Dr Jennifer Wilson

Turnbull gov push to cheat sex abuse survivors an exercise in apathy

The Turnbull government has decided that punishing the victims of sexual abuses is more important than punishing those who perpetrated the acts.

 

 

The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sex Abuse hadn’t quite concluded when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Social Security Minister Christian Porter embarked on their malfeasant project of creating two tiers of abuse survivors.

In their proposed and ill-named redress scheme (there can be no “redress”, there can only be recognition of awful suffering), a survivor of childhood sexual abuse will receive no “compensation” if he or she has spent five or more years in jail: The bill excludes anyone convicted of sex offences, or sentenced to prison terms of five years or more for crimes such as serious drug, homicide or fraud offences.

At present in this country, it is up to the judiciary to determine the punishment for crimes, not politicians and bureaucrats. Yet if you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who has done/is doing time for your crime, you will now be further punished by your ineligibility for recognition.

It isn’t enough that survivors have survived criminal sexual assaults, the majority of which attracted no punishment at all for the perpetrators. It isn’t enough that survivors are already punished as our judiciary deems appropriate. Now Turnbull and Porter have decided to further punish this group of survivors, because they can, and because it might save them a little bit of money they can spend on Peter Dutton’s spin doctors.

 

In the LNP world, childhood sexual abuse in itself doesn’t earn you the right to be recognised by your government and the institutions responsible for your suffering. You are only deserving of recognition if you are a good survivor.

 

Apparently, in the morally skewed universe of Malcolm Turnbull, the damage done by sexual assaults perpetrated upon you when you were a little kid is superseded by your behaviour as an adult.

This is a sickening conflation. Survivors are not being rewarded by “compensation”: it’s a small financial recognition for lives ruined by the failure of authorities to fulfil their basic obligations and responsibilities to children in their care. No adult crime erases the legitimacy of trauma caused by childhood abuse, yet Turnbull’s two-tiered scheme implies that this is the case.

In the LNP world, childhood sexual abuse in itself doesn’t earn you the right to be recognised by your government and the institutions responsible for your suffering. You are only deserving of recognition if you are a good survivor.

It doesn’t matter what happened to you. You still need to behave like the ruling class thinks you should behave. This is what is most important. Not the crimes committed against you. Not the trauma you’ve struggled with your whole life. Not the perpetrators who escape accountability, including those who covered up the crimes against you. No. None of that.

You need to be a nice survivor. You need to behave.

 

Dr Jennifer Wilson

Jennifer is an independent scholar, eclectic writer and prolific political blogger at No Place for Sheep. She has published academic papers, book chapters, short stories, memoir and poetry. There is no box she will not think outside of. So far.

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