One of the worst experiences of my working life was practising law as a staff solicitor for a law firm in South Auckland. Part of my role was to make applications on instructions from CYFS staff for care orders, guardianship orders and adoption orders for children under the care of the government.
I became increasingly uncomfortable with my part, not just as a professional doing my job, but as a human being.
Sadly, my experience was that the primary motivator for most of the adults involved with these children was money.
Money to the psychologists for their reports, money to the lawyers for their documents and court appearances, and ultimately money for the people in whose care these children were placed.
Not one of the people who were putting up their hands to take on the care of these children, in all the files I worked on, were self-supporting. All were beneficiaries.
The care orders--or if one is being cynical, the control of these young lives--were simply a means to a notch up on the benefit ladder, a means to quicker state housing, and a means to ensure continued access to taxpayer-funded systems supposedly in place to ensure the wellbeing of children.
The calibre of these people was, to be brutally honest, often so inadequate I would hesitate to leave my pets in their care, let alone a child.
The "whanau" preference, as set out in legislation, is failing miserably. Sadly, the best thing for many children at risk, brown skin or white, is to get them as far away from their "whanau" as possible, until such time as those children have had the opportunity to experience life without abuse, violence, poverty and welfare dependence. Without that opportunity they do not stand a chance, and neither do their children, or their children's children.
Carmel Claridge, Kohimarama
Letters to the Editor
Saturday, 31 December 2011
A Dirty Little Secret