We failed them

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Aboriginal Rock Art, Anbangbang Rock Shelter, ...

Is this what we will be saying in 2015 about the millions of children under the age of five who continue to die of preventable disease in situations of extreme poverty?

This week the (Australian) Northern Territory’s Minister for Children and Families admitted he will have to tear down the system for protecting Aboriginal children from abuse and neglect and start again. He described it this way in a Sydney Morning Herald report:

“The department has been demoralised … we are now going to rebuild from scratch and we have to leave the old ideologies [of child protection] at the door.”

His was a startling admission of failure. In the three years since the biggest federal intervention in 50 years of government in the territory, agencies are struggling to come to terms with endemic mistreatment of children.

Can we as a global community really reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015 from a 1990 level? Is the seemingly impossible possible?

If not – if we can’t achieve this – it represents yet another “great moral challenge of our time” which we are impotent to act to change. Failure is not an option.

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