Accepted Paper:

Morality versus Morality: the state's closure Aboriginal communities in response to child sexual abuse  


Christina Birdsall-Jones (Curtin University of Technology)

Paper short abstract:

In WA,the state government has ordered the closure of several Aboriginal communities in response to the discovery of child sexual abuse.This paper provides a case study of one such community in the context of competing moralities the state’s failure to intervene over a period of 13 years.

Paper long abstract:

In 2003 the state government of Western Australia ordered the closure of a gazetted Aboriginal community located in the eastern Perth suburb of Lockridge as part of the state government's response to reports of entrenched child sexual abuse within the Community. The situation and the main perpetrator was known within the Perth Aboriginal community from at least 1989, but only sub rosa. Whether police or any government agencies were aware of this situation of child abuse is not known. The leadership of the community was able to conceal the situation through an insistence that visitors could enter the community grounds only with the permission of the appropriate authority within the leadership group. The former community membership continues to deny that any child sexual abuse was committed within the community. In the years following the closure, the former community membership protested and entered into litigation with the state seeking the re-opening of the community, however in 2014 the state demolished the community housing and infrastructure. Why did no member of the Community or the Noongar community in general speak out in defence of the children? Why did the state respond to the situation of child abuse by closing down the community? This paper represents a preliminary examination of the ways in which both the state and the community failed to protect the children of the Community, the nature of the state's eventual response to the situation and the competing moralities involved in the story of this community.

Panel Imm01
Individuality, incivility, immorality