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When children say they feel safer on the streets than at home, we must act

The Commissioner for Children and Young People has commended Port Hedland police for listening and responding to the views of vulnerable children and moving to reduce access to full-strength alcohol.

The Commissioner Colin Pettit said reports from Port Hedland police that children are on the streets at night because it is safer than being at home where adults are drinking heavily are sadly not new and not isolated to one town.

“I have heard first-hand from children in other areas of WA that they do not feel safe and that their wellbeing suffers when there is excessive alcohol consumption around them,” Mr Pettit said.

“When your parents get drunk you will be worried all night when you sleep and you will be crying” – 10 year-old
“When someone drinks I feel sad because they don’t look after me.” 7 year-old

(quotes from Kimberley children during a consultation in late 2016)

“Last year I consulted almost 100 young people in contact with the justice system and they clearly identified that being exposed to drug and alcohol use at home and the dysfunction this caused as a factor for them getting into trouble. 

“The link between excessive alcohol consumption and child protection issues has been well documented, alongside the damage done by exposure to family and domestic violence.

“We must act on what these children say and make every effort to stop the neglect and abuse.

“These issues affect every WA community and I encourage people to support agencies that are working to break the tragic cycle of disadvantage some children experience.

“Reducing access to alcohol is not a solution alone, but it must be included in any comprehensive plan where alcohol abuse is affecting children.”