Summit topics silenced: Riley

Youth Off the Streets founder Fr Chris Riley says that he could not get a mention for the subject of child abuse at last weekend's 2020 Summit and accused summit facilitators of pushing their own agendas.

Fr Riley also criticised World Vision Australia chief Tim Costello, who co-chaired the Strengthening Communities stream with federal Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek, The Australian reports.

According to the Summit final document participants discussed "the damage inflicted on communities by problem gambling and binge drinking" and supported "reducing the number of poker machines or tighter regulation of alcohol".

But Fr Riley said: "I didn't hear the words 'gambling' or 'poker machine' at any stage of my time there."

"I don't know how that got in. I'm really concerned about leadership in this field. Tim Costello's got his own agenda, and it's just not appropriate."

Fr Riley told The Australian he could not even get the subject he had come to the summit to discuss, child abuse, included on any of the sheets of butchers' paper the facilitator used to list ideas.

Child abuse expert Freda Briggs, from the University of South Australia, agreed with Fr Riley, the paper says.

"I pointed out that abused children in this country are severely disadvantaged, especially when they get into the justice system," Professor Briggs said.

"The facilitator snapped and said, 'I am not going to write that down'. From the very beginning, the discussion topics were preordained. Chris and I were systematically silenced.

"Having listened to other people talk about disadvantage - refugees, migrants, lesbians not having equal rights - nobody mentioned children all day."

Professor Briggs confirmed she "did not hear gambling being talked about at all".

A spokesman for Mr Rudd said last night the final text of the summit's initial report was "finalised by agreement between the co-chairs of the individual streams".

A spokesman for Ms Plibersek told The Australian: "The 2020 Summit facilitators worked very hard to ensure that, as much as possible, all summit participants had an opportunity to be heard."

SOURCE

Bright ideas fade under controversy (The Australian, 23/4/08)

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Australia 2020 Summit

Youth Off the Streets

World Vision Australia

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