by Mike Keating on Wednesday, 2nd of April 2014
In 2011, a major government report was prepared for the federal government called “For Kid’s Sake …. Repairing the Social Environment for Australian Children and Young People”
Parkinson has produced a well written and presented report that contain chilling data as to the condition of Australian children. "There is a canary in the coal mine that provides early warning about the extent of social problems we are facing, and this is in the child protection system" (Parkinson, 2011, p. 6). He then provides a survey of the contours of the landscape of social issues facing the 'kids'. The facts are is that family breakdown is having a catastrophic effect upon society, and especially among the children. There is a pandemic of mental illness and self-harm and services are overwhelmed. For example, there was a 66% increase in 12-14 year old self harming between 1996-2006 (Parkinson, 2011, p. 7). Parkinson suggests that a great deal of the cause lies in the fact that the number of children who experience the breakdown of their family prior to age 15 has doubled within a generation (Parkinson, 2011, p. 9).
It is good to see that report recommending a strong commitment to community based 'non-professional' programs to help with prevention. "It is important therefore to invest in building community capacity to strengthen family relationships and to support vulnerable families without over relying on paid professionals" (Parkinson, 2011, p. 10). This means that the Church is brilliantly positioned to be a part of the answer to address the malaise of family breakdown.
It is my prayer and hope that our church can lead the way in providing pathways of preventative care to families and children at risk. Our Play Centre is part of a strategic plan to engage with our community and alongside the ‘play’ to introduce the ‘stay’ and connect with a program or ministry and eventually be able to ‘pray’ to a loving God who has all the answers.
- Ps Mike