"We need to talk about corporal punishment."

It can no longer just be a moral, individual decision.

Jason Deller made national headlines recently when he was recorded on a café’s CCTV footage viciously slapping his toddler across the head and pouring a jug of water over his baby. 

The independent political Queensland candidate told The Courier Mail that he had a “conversation” with officers about the incident after a diner at the café called police, but no charges have been laid.   Mr Deller, who has since withdrawn his candidacy, elaborated further, saying what occurred could be seen in any park on any given day.

If that is the case, then maybe it’s time to step back and look at the bigger picture.

The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children cites 42 countries and/or states around the world where children are protected by law from all forms of corporal punishment. That is the use of physical force such as smacking as a means of discipline.

Whilst our neighbor, New Zealand has abolished corporal punishment of children since 2007, Australia is yet to join the initiative.

A screenshot of Channel 9’s exclusive footage of Jason Deller.

Regulated at state level, corporal punishment in the home is lawful throughout Australia under the right of “reasonable chastisement”. New South Wales have a provision under the Crimes Act (Section 61AA Defence of lawful correction) for a defence of force applied for the purpose of punishment of a child, providing the force is not applied to any part of the head or neck.

Hitting a child is not a legal issue, rather a moral dilemma.

The corporal punishment dilemma in Australia is on the international radar.  The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Australia is a signatory, “requires parties to take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence” – Article 19 (1).

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has repeatedly criticised Australia’s effort in respect to corporal punishment, and regrets that it “remains lawful throughout the State party under the label of so-called ‘reasonable chastisement’”.


The CRC further recommends that Australia “take all appropriate measures to explicitly prohibit corporal punishment”.

And yet, still the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), is silent on the topic.  While the framework acknowledges that “Australia needs to move from seeing ‘protecting children’ merely as a response to abuse and neglect to one of promoting the safety and wellbeing of children”, it does not address the issue of smacking. Instead, in conjunction with the Family Support Program, the National Framework supports and promotes positive parenting.

As a parent I can understand Mr Deller’s frustration.  I know how challenging the role as a parent is.  Every positive, precious moment is savoured as a hard fought victory, having pushed forward through a thousand crappy battles to get there.

Yet I do not condone his actions.

While the boundaries on physical punishment remain blurred and open to interpretation, frustrated parents can lash out without regard for ramifications.

Maybe it’s time the Australian Government stood alongside countries such as New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Spain and upheld its promise to our children by taking the hard line and abolishing corporal punishment.

Because if Mr Deller is right, I don’t want to witness his actions echoed by parents in any park on any given day.

What do you think? Should we ban all forms of physical disciplining of children? Or should parents be able to make their own decisions free from the law?

Want more? Try:

“My true feelings regarding my home birth experience.”

“A nutritionist looked inside my kids’ school lunchboxes…”