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Obstructive Control Freaks
February 11, 2013 permalink
Australian Senior Youth Court judge Stephen McEwen has lashed out at the Department for Education and Child Development, the agency responsible for foster children. Referring to a case in which the department insists on separating two teenaged brothers he says:
I'm just sick and tired of that entire department being obstructive control freaks constantly throwing up pseudo-psychological reasons dressed up in social work speak for refusing to just have a look at the blindingly obvious.
In an earlier case before the same judge, the child protectors refused to follow the judge's orders on a boy's placement. The judge had no power to enforce his own order on the department.
A press article followed by the judge's actual remarks follow.
Judge Stephen McEwen terms child service officials controls freaks
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."
Source: Daily Mail (Australia)
FULL transcript of Youth Court senior judge Stephen McEwen's comments:
"I made the radical suggestion that these two lads, who are both under guardianship, both been getting into trouble for a long time, both from dysfunctional backgrounds, and both often use the either reason or excuse that they're absconding from placements to be together, I made the radical suggestion that the department look at actually letting them live together under guardianship.
"You know what the department's response was? A bunch of probably highly-paid experts sat around at a meeting - I won't name them, I'll just count them - seven people all with titles like `senior this' and one of them's `senior psychologist'. You know what they came up with? `The following steps are recommended ... regular periods of structured' blah blah blah.
"I mean, every one of those people who was at that meeting ought to go have a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror. We can't guarantee (the boys) living together would work out and magically stop them offending, of course we can't. But are all of those highly-paid so-called expert people seriously suggesting that before they adopt - just give it a go, `suck it and see' I think is often the phrase used - what's the down side?
"What we've had for years and years is these two lads offending and being locked up for a long, long time. About seven or nine or something experts sit around at a big meeting and come up with that. That facile, pathetic nonsense. I mean, why not have a decent crack at putting them at the same place?
"For goodness sake, that department, Education and Child Development, are turning into control freaks who don't want to look at any suggestion by anyone. I mean, I'm just the Senior Judge of the Youth Court. They can look at one of my suggestions, assess it and say `well, it's not really worth going down that track'. But it doesn't seem all that radical to me. They're brothers.
"Here they are, all these people and the best they can come up with is `send it to psychological services'. 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.
"If this sounds a little bit like a dummy spit, that's because it is. I'm just sick and tired of that entire department being obstructive control freaks constantly throwing up pseudo-psychological reasons dressed up in social work speak for refusing to just have a look at the blindingly obvious.
"Now, I'm going to take this transcript and send it to whoever's in charge of Education and Child Development, if there is anyone in charge of it, because I think it is just utterly pathetic.
"Sure, they might put (the boys) in the same premises and they might abscond within a week. They haven't got great track records, either of them.
"I'd better be clear. Communities and Social Inclusion, which is the new name for what everyone understands to be Juvenile Justice, I've got no issue with. They do a great job, they do a terrific job. Not always perfect but then again neither am I. So I think we're all battling along the same boundary.
"For some reason, the crowd called Education and Child Development, which used to be called something else, but they do the care and protection stuff, I just don't understand what their culture is. Because they hire people who are social workers and who are trained and probably want to do social work, but they don't let them because no one else will do anything without running it past a bunch of psychologists. This is just sort of the high point or low point, whichever way you want to put it.
"Does that department really need a psychological assessment to tell them that it might be a good idea for two brothers aged 14 and 15 with dysfunctional backgrounds, no stability up to date in where they're been able to live under guardianship orders, and a record of offending, and knowing that they're young juvenile who might be just saying that as an excuse, but at the same time there might be something to it, do they need a psychologist to tell them it might be worth a crack to put them under the same roof for a while and see how it works out?
"As I say, what's going to be the down side?"
Source: Daily Mail (Australia)