End Child Protection Apartheid
IN response to last week’s column on tragic Kiesha Weippeart, bashed to death by her mother at six, a social worker contacted me. She wanted to add her voice to the chorus demanding an end to the child protection apartheid which condemns indigenous children to subpar care.
For fear of creating another “stolen generation” state and federal agencies persist with policies which keep indigenous children too long in abusive homes, and require indigenous foster carers, despite chronic shortages. In Kiesha’s case, a court overturned a decision she be kept in foster care for reasons which are shrouded in secrecy but which are suspected to include her indigenous heritage.
“We work with this every single day,” said the NSW Family and Community Services caseworker, who asked to remain nameless.
“If little Kiesha was not Aboriginal she would be alive and well today, thriving and being cared for by loving carers. Her mother would not have been given the opportunity to murder her.
“Caseworkers do their best to keep families together but when this puts a child at risk of serious harm we have no choice but to keep that child safe and sometimes that requires removing the children from their family.
“[We] make recommendations to the court, but in the end that magistrate who has never met the children, and never seen the abuse they have endured, makes whatever decision they feel like. The fallout from the stolen generation and National Apology is a ridiculous. Aboriginal placement principle policy that we have to follow constantly leaves Aboriginal children in unsafe situations.
“This policy shows Aboriginal children that they are second-class citizens because the abuse and neglect they endure has to far exceed that of a white Australian child before we act. This policy restores Aboriginal children to unsafe situations or to family members that are not fit to look after a dog, let alone a vulnerable child, just because they are Aboriginal. This policy removes children from loving, safe, secure foster families and places them back with ‘family’ just because they are Aboriginal.
“The same families that have generations of severe abuse and neglect are given the opportunity to continue this. How can this be in a child’s best interests?”