The Southern Cross : June 2012
June 2012 Page 7 www.thesoutherncross.org.au The Southern Cross news | By Rebecca DiGirolamo The spirituality of children and youth is being increasingly damaged by the escalating 'sexploitation' of women and girls and the growing consumption of pornography by young Australians, said Canberra author and anti-pornography campaigner Melinda Tankard-Reist. "Their spiritual life is being denigrated," Ms Tankard-Reist told The Southern Cross following a conference run by Catholic Education South Australia last month. "Children are not valued for themselves; their artistic expressions; their spirituality," she said. "We know from research that (sexualisation of women and girls) harms them emotionally but it has a deeper cost to their souls and their spiritual selves." Ms Tankard-Resit was a keynote speaker at the "Loved into Existence, Existing for Love" conference run by CESA in Adelaide on May 21 and 22. In her presentation to more than 100 conference delegates, Ms Tankard-Reist unleashed a collection of disturbing images and text used by companies to sell anything from stilettos for babies, bras for six-year-olds, "Tie-Me-to-the-Bedpost" blush for girls and toddler and baby makeovers. The music and games industry and media were lambasted for their pornographic depiction of, and male violence against, women and children (women in dog chains; women and children in poses suggesting sexual assault and violent deaths, games involving the rape of a mother and her 10-year-old daughter). Ms Tankard-Reist said the message being sent to young boys the largest consumers of pornography in Australia) is that "there is no intimacy" required in sexual relationships. "It's really all about what you can get a woman to do for you." This type of exposure, she said, was having a negative impact on children's attitudes to sex, relationships and body image. She urged the Adelaide Catholic community to take a stand. Ms Tankard-Reist said researchers have documented: a six-fold increase in rates of Chlamydia infection among 10 to 14-year- old girls over the past decade; 53.5 percent of girls aged 12 and under have seen pornography; 450 boys are currently on charges for child sex pornography; children as young as five are being treated for sexually abusing other children; and 30.2 percent of Year 10 girls had experienced unwanted sex. Catholic Education South Australia Religious Education consultant Marianne Farrugia agreed: "We are stealing childhood from our children". "This is an unprecedented assault on human sexuality," she said. But she said Catholic Education in South Australia was in a good position because it had a mandated sexuality education program which balanced the commercialised messages of sex as a commodity. "As a Catholic educator, I feel hopeful, because as a Church I do believe we have something wonderful and deeply human that we can say about sexuality and which society in general doesn't offer us." "We take a holistic approach where we consider sexuality in its fullest form, as integral to the human person, enabling us to live out our Christian vocation to love," said Ms Farrugia. Anyone interested in supporting Melinda Tankard-Reist's grassroots campaigning movement "Collective Shout" can visit www.collectiveshout.org. The movement names and shames those companies using sexploitation of women and children to sell products and services and has been successful in shutting down a number of inappropriate ad campaigns and withdrawal of products in the past two years. The Sisters of Saint Joseph are preparing to embark on a multi-million dollar upgrade of their aged care home in Adelaide's western suburbs under the Federal Government's new user-pays system, effectively future-proofing the MacKillop tradition of caring for the marginalised. Mary MacKillop Care SA Ltd (MMCSA) chief executive Marcia Fisher said the board had recently approved a $12 million, 70-bed aged care residential facility at Flora McDonald Lodge, in Cowandilla. The proposed two-storey aged care home of high and low care places on the existing Cowandilla site would include 32 new beds for elderly with dementia and those requiring palliative care, as well as providing accommodation for elderly migrants without a home to help reimburse aged care services. Mrs Fisher said the new facility could attract the growing number of baby boomers expected to flood aged care services in the western suburbs over the next 20 years and who were expected to be able to pay more for cutting edge and diverse aged care places. Their expectation for more choice and higher quality services was recently reflected in aged care reforms announced by the Federal Government. The Government's "Living Longer Living Better" plan unveiled in April has promised to deliver more choice, easier access and better care. "Our challenge is to provide quality accommodation to all our residents, not just those who can pay for it," said Mrs Fisher. The Cowandilla development is the first of a three-staged master development plan for the MMCSA. The plan includes an option for building a $21 million, 40-apartment self-funded retirement community in Kensington enabling residents 24-hour access to care. It also comes as MMCSA in June amalgamates the SOSJ's Ain Karim community -- an accommodation service in Enfield for adults over 20 with intellectual disabilities. "The reforms will benefit our expansion plans because they are based on a user-pays system, while still enabling us to maintain services for the most disadvantaged," said Mrs Fisher. She said Flora McDonald Lodge was currently home to about 83 elderly men and women, the majority of whom were full pensioners unable to afford a bond to secure higher-end aged care services. Construction of the new facility at Flora McDonald Lodge is expected to start at the end of 2012 pending the required approvals, with completion set for 2014. New model for caring tradition UPGRADE: Mary MacKillop Care SA Ltd chief executive Marcia Fisher (left) with independent living unit resident Pat O'Reilly at Flora McDonald Lodge, in Cowandilla -- the site of the proposed $12 million upgrade. Anti-porn activist shouts for help MAKE A STAND: Anti-pornography campaigner Melinda Tankard-Reist at a conference run by Catholic Education South Australia in Adelaide last month.