Photo credit:

Australia’s Long History of Denial


Australia has a history of denial regarding matters of sexual and physical abuse, particularly those involving women and children. The recent release of the Nauru files and the countless pieces of evidence that has been put forward of acts of abuse and harm directed at women and children has been met with denial by the Australian government. Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton’s comments following the release of the files, are in keeping with the history of denial and dismissal of sexual and physical abuse that has long characterised successive Australian governments.

The discourse of denial that has emerged following the release of the documents is reminiscent of those, which have and continue to circulate in response to the long history of physical and sexual abuse of Aboriginal peoples whilst in the care of the Australian government.

The recent leak of more than 2,000 incident reports from Australia’s offshore processing centre on Nauru demands urgent action for the protection of men, women and children from physical and sexual abuse. However, the response from the government is echoed perfectly in Dutton’s recent comments surrounding the reports, referring to them as “false allegations in an attempt to get into Australia”. The blatant denial of the abuse-taking place is part of a wider discourse of undermining and rendering victims as untrustworthy that has characterised Australia’s response.

The Australian government has proven, through the denial and inaction toward institutionalised abuse experienced by Aboriginal children in the hands of government agencies, the disregard of the findings of the Forgotten Children Report and the denial and questioned credibility of the incidents within the Nauru files, that they are unwilling to protect those most vulnerable in their ‘care’. One of Australia’s most senior mental health experts, Dr. Michael Dudley has spoken on the denial of the Australian government, “Public numbing and indifference towards state abuses in Nazi Germany resembles that enabling Australia’s immigration detention centres”.

The response from the government regarding the reports that were put forward fuels a dangerous notion that only some victims are deserving of our belief, trust and protection, and the government is to determine whom these individuals are. In what capacity can a government deny extensive accounts of children documenting the abuse they experience, both sexual and physical, and be labelled as untrustworthy?

The leaks paint a painful picture of widespread systemic child abuse at the hands of those employed to ‘protect’ them. The reports have affirmed what has been known for a long time, yet denied by the Australian government. Whilst there is widespread denial of the abuses at the hands of Government agencies, how can we progress as a nation to alternatives to offshore processing?

Originally posted here.

Leave a Reply