Media Release: Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The outcry from politicians and the community about the latest Bill Henson controversy is welcome but needs to be matched by concrete measures to end the growing sexualisation and exploitation of children, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) said today.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace praised the Victorian Government for launching an investigation into the incident which saw photographer Bill Henson last year allegedly permitted to scour a St Kilda primary school for child models. However he said that this highly concerning occurrence further underscores the wider problem of the toxic sexualised environment children are being brought up in.

“The latest revelations have brought into question whether children are even safe from being exploited for artistic profit when they are in the school playground. We strongly urge the Victorian Government to ensure this incident is never repeated,” Mr Wallace said.

“However action needs to go further than that. This incident is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the rising tide of problems confronting our young people who almost every day are being pressured by society to see their worth as defined by their sexual attractiveness.

“There is clear community concern about the ongoing sexualisation of children and our governments need to be developing effective strategies and regulations to deal with this widespread problem. Action shouldn’t be confined to simply responding to these types of incidents if they finally come to light.”

Mr Wallace said that a report of a Senate inquiry into the sexualisation of children in the contemporary media environment which was released in June had failed to put forward the fundamental reforms needed to deal with the problem – meaning the endemic issues continued despite compelling concerns raised by the community.

“It is well and truly time for policies to be developed and effective regulations put in place to protect children from growing sexualisation and exploitation, which doesn’t even seem to have been exempted from the schoolyard,” Mr Wallace said.

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan