Media Release:  Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The disturbing cases of a 12-year-old Sydney girl being given the contraceptive pill against her parents’ wishes and a 12-year-old Dubbo girl falling pregnant despite her father’s pleas for help have again pointed to a valueless system which is failing to protect children in need, the Australian Christian Lobby said today.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said that in both cases media reports indicated that the NSW Department of Community Services (DOCS) had ignored the wishes of the young girl's parents – with the parents of the Sydney girl saying she was too young to be given a ‘safe sex kit’ and the father of the Dubbo girl left shattered by DOCS’ failure to respond to his repeated requests to protect his daughter.

“Both cases have again highlighted an organisational culture which is failing to properly support families or acknowledge the role and authority of parents in determining what’s best for their children,” Mr Wallace said. “Sadly this is indicative of a wider problem in society where not enough focus is being put on supporting families and helping to prevent these types of situations arising in the first place.

“Obviously far more needs to be done to strengthen our child protection services but beyond that we must also consider what can be done to address the underlying causes that are leading to these problems – including family breakdown and the limited assistance parents receive in fulfilling their vital role,” he said.

“Building healthy family relationships, which provide a stable environment for children to be raised in, should be our frontline defence in protecting children.

“We need a fence at the top of the cliff, not just ambulances at the bottom.”

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan