""No one should have the power to take children from their parents by force with armed police when they have not committed any crime and without evidence", letter to Goulburn Editor"
- Category: Forced Adoptions
- Created: Wednesday, 18 February 2015 07:06
- Written by Mary Moore
Thank you for your coverage of our rally outside the FACS office in Goulburn “Rights violated’ in child protection laws published on February 13.
Pru Goward’s response that she is "PROUD", is of great concern to all of us that have the lived experience of the child protection industry in NSW. Australian governments are forcibly removing more children per head of population then any other western nation with NSW responsible for this shocking statistic, with nearly half of all children in care removed by this state.
This is not a title to be proud of, it is one of great shame causing immense harm and trauma to vulnerable children and families that will impact for the rest of their lives and future generations.
Pru Goward ran a good campaign (and the uninformed general public believe her), of demeaning parents and deferring responsibility to the secret care courts, for deciding a child must remain in care when she is fully aware of the injustice of that jurisdiction that in most cases is nothing more then a rubber stamp for applications by FACS, with no defence afforded to parents.
If you have any doubts at all that children are being stolen in this state on a daily basis, go to the current Senate Inquiry into children in OOHC website and read Submission No 27 written by a solicitor – one of the very few who actually has tried to defend parents for the past 6 years (George Potkonyak). It describes exactly how children are stolen in the Secret Care Courts due to the “perverted interpretation and application of the Care and Protection Legislation” - as no evidence is required.
His submission also highlights that the NSW Government is breaking government contract transparency laws by not publishing any of the contracts with NGO’s since Pru Goward masterminded the selling of children in OOHC. This year the minimum price per child is $45,000 per year - that is a billion dollars of taxpayer’s money with no transparency or accountability. The ICAC needs to urgently investigate the money trail in this multi billion-dollar child protection industry.
Pru Goward talks of improved transparency, yet appears to been in breach of Section 15A of the Freedom of Information ACT 1989 Disclosure of government contracts with the private sector whilst Minister for FACS. As all contracts with the NGO’s involved in Out of Home care exceed $150,000 and do not appear to have been published. That is matter for the DPP, as no one should be above the law.
In addition, the financial incentives devised under Pru Goward’s leadership for NGO’s to forcibly adopt children in care in NSW, evidences the NSW Government is now paying NGO’s to dispose of Children in Care in this state. NGO’s receive in excess of $21,000 up front for every forced adoption assessment they start and more then double that on completion of the disposal of each child out of care to a forced adoption. How tragic that Pru Goward did not provide such financial incentives for restoration of children when she had the chance.
No one should have the power to take children from their parents by force with armed police when they have not committed any crime and without evidence.
Forced removals are still happening as a first resort with no investigation taking place, no warnings to parents and no help or support offered despite what Pru Goward informs.
Legal Aid Solicitors are under funded for Care and Protection matters resulting in inadequate or at times no legal defence for parents by their appointed solicitors. In most cases these LA solicitors pressure parents to consent “Without Admissions” or they will never see their child again and this just hands the children to the government and it is virtually impossible to ever get the children back. This deceptive and immoral practice must be stopped.
A recent trend is emerging where parents qualify for Legal Aid but then have their grant refused on the grounds that the case has “No Merit”. So traumatised parents are forced to try and defend themselves against crown lawyers with unlimited government funds because an office clerk has pre judged their case – that is not justice.
Appeals are not funded by legal aid nor are most applications for restoration so the children of the poor are stolen for the term of their childhood because parents can’t afford a good solicitor.
Where is the improved transparency that Pru Goward refers to when NSW again failed yet again to provide the statistics on how many children were abused in care last year when she was Minister? We do know that there were 500 reports of significant risk of harm to children in care in NSW a year ago as the DG Coutts- Trotter told the media that the reports had not been investigated and there has been no further information released.
There is no transparency or accountability with State Child Protection departments that refuse to publish the data for children who die and are abused in their care, this sets the example for NGO’s and continues the cover ups that have always been a part of the secret child protection industry as evidenced daily in the current Royal Commission. They must be forced by law to publish the data of children who are abused and die in their care including the alarming suicide rate of children and their parents torn apart and destroyed by the current alienating tactics used by child protection workers.
We believe it is in the best interest of the public to know about the breaches of law, the human right’s violations, and abuse of children and families by our governments but Right to Information is continually denied in Care and Protection matters on the grounds that it is not in the best interests of the public to know.
NSW is arguably the worst state of all leading the nation with the incredibly high number of children in care and legislating Pru Goward’s Neo liberal Social eugenics policies such as Forced adoptions to reduce costs.
Forced adoption of children in care has never stopped in Australia, it has just been hidden from the public and enacted in secret it is now time that this Human Rights atrocity is outlawed.
But instead Pru Goward and Debra Lee Furness financed by James packer (former defacto son in law of Pru Goward) got together to do a deal that would benefit all of their agenda’s - violating Human Rights and condemning another generation to the very same evidenced ongoing lifetime trauma caused by forced adoptions on every vulnerable child in care and their families.
Child abuse does not discriminate it is found in every class of society -Domestic Violence, Substance abuse, Mental Health Issues, disability, emotional, physical and sexual abuse and even neglect span all classes of Australian society but only the marginalised, disadvantaged and poorer class including the homeless have their children forcibly removed because the rich can afford to buy justice.
Debra Lee Furness has announced several times last month that 11,000 babies were removed from their mother’s last year in Australia - these alarming figures show that supply is under-way for the well off childless couples that want other peoples children, and so is another stolen generation.
We need laws that ensure NO newborn babies can be forcibly removed without a Court Hearing attended by both parties and evidence of abuse or neglect. The decision to remove a child and especially a newborn baby must be made by a Magistrate after a Hearing of evidence not by a caseworker as happens now.
We now have babies being taken from the maternity wards in this state and placed under 18 year final orders in less then 50 days with no defence afforded to the parents yet Pru Goward is Proud of her achievements while we are horrified.
Pru Goward’s dangerous social eugenics legislation was ratified in October last year making forced adoption legal and the first priority for children in care and since November numerous parents are being served with Forced adoption applications or notices of adoption assessment while still fighting hard to have their children returned to their care in an unjust system unable to afford the legal costs required because NGO’s are being paid huge financial incentives to forcibly adopt all children in care.
The forced adoption agenda is being spread around the nation by the rich, powerful and influential childless couples wanting other people’s children.
Forced adoption of all children in care in NSW can now take place without a parents’ knowledge let alone their consent and for children under 2 within 6 months, and those over 2 within 12 months which is a grossly inadequate and unjust time frame for families.
The latest propaganda is the concept that “OPEN ADOPTION” will make it all OK Debra Lee Furness is a good example of how “Open Adoption” is abused. She procured her oldest adopted son from the child protection system in the USA on an “Open Adoption” contract and broke all the rules by her own admission in an interview with Andrew Denton. Just one year after the adoption of her son Debra Lee Furness violated the “Open Adoption” contract and cut her son’s mother off completely. His mother like so many others committed suicide arguably caused by the grief and loss of her son and the selfishness of the adopting parent who wanted someone’s child all to herself.
Just like DLF closed her “open adoption” after one year so will others because the adoptive parents hold the power, it is not about the child it is about infertile people wanting a child of their own you just have to view any of the pro adoption chats rooms to evidence that.
We already have Long Term Guardianship orders which provide all the security a child needs in a loving home if they can’t be restored to their families. Adoption only serves those that can’t have their own children.
Yet fame, fortune, money and power has allowed Debra Lee Furness to run a campaign to market all children in OOHC for forced adoption when arguably many of those children have been stolen from their families. Most have families that love them and adoption should be for orphans not children who have families that love them and want restoration but can’t afford the legal fees.
Pru Goward and now Tony Abbot are only listening to the pro adoption lobbyists the well off that want other people’s children as it suits these politicians who make the laws because they can save money by reducing support services by taking poor people’s children and giving them to strangers for life because they have a nicer house and more money.
There is no legal definition for the “Best Interests of children” in State jurisdictions a term first used by Adolf Hitler for his own master eugenics plan. A term now used and abused to mean what ever the dominant and powerful want it to mean.
Until the forced removal of children by the state is a fair and just process based on evidence no stolen child in care should be forcibly adopted when they have families who love them fighting for their return.
Australia has had more then 80 Inquiries into children in state and territory care in the last 160 years. All have evidenced the system is a failure. But most of the recommendations were never implemented to fix the failures. We are hopeful that the current Senate Inquiry into OOHC will have a better result.
Only 2 submissions have had any media attention from the nearly 100 published so far on the Inquiry website.
Most advocate as we do for family preservation, because it is evidenced best practice but unless it is mandated in Law it will never happen because the respective departments do not work with families, they work against them and unless they are made to work with families by law and trained in how to work with families it just won’t happen. I sit in meetings with child protections workers as a support person and I have yet to observe a worker that knows how to even talk to families let alone work with them.
For all of us that have had the lived experience of the failed child protection industry we know that LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY in a major factor for its failure.
While Pru Goward and our governments talk of supporting families to stay together and only taking children as a last resort, in practice those principles are being ignored because there are no laws that compel the child protection departments to support families only laws that support governments to forcibly remove children without any evidence just a concern or opinion as no evidence in required in the secret care courts.
The financial facts evidence this very clearly. Only around 10% of funding nationally is spent on family support, 30% is spent on solicitors and legal costs and the remaining 60% is spent on the costs of Out of Home Care.
It is time to scrap the failed child protection systems and secret Care Courts run by the states and territory governments and for the Australian Federal Government to takeover jurisdiction of our vulnerable children.
We need new Federal legislation that incorporates evidenced best practice for family preservation, laws that are fair and just for every child no matter where they live in Australian, where evidence of a crime of abuse or neglect is required before a child is forcibly removed and human rights are protected with independent accountability to ensure integrity and higher standards to actually protect children.
Less then 5% of parents who have children in OOHC have been convicted of criminal abuse or neglect of their children and they are dealt with through the criminal jurisdictions. Do not forcibly remove any children unless there is evidence sufficient to warrant a charge of criminal abuse or neglect. In all other cases use that 30% of billions of dollars of funding wasted on litigation to intensively support families to remain safely together, as no crimes have been committed.
At the very least the secret care courts must be opened up to public scrutiny and the rules of evidence must apply with parents given the presumption of innocents until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt like every other jurisdiction in Australia.
Parents must be given equal access to legal representation funded at the same rate as child protection departments in keeping with Human rights and the right to be treated equally in a court of law.
All cases must be independently audited in consultation with families for Restoration especially in cases were children have been taken without evidence, were laws have been breached and for a possible future risk of harm which never acknowledges the harm done to a child from forced removal and life in care under the current failed system. As each child is restored funds are available to help and support families to remain safely together instead of removing their children. As restoration and family preservation will rapidly reduce the numbers of children in OOHC as has occurred overseas with family preservation models more funds will be available to implement prevention of child abuse and neglect programs nationwide. Within a decade massive sayings will be achieved, we will have stronger families and better protection of children that will continue into future generations and be in the best interest of children, their families and all of Australia.
Child protection workers are NOT a registered Profession in Australia. Unlike all other professions they have no Governing Body to establish and mandate codes of practice, conduct or even base levels of education and training. No external Board is monitoring their performance to protect the public from the harm their opinions and misconduct are doing to children and families everyday. No one is holding these unregistered caseworkers accountable in an environment of secrecy, yet they have more power then any other Professional in Australia.
As a Registered Nurse I am held accountable for all of my actions by AHPRA, as are all other health and medical professionals. If I treated my patients and their families the way I have witness child protection workers speak to children in care and their families, I would be disciplined, de-registered or prosecuted.
We urgently need mandatory National registration for all child protection workers so an independent governing body can hold them accountable for their misconduct and abuse of children and families.
Unregistered caseworker opinions are made without adequate investigations, as evidence is not required in the secretive Care Courts so Parents are denied justice because a caseworker has failed to adequately investigate the truth of allegations or lied in their affidavits. I am yet to read an unregistered caseworker’s Affidavit that does not contain defamation of parents, false allegations, and out right lies and I have read thousand’s.
That is how and why so many children are stolen in NSW.
There is NO external complaints mechanism in the Australian Child Protection Industry so evidenced complaints are NOT being investigated by anyone but themselves and the Department is NOT being held to account for their criminal misconduct when dealing with vulnerable families and abuse of children in their care by anyone. Failures are being ignored and covered up.
We urgently need a national independent complaints mechanism empowered with both investigative and prosecutorial powers where parents and children can go with their evidenced complaints of abuse, misconduct and crimes being committed against them by the child protection industry everyday to force accountability.
Cases are documented as substantiated not on evidence but on the opinion of a caseworker so all of the data that refers to substantiated cases is extremely flawed.
Over 60% of the 50,000 children currently in care were forcibly removed for emotional harm or neglect. The high numbers of emotional harm are for children exposed to domestic violence so start protecting the victims and remove the violent perpetrator not the child and stop the closures of Domestic Violence support services.
The high numbers of neglect cases are due mainly to poverty so help the family out of poverty don’t steal their children. This illustrates that there are at least 30,000 stolen children currently in care that should have received help and support to remain safely with their families. Restoration of these stolen children must be a priority of government.
NGO’s and other stakeholders must not be funded by Child Protection to reduce corruption. I have seen case after case where the departments manipulates stakeholders to get the outcome they want and threaten to withdraw funds if they don’t and this perverts the course of justice.
There must be a legally binding contract that states what parents have to do to get their children back and when they have completed all that has been asked of them their children are immediately returned. I have seen case after case where parents have done every thing asked of them and they still don’t get their children back.
Mandatory reporting laws are actually killing children because it is like searching for a needle in a haystack when trying to identify children that do need intervention. There are over 100,000 reports of children at risk and less then 30% of cases are ever sighted let alone assessed by a child protection workers in NSW. Qld has recently introduced a milder form of Mandatory reporting whereby a family at risk can be referred to a family support agency rather then the child protection department if the risk of harm is not significant. Unfortunately there is no legal or even clear definition of what “significant risk of harm” actually means.
We need Mandatory prosecution for any person knowingly making a false or misleading risk of harm report to child protection authorities. Currently anyone making a report is protected from both civil and criminal prosecution and this would not only give families some protection against false allegations but also reduce the amount of notifications by deterring false, malicious and vexatious reports.
We need Laws that mandate placements with extended family as that is not happening enough and suitable extended family are being overlook and parents must have the right to approve of the kinship placement to ensure their child is not placed in an adversarial situation that will severe the bond between the child and parent as commonly occurs now.
No longer can Pru Goward and governments plead ignorant. The damage to children taken from their families and placed with strangers, either fostered or adopted, is horrendous and lifelong. The damage to their parents has proven irreparable and is passed down to subsequent generations.
The only people benefiting in this multi billion-dollar Child Protection industry are the profiteering stakeholders many of whom are currently before the Royal Commission for their past and ongoing abuse of vulnerable children.
Without accountability this abuse will continue and Government’s will have NO defence when they are made to account for their abuse of another stolen generation.
Pru Goward will be judged harshly in future years just as she deserves for her destructive neo-liberal social eugenics legislation. Pru Goward already has the blood of vulnerable children and families on her hands. She new before becoming Minister for FACS about the injustice and the lack of accountability in the system, she new children were being stolen without evidence she promised transparency but instead did NOTHING to right the wrongs and just continued the secrecy and cover-up’s.
Before she became the Minister for FACS she was well aware of all the issues of injustice faced by vulnerable children and families and would respond personally to contact with her office, she even promised to restore 4000 children in her first year in office. However once she became Minister she ignored families and all the promises she made including more then 100 emails I personally sent to her.
While giving what appeared to be a tearful apology in Parliament for past forced adoptions Pru Goward had already drafted legislation to make forced adoptions legal condemning the next generation to the very same lifetime damage and trauma she was apologising for.
Pru Goward’s way has been to legalise the crimes of the past and in so doing she has violated the Human rights of vulnerable children and families. She had a chance to make things right an opportunity to implement laws that would ensure justice, transparency and accountability in the child protection industry but instead has breached government contract transparency laws and has done deals with the rich and famous to dispose of NSW children in care destroying lives forever.
If Pru Goward wants to contact me all she has to do is go back through her emails and reply to me. She is no longer Minister for FACS, the damage is already done, and nothing she can say now will ever make a difference.
Forgotten Australian, RN Intensive Care/Critical Care, Convener of the Alliance for Family Preservation and Restoration, Advocate and support person for Children and Families