Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘children

Two sides? At 12?

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I don’t think so.  Here we go yet again with child abuse.  It is reported that the man involved has admitted having sex with the 12 year-old victim.  The defence barrister says not to jump to conclusions because there are two sides to every story.

I’m sorry, mate, there is no second side to this story at all.   I know the basic legal principle – innocent until proven guilty and I agree with that totally.  Here we do not need proof: the offence has been admitted already.

I know that generations ago girls were married off very young.  In some societies around the world that is still the case, sadly.

Bribing a child with a promise of a horse just adds to the crime.  Taking payment from two (presumably) “mates” for sex with the girl is an even greater crime.  Will those two also be charged?  They certainly should be.  It reminds me of the recent Tasmanian case where an intellectually disabled child had been pimped out – the pimp was charged, but I never heard anything about the customers being charged.

When there is a child involved, ALL should be charged.

Sex is a wonderful thing.  It is not for forcing on innocent children and an adult male should have enough sense to know that.  If not, then he must still pay for his crime, for if he can’t recognise the wrong he is an ever greater danger to the community that a man who does have the sense.  Both are equally reprehensible.

The child is reported to have had an unhappy home life.  How much did this contribute to her vulnerability?  Should the parents be held to account as well?

The report doesn’t say how this came to the notice of the police.  If the young girl came forward on her own, I applaud her bravery.  I hope she manages to grow up without too many psychological scars from this time in her life.

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Written by Robyn Dunphy

December 6, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Be careful where you give birth!

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This article is not a concern for me or my family personally.  We are not going to have any more children and all the children we do have, have citizenship of one country or another.  Interestingly, my daughter is entitled to New Zealand citizenship by descent, but not my son – New Zealand’s laws changed between their births!

I wasn’t quite sure whether to put this entry here or on my other site – it really is a bit of both.  While my personal site concentrates on my own personal visa battle, I have commented several times that we need to change the way we handle the question of immigration, partner visas in particular because that is currently the area I know most about, although I know a reasonable amount about protection visas as well!

The article linked to above caught my eye because in the cases discussed we are not talking specifically about people marrying across borders (although indirectly we are) or refugees: we are talking about quite simply happy couples having much loved children.  Children, who because of different laws in different countries around the world, end up stateless.

…Mark Manly, head of the statelessness unit at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that gaps between national citizenship laws have put high-flying professionals around the globe in the same boat as migrants and refugees when it comes to getting passports for their kids.

“Far more people live outside their country of nationality than before, and there are more children born to parents of different countries,” he said. “We have a lot of situations where the children are not acquiring any nationality at all.”

One child in the article has a Chinese mother, Canadian father, was born in Belgium and after considerable stress for the parents, has now been granted Irish citizenship based on his grandfather’s nationality.  The father is quoted in the article, “When people think of refugees and stateless people they don’t think of Western, educated professionals with an office job.”

There is an international covenant that covers this sort of problem, the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, however it only has 37 signatory countries.  We have a long way to go.

This article supports what I have said before: the world is now a much more mobile place.  The various countries need to deal with this appropriately.

The article doesn’t address Australia specifically, but a quick look at the DIAC web site shows that clearly it could be a problem for foreigners residing here too, if they happen to come from a country where it is difficult or impossible to obtain citizenship by descent for their children.

Australian citizen by birth

Whether you are an Australian citizen by birth depends on the date of your birth.

Most children born in Australia before 20 August 1986 are Australian citizens by birth unless one parent was entitled to diplomatic privileges or was a consular officer of another country.

Children born after that date are only Australian citizens if at least one parent was an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of their birth.

Children born in Australia to parents who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents, automatically acquire Australian citizenship on their 10th birthday if they have lived most of their life in Australia.

Australia is having an each way bet – let’s hope if you give birth to a stateless child in Australia, you don’t want to travel for the first 10 years of that child’s life!  I need to cross-check the requirements of the Hague Convention, as I am sure it mentions statelessness too.  So many conventions, so little time!

What about if you go overseas and have a child?  Well, the waters get a bit mukier:

Child born overseas to an Australian citizen

Commonly, if you were born overseas after 26 January 1949 to an Australian citizen parent, you may be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship by descent.

If your parent became an Australian citizen by descent, he or she must have been present in Australia for periods totalling two years at some time in their life.

If you were born outside Australia or New Guinea before 26 January 1949 you may also be eligible for Australian citizenship by descent if at least one of your parents became an Australian citizen on 26 January 1949.

Good grief – do they literally mean ON 26 January 1949 and no other date?  Amazing.  What does “may be eligible” actually mean?

So it seems that while Australians are not specifically mentioned in The Age article, yes, there could be difficulties. 

I dare not venture into the topic of Australian Citizenship by adoption, I have a feeling that would be way too complicated for today!

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 28, 2010 at 8:47 am

Laws or no laws, the numbers are bad

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Children.  Vulnerable, dependant, lovable, cute: they can also be little horrors as any parent knows.  Adults of this world are responsible for ensuring the safety and upbringing of our children.

Today’s edition of The Age carried a story that should make all of us stop and think, irrespective of our voting preferences.  I’m happy to let the politicians argue over our laws: what we do or don’t have and is it enough.  What I DO know is that the numbers in the article are not what we should expect from a civilised country.  “… more than 1000 incidents in 2009-10 that were classified category 1 ...” and “More than 21,100 category 2 incidents were reported – events that seriously threaten clients or staff.”

Australia is a signatory to the Hague Convention of 1996 and to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The latter specifically states:

Article 19

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

Australia (not just Victoria) has had some really horrendous cases of child abuse lately.  The field of child protection cannot be an easy field to work in: I expect the stress levels would be quite high.  Clearly from the article in The Age, the staff turnover is very high.

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, Hilary Clinton made famous a Nigerian proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”. 

On the numbers given, this village, our village, is clearly failing a great many children.  While we can attempt to protect the children most at risk, to me this is a reactive process.  We have to find a proactive approach at look for the sources of the problems.  Why are so many people placing children in these situations?  What can we do to minimise, if not prevent, this happening?

A while ago I wrote about “Moving Forward” and covered several aspects of the state’s “rules” relating to protecting children and how there seemed on the face of it to be considerable contradiction when looking at the larger picture.  My comments there are also applicable to this entry today.

The best most of us can do is NOT turn a blind eye.  We are members of the village.  It takes a village to raise a child.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 24, 2010 at 10:49 am

Should I pay for your right to have children?

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A really cute grandnephew of mine

Of late we in Victoria, Australia have been inundated with either our own elections or election commentary from overseas.  We had our own Federal election in August, followed by the USA mid-terms and now we are in the final stages of the Victorian State elections.  We vote next weekend.  At least we are sensible enough to hold elections on the weekend!

Paid maternity leave has always been a bit of a problem for me.  Essentially the community ends up funding the cost to business.  Replacement staff are needed and this is passed on to the consumer in the prices of goods and services. Perhaps that is a good thing: after all, we do need the next generation and the economy is structured such these days that one income is really not enough, unless you are the CEO of one of our major banks!  So there is an argument for community funding, however indirectly that may be.  I have for years tossed this around in my thoughts against my belief that having children is a personal choice and responsibility.  I acknowledge perhaps it isn’t, totally.  There is a Nigerian proverb, once made famous by Hilary Clinton, that it takes a village to raise a child.  There is considerable truth in that.

Now it seems we want to go a step further.  The incumbant Victoria Premier has annouced a policy of a guaranteed right to return to work, part-time.  Current legislation guarantees only a return to the previous job, which is usually full-time.  This will increase the costs of maternity leave dramatically.  As this is not a look at economics, I will let another quantify the costs to business (as I am sure the opposition will), especially small business which employs the largest number of employees in our economy.

I wonder if people really cost out returning to work at all.  I know years ago my sister and I sat down and worked out all the additional costs related to her returning to work: petrol/travel, office clothes and childcare were just a few of the expenses.  We worked out she would gain about $20 a week.  Admittedly this was quite some years ago (she is a grandmother), she had four children and she had no formal qualifications to earn a high powered salary (such as the bank CEOs).  All the added stress and reduced mother time simply wasn’t worth $20.  Times have changed and the sums may no longer be the same.

What I DO know is that for business this will increase costs, which will be met by everyone – or the business viability will be compromised.  Businesses are not charity institutions, they exist to make a profit.  If they don’t, they fold and people lose their jobs.  How many manufacturing operations have already been moved off-shore due to the cost of labour?  How many call centres are based in India for the same reason?  Those are jobs that Australia has lost.  Yes, I know our unemployment is much lower than, for example, the USA and the UK.  Our economy is stronger.  We need to see it stays that way.

I am not sure this is for the benefit of all.  I see a grab for votes that sells papers and TV time here, rather than a considered analysis of the impact on the economy.  The health of our economy affects everyone, including the new mothers and their newborn babies.

What do you see?

Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 21, 2010 at 9:09 am