Judge Stephen McEwen terms child service officials "control freaks"
- Category: Judicial Corruption
- Created: Saturday, 16 February 2013 00:41
- Written by Adelaide Now Sunday Mail - Chief Court Reporter - Sean Fewster
The protection of troubled children has been hijacked by obstructive control freaks who rely on psychological advice instead of obvious solutions, a judge says.
Senior Youth Court judge Stephen McEwen has levelled scathing criticism against the Department for Education and Child Development - formerly known as Families SA.
In a transcript obtained by the Sunday Mail, he said the department was paralysed by its reliance on a team of highly paid psychologists. He said dedicated, caring social workers had been handcuffed and vulnerable children left at risk of further harm.
"If this sounds a little bit like a dummy spit, that's because it is," he said. "I'm just sick and tired of that entire department being obstructive control freaks, constantly throwing up pseudo-reasons dressed up in social work speak for refusing to just have a look at the blindingly obvious.
"They hire people who are social workers who are trained and probably want to do social work, but they don't let them because no one will do anything without running it past a bunch of psychologists ... I think it is just utterly pathetic."
Judge McEwen was hearing the case of a boy, 14, charged with trespassing and theft offences.
At a hearing last year, he was told the boy repeatedly ran away from juvenile detention to live with his brother, 15, who was being housed at a different youth facility. He ordered the department to house the boys in the same facility as soon as possible to lessen their chances of reoffending.
This week Judge McEwen was told that had not occurred. Instead, the department's experts were "assessing the possibility" of supervised contact.
"A bunch of probably highly paid experts sat around at a meeting ... seven people all with titles like `senior this' ... and came up with that facile, pathetic nonsense," he said.
"What's happening in that department? I mean, do they have any stationery or do they have to send that to psychological services to decide whether to order any pens and papers? If they had a conference they wouldn't be able to provide coffee or biscuits because psychological services would be deciding what to provide."
Judge McEwen said the situation was shameful.
"Every one of those people who was at that meeting ought to go have a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror," he said. "We can't guarantee that (the boys) living together would work out and magically stop them offending ... but why not have a decent crack at putting them at the same place?"
It is not the first time Judge McEwen has criticised child protection services.
In October 2010, he ordered Families SA to counsel an 11-year-old offender and his parents. The department refused to do so, claiming Judge McEwen had exceeded his jurisdiction. "I don't want to pull rank here, but I will if I have to. Unilateral variation of court orders is, quite frankly, not on," he said.
One month later, the department asked Judge McEwen to cancel that same boy's bail because he had disobeyed it and skipped school.
"You've got a lad here who the department want me to jail - the very same department who did not do what I required of them," he replied.
"I won't put him in custody unless someone from the department shares a cell with him."