Should politicians read expert reports on children when they make policies?

Senator Ian McDonald LNP is under fire for refusing to read the independent report on children in detention and the abuse inflicted on them by government policies. Last year Senator McDonald supported Prime Minister Abbott’s and lobbyist, Furness’, mission to make intercountry adoption faster and easier in Australia when he chaired the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee and dismissed expert evidence on the risks to children. The evidence provided by international organisations and academics was ignored by McDonald who preferred to push Abbott’s agenda rather then protect children.The LNP, particularly in New South Wales, have uncritically adopted Abbott’s position on adoption in Australia. It can only make one wonder whether McDonald read any of the reports submitted to the Committee because expert evidence did not support Abbott’s agenda. During the Inquiry, he did not want to hear about serious ethical concerns relating to the accreditation of lobbyist-led agencies in Australia. Did he read any of the reports on intercountry adoption that were submitted? The outcome suggests a possibility he did not or simply chose to ignore it. Only the Greens considered the gravity of risk.

What disturbs me most about this government

Out of all the turmoil, ridicule and criticism one thing stands out for me about this government. These are the proud comments by Mr Abbot that he never looks at himself or engages in any form of self-examination.  Perhaps I don’t understand what he is trying to say, but it disturbs me every time I hear it and proves, to me at least, that we are being hammered by ideologues, somewhat scarier than mere self-interest. I have no doubt many of them really believe what they are doing is right and equally know there are a disturbing number who seem to be very in love with themselves and the thrill power brings. However both approaches bring the same result – a hardness towards the impact their actions have on people who live outside their own experience. Without examination of self, we just perpetuate what we are comfortable believing or go unquestioningly with our desires.

Jan Fook who writes on critical reflection in social work is right – some people just can’t reflect on self. Why is it important? Self-examination means exploring the consequences of our actions on all stakeholders, questioning our assumptions, evaluating and using evidence, and including the structural influences on problems and the biases in our own thinking about issues and their solutions. If critical thinking and the ability to reflect were skills taught to children from a very early age, the world would be a different place, politics would be different (and more effective) and there would be less chance hurting others in pursuit of ideals. Reflecting on self requires flexibility and openness. It allows us to evaluate and incorporate new knowledge and most importantly learn from our mistakes. Granted done properly it is not an easy thing to do and nobody always does it well – the trick is doing it. It is truly brave to self-examine. Boasting about avoiding it is flawed and weak.

I am sick of politics, sick of writing and tweeting about it but as a social worker it can’t be avoided when injustice and breaches of human rights occur.  And these have been shocking in Australia of late and I can’t give tacit approval through silence. So please start reflecting on self politicians and bring humanity back to Australia. Australians are proving they won’t put up with it. And truly I want to write about something, anything else!