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Baby Theft Down Under
January 4, 2010 permalink
Australia has been among the world's most secretive countries about its child protection system. Newspapers print stories about coronial inquests into the death of foster children without so much as a name for the deceased child. While the prime minister has apologized for the stolen generation, today's children are stolen at an even higher rate. A story published in Adelaide, still without names, suggests that the press is catching on to the scope of the atrocity going on under its nose. If Australian reimbursements are similar to Canada, the 26 children taken from the four mums in the article are bringing FamiliesSA a half million dollars yearly more than they pay the fosters. Nuff said.
We asked for help - but they took our kids
Article from: The Advertiser, BRYAN LITTLELY, January 05, 2010 12:01am
TRIGGER-HAPPY social workers are taking children from their homes and creating a new "stolen generation", a group of distraught mothers claim.
The four women, with 26 children between them, say what started as cries for help became the catalyst that destroyed their families.
They say care workers bullied and threatened them and coerced them to put their children into care.
In some cases, the children were ripped from the arms of their parents outside court houses and schools without any warning.
The mums also say their children are now living in situations worse than the conditions they had at home.
Some have unsupervised visits with fathers convicted of child neglect and other crimes, others are separated from siblings and children as young as three have run away from foster homes.
Recent FamiliesSA figures show that at the end of June last year, there were 2111 children under care and protection orders, an 8.6 per cent increase on the previous year's 1943.
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There are now about 1780 children in state care, the office of Families and Communities Minister Jennifer Rankine confirmed yesterday.
The minister's office provided reasons for FamiliesSA intervention in each of the cases of the four mothers, and emphasised it was the Youth Court that assesses the department's applications and makes the protection orders. But the mums argue they face no charges of neglect and believe they are good and capable mothers who were "tricked" into handing over their children to the state when they asked for help.
The mothers say FamiliesSA social workers have been "jumpy" and "trigger-happy" since June, 2008 when 21 children were found living in squalid conditions at Parafield Gardens. Six people face child-neglect charges over that case.
All four mothers who approached The Advertiser to tell their stories say they have never been charged with any child neglect crimes.
MUM 1, a 21-year-old from the southern suburbs, has lost the neat, comfortable rental property she had secured to raise her two young children. She says FamiliesSA has not only "stolen" her children, but also her joy of being a mother. She first came to the attention of the service when she and her mother asked for help to deal with her six-week-old daughter.
"They told me that they would help me to get on my feet, that the order would only be for six weeks and I would get her back," the mum said.
"Three months after she was born, I was pregnant. The order got extended to 14 months and throughout my pregnancy they threatened to take my baby away when he was born."
Her daughter was returned to her care and she looked after both children until December, 2008, when her son, now aged three, was admitted to hospital with head injuries sustained while he was in the care of a babysitter. The mother claims her son was in the babysitter's care for just 15 minutes.
No charges were laid over the incident but both children were taken from the mother and are now in the care of their father's parents.
The father lives in the home with the children but an order states he is not to have unsupervised access to the children, the mum says.
The mother says she now lives with her parents and they would like to help her raise her children in that home. But they have only recently been allowed limited unsupervised access to the children.
She said she is required to undergo a psychological assessment before her case can progress and that the current guardians have taunted her, saying she would never get her children back because they are now accredited foster carers.
MUM 2 is a 26-year-old mother of six who was herself under the care of the state as a child.
"I was under the guardianship of the state from 11 to 18 and I learnt what I know about being a mum from FamiliesSA," said the southern suburbs mum, who is pregnant.
"When I needed help with my five-week-old twins, I had to turn to them for help . . . that's all I knew to do.
"They said I would get my boys back, but I can't see that I will get my boys back and now they have taken my other four children.
"I am pregnant and I am scared they will take my baby away, too."
The young mum said her infant twins were taken from her more than a year ago and her other four children - whom her current partner had helped care for - were placed under a protection order in November.
She said she now only has supervised visits with her children, for a few hours twice a week, while the father of the four eldest children has unsupervised access despite having being jailed for child neglect of her eldest son.
"The three eldest kids were taken from school . . . We didn't even know it was happening," the woman's partner said.
"We had our three-year-old daughter with us and they were forcibly removing our girl from my arms. I was distressed and they handcuffed me when they did it."
The mother said: "They are creating the new stolen generation.
"I just want to be a mother. I want for my children to not have to go through what I went through as a child in the care of the state."
MUM 3 lives in the northern suburbs, has 11 children, and seven of them were living with her.
In November, five children were taken from her outside the Youth Court under a protection order.
She said the children who were put into care, aged 3-11, had all tried to run away from their foster home.
These included a four year old and a five year old who had both tried to hitch-hike home. After a month in foster care, they were placed in the care of their grandmother.
The mother's lawyers wrote to the mother, saying the magistrate overseeing her case deemed the foster care home had not provided "superior care" to that which she had offered.
In May, the mother admitted in a TV interview to being a neglectful parent when she was evicted from a rental property because of the putrid environment she lived in.
This week, she told The Advertiser she had done the best she could and had asked for help in a bid to adequately provide for her children.
"This is the worst experience of my life," the mum said.
"The minister . . . needs to come out here and talk to people like me to work out what's going on."
MUM 4 is the 32-year-old Frewville mother who had seven children removed from her care on Christmas Eve. She said she handed her children to social workers on the promise they would be kept together.
She first visited the children briefly five days after they were removed and she says they are being cared for in four different homes.
Source: Adelaide Advertiser