Adelaide parents in Parliament House rally against child abuse

HUNDREDS of concerned parents and carers have taken part in a rally against child abuse in Adelaide, calling for tougher minimum sentences and more transparency from authorities.

Rally organisers will also deliver a petition to government calling for more resources for child protection workers.

They have promised monthly events for the rest of the year to keep pressure on Families SA and government ministers.

Public attention has been focused on child protection by high-profile cases, including coronial inquests into the death of four-year-old Chloe Valentine in 2012 and baby Ebony in 2011.

Both girls died in the care of their families, not the state.

Last year, revelations that a Families SA carer had been charged with sex offencesagainst children in his care sparked a Royal Commission, which is expected to report to government by mid next year.

About 200 people, including young children, attended the Stop Child Abuse Australia rally from Adelaide Oval to the steps of Parliament House.

Organiser Robert Cameron praised the turnout but said it was also “a little upsetting” to learn that many in the crowd had been victims of abuse.

Among those who addressed the gathering was John Barnes, the brother of Alan Barnes who was killed in 1979 at the age of 17.

Alan was among five young men killed in the so-called Family murders.

John Barnes told the rally crowd: “The responsibility lies with each and every one of us here. We are not going to let this happen anymore.”

Speaker Wayne Bradley called for more transparency from child protection authorities.

“Parents have a right to know if their children have been in harm or near harm, immediately,” he said.

Another speaker, Scott Nickles, said sentences given to child abusers were “grossly inadequate”.

“Its not the maximum penalty that is the issue, it comes down to the fact that the minimum sentences for child pornography and child sex offences are way too lenient,” he said.

Former ward of the state, now author and advocate, Ki Meekins said both Labor and Liberal governments had “failed to do their duty of care” to protect children.

“Accountability, transparency and openness has been thrown to the dogs,” he said.

The State Government has accepted 19 of 21 recommendations from the inquest into Chloe Valentine’s death, including tightening legislation, improving social worker training and extending income management for certain parents.

Families SA has also run internal reviews and made policy changes.