Why they should stop saying sorry for everything

The only thing Krudd has managed to do in the last two years is apologies for problems that happened years ago. Instead of apologies for all of these failings of the past how about he actually do something about fixing these problems and ensuring that they “never let them happen again”.

I could not agree more with what Andrew Bolt says about this in his latest article.

HOW easy – how smugly satisfying – it is to apologise for someone else’s mistakes.

You get all the credit for being noble, but suffer none of the pain of remorse.

And so I watched last month’s apology to the “Forgotten Australians” with, I admit, the deepest cynicism – a cynicism that has in this past week turned into anger.

Both Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and then Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull joined in Parliament to sanctimoniously damn former politicians, welfare officials and churchmen for having put up to 500,000 children in care.

As their apology stated: “Sorry – that as children you were taken from your families and placed in institutions where so often you were abused.”

But was it Rudd himself who’d snatched these children, screaming, from their parents? Was it Turnbull who’d then flogged them with a polo mallet, or forced them to work as slave labour for Goldman Sachs?

Of course not, or else (knowing those two egomaniacs) we’d have got from them not sorries but spin. Not confessions but denials.

No, Rudd and Turnbull were much more at home in apologising on behalf of people they did not know for crimes most did not commit, than they would be in saying sorry for anything they actually did themselves.

What made their apology even worse was that it wasn’t offered only to those of the 500,000 children who’d been treated badly in government homes, but to every one of them for having been taken at all.

What a dreadful deceit.

How could they call a crime the rescue of children who’d in many cases had been bashed at home or neglected, or abandoned or even raped?

Here, for instance, is the story of Hazel Connelly, now 78, who was singled out by The Age as a “forgotten” child most deserving Rudd’s sorry:

“We were neglected children, and that’s why we became wards of the state,” she says.

Her father regularly walked out on the family and came back and walked out again. Her mother struggled to take care of nine children – four boys and five girls – by herself. There wasn’t enough food, clothes, or blankets. So welfare took the children away.

We should say sorry to Connelly for being rescued?

I’m not denying some children in care were abused, and that many suffered terribly for lack of a parent’s love.

But shouldn’t the people most fervently saying sorry to the “Forgotten Australians” be their parents, rather than the government and church carers who tried gamely with little money to save children who had been so shamefully betrayed?

But what really should make us gag most about last month’s fake apology by people with nothing to lose and only vanity to please was this passage in the motion passed by Parliament:

And let us also resolve this day, that this national apology becomes a turning point in our nation’s story. A turning point for shattered lives. A turning point for governments at all levels and of every political colour and hue, to do all in our power to never let this happen again.

“Never let this happen again”? Now that’s a solemn vow, and if the people making it fail to keep that promise they’d finally have something of their own to say sorry for, right?

So where are they today, all those apologisers for the mistakes of others, now that they indeed have their own – our own – to confront?

Where’s the apology from these “never again” politicians for the fact that record numbers of Australian children are being raised by the state right now, with more than 34,000 on care and protection orders as at June 30 last year?

Why will no politician say sorry for having hired on the cheap so many child protection workers who are barely out of childhood themselves, and then piling them with too many cases for even the wise to handle?

Where are the statesmen’s public tears for having rootlessly shuffled foster children – some just babies – from one temporary home to another, or for farming them off to carers who raise them, unsupervised, just for the cash?

And where are the promises of “never again” to the rescued children we today hand to angelic foster parents (like two friends of mine) to be nursed back to health, but who are then handed back to their drug-addled mother for a final, final, final chance to prove she can look after a toddler she’s treated like dirt?

In fact, almost every newspaper in the weeks since Rudd and Turnbull’s apology has carried items that made me wonder how our politicians had the time or hide to say sorry for the treatment of children decades ago when there’s so much to be sorry about the way we treat children now.

Item: We were told yesterday that on any night up to 120 Victorian children who’ve been rescued from abuse and neglect are put up in run-down motels or caravan parks.

Item: We learned this week that a 12-year-old girl in Victorian state care was raped by five men and often left her welfare unit to live with three middle-aged men who gave her drugs.

Item: We read last week that the NSW Department of Community Services did not properly follow up 34 reports that toddler Dean Shillingsworth was in danger, leaving the two-year-old to be murdered by his mother, who then stuffed his body into a suitcase and tossed it into a pond.

Item: Last month we discovered that Victoria’s child protection system was so short of staff and good managers that the Ombudsman said it was failing to protect children from abuse, and had not even assigned a case worker to a fifth of the children it was supposed to be minding.

If we once acted too quickly to rescue children, it’s surely clear we now move too slowly.

One of the cases cited by the Ombudsman was of a child – suffering with cerebral palsy – who had to be fed through a tube, but was left in the care of a mother battling schizophrenia without any contact or help from child protection workers.

So where are the politicians now, with their fine sorries and sacred tears?

Where are the Prime Minister and premiers with their resounding chorus of “never again”?

Ah, but saying sorry is so much easier, isn’t it, when the sins aren’t yours, and there’s nothing left to do but strike a fetching pose?

We’re so sorry about that, children. But adults’ pride comes before your fall.


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