A note reading ‘R.I.P. Little Angel’ was left among tributes at the scene.
A note reading ‘R.I.P. Little Angel’ was left among tributes at the scene.

Children on streets but we argue about sausage sizzles

OME things we may never be able to explain.

Like how a nine-month-old child is allowed to remain with parents living rough on the streets.

Allowed to endure a life on park benches at the heart of a sparkling city brimming with wealth.

Authorities were made aware the family were sleeping rough. They were aware that a baby and a two-year-old were among them.

Yet the children were not taken into care.

We have to ask, how can we, as a society, ever explain this?

A woman pays her respects at a tribute to the baby girl found dead in Surfers Paradise. Picture: AAP
A woman pays her respects at a tribute to the baby girl found dead in Surfers Paradise. Picture: AAP

We have such strict rules in this country, so many regulations. So many ways to get in trouble. Like failing to move your car after two hours. Or failing to vote. Or owning a rabbit, for heaven's sake.

Yet we leave a nine-month-old child to live on the streets.

We are a nation that can be moved to outrage by how a sausage is served on a slice of bread. Where the onions should be placed. A topic of such importance that even the Prime Minister gets involved.

Yet children are left on the streets.

We live in a state where the government can focus considerable time and resources on the name of a hospital.

A Dora the Explorer bag seen among piles of junk in a Southport squat house recently where thousands of needles were found.
A Dora the Explorer bag seen among piles of junk in a Southport squat house recently where thousands of needles were found.

Yet 21,000 are left to linger, homeless, on the state's streets.

Among them children, babies included. Like the nine-month-old girl found dead on a Gold Coast beach this week.

We live in a place where there are protests in defence of potato farms, bitter battles fought over the habitat of swans. Where a masterplan is painstakingly crafted on the future of an isthmus.

But there is no masterplan for these children.

How can we explain this? How can we explain it to our own children?

How can we tell them that while they may live in a bubble of protection, of procedures and pool gates and car seats and special diets, in the very same city a nine-month-old is found dead on a beach.

The right way to conduct a sausage sizzle has generated far more heat recently than the plight of neglected children. Picture: AAP
The right way to conduct a sausage sizzle has generated far more heat recently than the plight of neglected children. Picture: AAP

There is no good explanation. No reasonable explanation. No excuse.

There is, however, a harsh truth. That despite what we claim, not all children are born equal. That on the Gold Coast, two very different societies can coexist.

The comfortable, middle-class society that most of us inhabit. The world in which our children are - as all children should be - loved and protected.

A world so comfortable that the presentation of sausages and the welfare of swans can be issues of some importance.

And then there's the other world. The one so close to us, but cast to the shadows, one most of us will never see.

Where a nine-month-old baby girl has no one to speak up for her, where she is left to sleep on park benches and die on a beach.

We can never fully explain how, as a society, we allow such horrors to happen.

We can only learn from the shocking wake-up call delivered as most in the city slowly arched from their comfortable beds, squinting, switching minds into gear for a new working week.

It's not that the issues we obsess over are not of some importance. They should all be considered, debated. The fact that there will always be someone worse off is no reason for general paralysis.

But our priorities look anything but straight. It's been clear for some time that children are being left in situations of great danger.

Too many are ending up in hospital with life-changing injuries. Too many are being laid out in tiny white coffins.

A small number of people have been speaking out. But few have been listening.

This must change.

We must, as a society, demand that innocents are no longer left in the care of parents barely able to care for themselves.

If it means a massive expansion of Child Services, and a rise in taxes to fund it, good. I'll gladly pay.

As a community, as a society, we must demand that this change happens.

This issue of neglected children is all too real - and should be the issue of our time. It should dominate the political conversation. It should define the next election.

If we can make a stir about less important matters, we can make a stir about this.

Otherwise, tragedies like the death of the poor baby girl found dead in the heart of our city will happen again.

Tragedies that could be prevented. Tragedies that defy all reasonable explanation.



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