of growing Beijing influence. The university sector said it was deeply concerned by the Human Rights Watch report, and its peak bodies said they were working with government to tackle foreign interference. But many of the pro-democracy students surveyed for the report said they did not feel the universities had been able or willing to step in and protect them. Bonnie, a pro-democracy Hong Kong student at the University of Queensland, said she had been regularly abused on campus and her friends had seen their families targeted by authorities back home.

“When I have been involved in pro-democracy protests on campus, we have been surrounded by Chinese nationalist students, or people brought in by the Chinese embassy. I have had my photo taken and put up on Chinese social media sites. They call us separatists and say we betray the country,” she said. “I’ve been lucky that my parents have not been contacted. One of my friends on campus has been called by his mother back home, saying the police came and that he shouldn’t be involved in protests. The mother of another friend is also currently detained.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

An Australian academic says she is being targeted for launching a website promoting sex-segregated spaces on campus amid ongoing protests to protect trans-identified students. University of Melbourne Associate Professor of Political Philosophy Holly Lawford-Smith, who is interested in preserving sex-segregated spaces, explained in an interview with Sky News Australia that the project she started caused controversy both on and off campus because it was said to be “transphobic.” “This has been going on since February now,” she said of the antagonism she has experienced. She added that some are trying to shut down her classes and are making accusations against her about her research ethics and behaviour between colleagues on campus.

Supporters of the professor have had water thrown at them, have been subject to profanity-laced threats and physical assaults. The backlash started after Lawford-Smith set up a website called “No Conflict, They Said,” highlighting the clash between women and trans-identifying males who claim to be women. The website is run by members of LGB Alliance Australia. The LGB Alliance, which has chapters in the United Kingdom and the USA, is a group of lesbians, gays and bisexual individuals who consider transgender ideology a threat to the rights of same-sex attracted people. They warn that the ideology is dangerous and confusing to children.

Featured stories on the website include incidents of harassment of women and girls by trans-identifying males in public spaces and how transgender ideology manifests across Australian society. When asked what the university is doing to protect free academic inquiry, the professor told Sky News Australia that a “chilling” effect was pervading free speech on campus. “I already know from a number of different students about their negative experiences in various classes that have been shut down from being able to ask questions about sex and sex-based rights, to be able to question things from a gender-critical perspective at all,” Lawford-Smith explained. Women are disproportionately impacted by this hostility to open inquiry, she added. Activist academics have reportedly tried to get Lawford-Smith fired and have filed petitions against her.

The “gender affirmation” policy proposed on campus appears to be a specific attempt at limiting her public-facing activities related to her academic research, she said. The professor said that work to draft the proposal began shortly after an event in 2019 she hosted with other academics to discuss the issues related to education. Although still a draft, the professor said that policy measures would effectively violate the campus free speech policy by compelling staff and students to use opposite-sex pronouns when referring to transgender-identifying students, inviting the violation of sex-specific spaces and giving trans-identifying students veto power over public events and public discourse.

“The university community is quite divided over this issue,” she replied when asked if she was receiving support from colleagues who secretly tell her that they agree with her viewpoint. “It’s absolutely not the case that it’s me versus the rest of the university. I think this has become a very polarizing issue. I have an awful lot of support, some more public than others.” She warned that because there are “such strong feelings on both sides, it’s going to be difficult for the university to work out a good resolution.” According to Melbourne newspaper The Age, the draft policy would prohibit public speeches or events that the school deems to be an attack on gender diversity. The policy would alter the university’s free speech policy to prevent academics from engaging in public discourse the university believes can “harm” the transgender community.

The professor argues that the word “harm” is not defined in the policy. The draft proposal comes after a queer student group called for the suspension of Lawford-Smith’s feminism class over concerns course materials contained “transphobic rhetoric.” Critics also called for Lawford-Smith to be suspended. A spokesperson for the university said that the proposed policy has been in the works since 2019 and all feedback will be considered before it is finalized. “One of our core values is that there must be a genuine and deep culture of respect for everyone at our university and of course this includes being completely respectful towards the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community,” the spokesperson told The Age.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

Urgent calls are being made to reform Victoria’s residential care system for children, amid news young people are fleeing temporary homes at alarming rates and are easy prey for predators seeking to sexually or criminally exploit them. The damning findings, which also revealed organised paedophile rings are actively targeting young people in out-of-home care, were reported by an inquiry tabled in parliament.  Principal Commissioner for children and young people Liana Buchanan found young people who go missing are considered “street smart” and therefore the risks connected to their disappearance are downplayed.  “There is no consistent approach to reporting or recording children who are absent or missing from care,” she said in a foreword.

“Many workers recognise that the current system drives a dispiriting and damaging cycle of absence, harm and brief return for many high-risk young people, yet there is a sense of resignation and powerlessness in the face of these systemic failures. Child protection opposition spokesman Matt Bach said the state is in the “grip of a child protection crisis”. “We already knew a record 65 children known to child protection died last year. Through this new report we’ve learnt more about the shameful failures of the Andrews Government, with vulnerable children being successfully targeted by organised paedophile rings, and raped,” he said. “The Andrews Labor Government must change its crisis-driven approach into supporting our children and young people to prevention and early intervention.”

The inquiry found care given to children in residential placements is in “many cases inadequate”. The agencies responsible for residential care include the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, Victoria Police and residential service providers. In the 18 months to March 31 last year, 37 per cent of missing children incident briefs contained reports of sexual exploitation. In the same time period, girls and young women were reported as missing at 2.5 times the rate boys and young men were. But it is likely that boys and young men are under-represented in incident reporting. A group of 12 children also appeared to go missing more frequently than others, accounting for 33 per cent of all primary absent reports. Half of those reports concerned three young people in particular.

There was a spike in missing children reports when state of emergency restrictions were announced in Victoria last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with numbers of absent client incidents up by 36 per cent in the six months to August 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The inquiry found the system used to monitor missing children is “inconsistent” and as a result authorities do not know how many children go missing, how long they disappear for and what happens to them during their absence. The report called for urgent and systemic change in the system, which should recognise how consequences of trauma can drive young people away from their placements. Child protection minister Luke Donnellan said there was a “long way to go” to improve the state’s child protection system.

“Children and young people in residential care have complex backgrounds, with a history of trauma and abuse – so they need extra support to feel safe, stable and settled in their placements,” he said. “We’re boosting the workforce and expanding new care models for children and young people – including wrap-around services, comprehensive mental health support, better connection to community and country, and smaller, more family-like care settings.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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