Hannah McGlade’s new book bravely addresses the complex and fraught issue of Aboriginal child abuse. She argues that Aboriginal child sexual assault has been formed within the entrenched societal forces of racism, colonisation and patriarchy, yet cast in the Australian public domain as an Aboriginal ‘problem’, with controversial government responses critiqued as racist and paternalistic. McGlade highlights that non-Aboriginal society has yet to acknowledge the traumatic impacts of the sexual assault on Aboriginal children which was part and parcel of the European project of ‘civilisation’.
She provides detailed analysis of the legal systems response. While child sexual assault is a criminal offence, the Aboriginal experience of the law is tainted. Despite reforms to the law, the courtroom experience is based on re-victimisation and trauma which prevents the fundamental principle of equality before the law.
McGlade believes that we should be guided by Indigenous human rights concepts and international Indigenous responses in addressing the problem. In doing so she believes that we can help to stem the harm to future generations.
“In this scholarly, textually dense and intellectually challenging work, Hannah McGlade, a Noongar Aboriginal woman and human rights lawyer, sets child abuse in the historical context of cultural trauma, but also asserts that the broader backdrop of patriarchy plays a significant role in the oppression of women and children by both white and black men.”
Jenni Connor – Early childhood expert & ECA publications reviewer