A NSW minister has revealed how he wept while overseas and questioned his conviction that Australia was the best nation on earth when he heard the horrifying news about two NSW girls – a 14-year-old allegedly gang raped in a park and a 12-year-old whose father allegedly condoned her illegal "marriage".
"I shed a tear, more than one," Victor Dominello, the Minister for Citizenship and Communities, told the Premier’s Multicultural Media Awards on Thursday night.
He told the audience that he came to the event "with a heavy heart". He had just returned from India, where he had heard the stories about the girls.
Mr Dominello admitted he wondered: "What is happening to our country?"
Despite his long conviction about the greatness of Australia, he thought: "We may not be the best country on earth."
He despaired at what led boys and men to harm girls and women.
"We need to be raising boys to be gentlemen, who will protect our women, not raise a hand against them," Mr Dominello said to wide applause from the audience.
The alleged rape at Doonside ignited some racial tensions after the victim, from the Pacific Islander community, described her attackers as African.
Mr Dominello did not mention any ethnic groups but he stressed such crimes were not new, and he pointed out that the killers of Anita Cobby, who was abducted at Blacktown in 1986, had the names Murphy, Murdoch and Travers.
However, he implored the gathered media – as members of "the fourth estate" – to put the spotlight on the unacceptable treatment of girls and women.
A 16-year-old boy has been charged with one count of sexual assault over the alleged rape and will appear in court on Friday.