OPINION: We are failing a national test of character

Sky News presenter Paul Murray.
Sky News presenter Paul Murray.

A TWO-year-old girl was allegedly raped last Friday night in Tennant Creek and authorities failed to protect her. The girl's injuries were so bad she was placed into an induced coma.

This week Sky News North Australia reporter, Matt Cunningham, confirmed Police and child protection department, Territory Families knew of at least 16 incidents of violence in the home where the assault took place. Yet, nothing was done to remove the two year old or other children clearly at risk in that home.

True to the script, we got apologies from politicians and admissions that 'the system' had failed the child. But that's not good enough. When will someone lose their job over this horror?

For too long child protection has been put into the too hard basket in the Territory. Successive governments have failed to treat Aboriginal homes like any other in the country for fear of being called racist or trying to create a new stolen generation.

The pendulum hasn't swung too far, it's swung off the clock when it comes to what's best for the child.

I hasten to call for another Royal Commission, but when the system has broken down like this we need something to expose its endless failings and someone to start from scratch.

The media must do their part too. These stories are hard to read, but they must be given greater prominence. They must lead the 6pm news and continue to be the front page of the paper. It's the only way we can make this an issue leaders will feel any pressure to deal with.

We've done it the wrong way for far too long; a child in nappies was allegedly  raped because the system failed her and we will continue to fail her the moment we stop talking about this.

We need much more than silence for the forgotten soldiers, sailors and airmen of the ADF

More than 400 members of the ADF have taken their own lives since 2001. That's more than eight times the number of people who have died for Australia in IRAQ and Afghanistan combined.

When someone falls in combat it's breaking news, the parliament stops to pay tribute and their photo is seen on TV. But when a life is lost away from battle … silence.

Often for many who return home and end up taking their own life, dealing with the government they fought to defend is the greatest foe.

The Department of Veterans Affairs too often acts like a private insurance company who make people jump through endless hoops before they will offer support.

The true test of our respect for the members of the defence force isn't just to pause on ANZAC Day, it's to care about them every other day of the year.

Give them jobs, help them start a business, and if the trauma is too much to do either, help them in any and every way we can.

Paul Murray is a broadcaster with Sky News who can be seen weeknights on Paul Murray LIVE 9-11pm AEDT.

Topics:  australian defence force northern territory opinion paul murray

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