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How to help children after Batty trauma

Children who witnessed the killing of 11-year-old Luke Batty at a Melbourne oval could re-enact the event as a playful coping mechanism.

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Parents should not be alarmed by this, says a clinical psychologist.

It can be a child’s way of processing what’s happened.

“An adult might talk about it. A child might re-enact it,” said Dr Ben Buchanan of the Victorian Counselling and Psychological Services.

Parents should speak to their child about what they are feeling. But he said it’s OK if they do not need to talk.

“Different children will react in different ways,” Dr Buchanan said.

“Some will sail on through with no obvious reaction. Others might become anxious. They might have sleeping problems, nightmares and a fear of being alone.”

He said families should not avoid the oval and children should get back into their usual routine.

Those who live near the oval in particular should get back to normal.

“If there is avoidance of the stimulus that reminds children of traumatic events then it can perpetuate the trauma.”

Parents should be concerned if a child’s distress does not subside after eight to twelve weeks, said Kate Carnell, CEO of the beyondblue depression and anxiety organisation.

“If not, it could be post traumatic stress disorder. This can be treated much more easily in its early stages than if it is allowed to develop.”

Dr Buchanan said families should make their own decisions about attending memorial events.

“We have particular social conventions around death that mainly serve to comfort adults. Children experience trauma and death in a completely different way.

“If the child expresses an interest in wanting to go, then sure. But if a child knows that it’s on but does not express a need to go then I would not be pushing them.”

Yearly events and reminders also might not be helpful for children.

“That is an adult way of coping, the yearly memorials,” he said.

“What is important is not putting adult ways of coping onto the children.

“They should be allowed to talk about it when they are ready and not stopped from re-enacting the events as a part of play.”

If children have social withdrawal, nightmares, sleep problems or anger and aggression in the weeks afterwards, parents should consult a GP about a referral to a psychologist, he said.

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Nanjing seeks UNESCO listing for massacre

Documents related to the Nanjing Massacre are being submitted for inclusion on a UNESCO list by authorities in the Chinese city after uproar over a Japanese bid to include suicide pilots’ farewell letters.

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According to Thursday’s Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post, it is the third time that Nanjing has submitted the documents for inclusion in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, which also includes such items as the diary of Anne Frank and Britain’s Magna Carta.

The cache includes documents related to the atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers in the eastern Chinese city, where Tokyo’s imperial forces went on a six-week spree of rape, slaughter and destruction from December 1937.

Estimates of the dead range as high as 300,000 people, although some are much lower.

The papers also include files on the use of “comfort women” forced into sex slavery by Japanese troops, the newspaper said.

Relations between Beijing and Tokyo are heavily coloured by their shared history, and tensions have escalated amid a row over disputed islands controlled by Japan but claimed by China.

A senior manager at Japanese national broadcaster NHK, Naoki Hyakuta, drew fire earlier this month when he denied that the Nanjing massacre had ever taken place.

“Countries in the world ignored the propaganda produced (by then-Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek) … that Japan’s troops carried out a massacre in Nanjing. Why? There was no such thing,” Hyakuta said, according to the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun.

Another NHK official said last month that the practice of forcibly drafting women into military brothels during World War II was “common in any country at war”.

The Japanese city of Minami-Kyushu drew widespread condemnation last week when it made a bid for the inclusion of letters written by World War II kamikaze pilots on the UNESCO register.

The Chiran Peace Museum – named after the small Japanese town from which kamikaze planes would depart on their flight of no return – is seeking the documents’ inclusion “to forever hand down the letters to generations to come as a treasure of human life”, it says on its website.

Both Beijing and Seoul swiftly blasted the move, which Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying contended was “an effort to beautify Japan’s history of militaristic aggression”.

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NSW rally hears of babies ripped from arms

Tearful grandmothers have rallied outside NSW Parliament on the anniversary of the stolen generation apology, with warnings the mistakes of the past are being repeated.

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On Thursday, six years after then-prime minister Kevin Rudd stood in parliament to formally say sorry for the pain inflicted on thousands of indigenous people taken from their families, activists gathered on Sydney’s Macquarie Street with claims little had changed.

“Sorry means you don’t do it again,” read signs posted outside parliament and draped across an empty stroller.

Aunty Hazel, from Gunnedah in northern NSW, said she had watched four of her grandchildren being taken into state care.

“Our babies are being ripped out of our arms,” she told the small crowd.

“They’re being isolated and alienated from us, their families. We are unable to pass down our culture, our heritage.”

NSW Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward agreed there were too many NSW Aboriginal children in out-of-home care and that their ranks continued to swell.

But she said the rate of removal has slowed from pre-apology levels.

Ms Goward said caseworkers only acted to remove a child if their home life was desperate.

“You can’t leave children when they’re at risk of being murdered, or starving to death,” she told AAP.

“I would like to think that these grandmothers want to work with us, want themselves to ensure that these children are kept safe.”

Asked to respond to protesters’ claims that some children were being taken away with no early intervention or prior warnings from authorities, Ms Goward said such cases were rare.

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Labor predicted 6% jobless rate: PM

The jump in the unemployment rate to a decade high is unlikely to rattle the Reserve Bank into making a quick cut to the official cash rate.

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Economists argue that while the rise in the jobless rate to six per cent was worse than financial markets had been expecting, the central bank has been anticipating the increase with the economy running at a sub-trend pace.

It was a theme that carried into parliament on Thursday following the release of the labour force figures for January.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten asked the prime minister when the government was going to offer a real plan for employment – when one job had been lost every three minutes since the federal election.

“I very much regret the fact that unemployment is edging up,” Tony Abbott told parliament.

However, he noted that the last economic statement of the former Labor government predicted unemployment would reach 6.25 per cent in the first half of this year.

“So what’s happened is that unemployment has done what members opposite said it would do under members’ opposite own policies,” he said.

Treasurer Joe Hockey agreed the figures were not unexpected and were the unfortunate reality of six years of Labor government.

“They indicate the size of the challenge we have before us,” he told reporters in Canberra.

But Labor employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said the data showed the participation rate of those people in work or actively seeking employment was lower than at any time since April 2006.

“Eligible people have stopped looking for work because they have no confidence that the government is helping create the environment to produce jobs,” Mr O’Connor said.

The jobless rate of six per cent was the highest since July 2003, although economists had expected the rate to only nudge up to 5.9 per cent after 5.8 per cent in December.

The number of people in employment also fell by 3700 when economists had expected a 15,000 increase. The full-time workforce fell by 7100, but was partly offset by a 3400 increase in part-time workers.

In its medium term forecasts for Australia, the International Monetary Fund expects the jobless rate to peak at 6.1 per cent in 2014 before easing to 5.8 per cent in 2016.

This coincides with economic growth remaining before trend or three per cent until 2017.

“With growth currently on the soft side, the real exchange still strong and efforts to reduce the budget deficit likely, monetary policy should remain accommodative,” the IMF says in its latest annual report on Australia released in Washington on Wednesday.