HAVE YOU ever noticed how the number of social maladies keeps outpacing the increasing numbers of social workers hired to solve them? Why, it is almost as if it’s a scam or something – the more hand-wringers, the more problems they seem to discover. A little story in today’s Phage would seem to be the proof.
The article is reproduced in full below, along with what would seemto be some pertinent questions and observations:
A day in the Children's Court
THE big man with the tattoos fumbles for tissues as the magistrate gives her interim ruling that he can return to the family home with his wife and four young children. The day before the Children's Court hearing, Department of Human Services officers arrived suddenly at the family home and issued an ultimatum: he had to leave immediately - or the children would be taken into the custody of the state.
Social workers have this authority? Remarkable!
Now, 24 hours later, the entire family is assembled in the Children's Court. While the mother and father sit anxiously in the courtroom as the intimacies of their family life are revealed, the children wait outside in the foyer.
''If you had the 'luxury' of sitting here for a week; you would see an infinite variety of complex and nuanced situations - this is just one of them,'' says Andrew McGregor, who was among six lawyers sitting at the bar table last Tuesday.
Six lawyers, the case worker(s), a magistrate and an unstated number of court functionaries and support staff – that is quite a crew. This must be serious, so what is the source of all this drama?
The anatomy of this family crisis, like many matters before the Children's Court, is convoluted. The state's intervention in the household began late last year, when the oldest daughter, 13, alleged her father had touched her breast. She later retracted the allegation, saying she made up the story because she was afraid that he would hit her for leaving the gate open and enabling the family dog to escape. The pet was run over by a car.
So, even though the kid lied, that was enough to prompt an invasion of social workers who – Surpise! Surprise! – still managed to come up with reasons why the taxpayer must continue to to fund their stickybeaking.
Acting on the original allegation, however, protective concerns were lodged with the Department of Human Services last year.
The daughter’s accusation was groundless, but “protective concerns” trump the facts on the ground.
On that first visit, police went to the family home with welfare officers. The mother took out an intervention order against the father and he left the home.
Why would Mum file such an order? Quite possibly because the social workers threatened to make off with the kids if she did not. To ensure that prospect sinks in, police have been diverted from more worthwhile pursuits.
Some weeks later, he had returned by agreement (the intervention order was varied).
Mum and Dad have jumped through hoops and filed papers to get him back into his own home, where he belongs. Ah, but not everyone is happy….
The DHS remains concerned about the children's physical and emotional wellbeing. Although there have never been any other reports about the family, they say the father has been physically punishing his children and fighting with his wife.
The initial charge was a lie and there is no evidence of abuse, but the social workers are not going to let their painstakingly constructed make-work project fall to pieces. A man fights with his wife? Shocking! He smacks his daughter? Nice, upper-middle-class families – the sort that produce social workers – don’t hit kids. Dammit, they are going to have that big Islander brute out on the street. After all, arrogant white yuppies know best!
But should he be forced out of the home? That is not a decision for DHS to make. It is up to Children's Court court to decide.
It should never have been before the court in the first place. If not occupied with this drama, the court might have found the time and resources to deal with those teenage vandals who two weeks ago spray-canned the new fence of an elderly widow who lives just up the street from the Billabong. Those rascals were not apprehended, possibly because lots of police officers were serving as muscle to squadrons of predatory social workers.
Each parent is represented by a lawyer in the hearing. There are three separate lawyers representing the children's independent interests. The children have made it clear in private interviews that they want their father back.
There was no basis to the initial charge. There is no sign of abuse. The wife and kids want him home – and yet this matter still requires the attentions of half a cricket team of learned friends, each paid from the public purse.
Chastened by the intervention order, the father's behaviour appears to have changed.
What was wrong with it in the first place?
A key piece of evidence in the case are graphs each child has independently provided to the DHS welfare officers in which they plot a much improved change of atmosphere in the household.
Dad should consider himself lucky his tormenters stuck to simple charts. If they had brought out the anatomically correct dolls he could have been in real trouble.
The father and daughter have also signed up for a range of counselling and community support services.
His “behaviour” has changed or is it his attitude? We can deduce that he is no longer raising a fuss about being booted and harassed for no good reason, perhaps having concluded that he cannot win, has no choice and is obliged to become complicit in the madness that has made his life a torment. Anxious to keep a good thing going, the social workers have brought in their mates for ongoing “counselling and community support services”. This family is going to be a nice little earner for years and years to come.
The situation is also further complicated by cultural factors. The family has been in Australia only a short time, and have a Pacific Islander background in which physical chastisement is acceptable. In a role reversal, the father, who is a shift worker, has also become primary carer. The wife combines work with tertiary study and has had to hand over some sensitive household matters to him.
In the hanky-wringers’ own homes, such a father would be regarded as an exemplar of modern, enlightened non-sexist parenting. Ah, but social workers’ fathers are not likely to be dusky sons of the islands, of whom your open-minded and progressive sorts are apparently obliged to think only the worst.
She has revealed to the welfare officer their teenage daughter has been refusing to shower, and the father has reluctantly had to deal with the issue of the daughter's personal hygiene.
How can he deal with it after what he has been through? If he gets her angry, she may ring those social workers and have him thrown out on the street again. The wonder here is that yet another cadre of DHS interferons is not on the way to the family home, possibly with police escort, to initiate and oversee soap-support services and ablution intervention.
Despite resistance from DHS, the magistrate rules in favour of the father returning home immediately. Although there will be another hearing, she is satisfied he does not present an unacceptable risk to his children.
Reluctant to let go of a good thing, DHS is still intent on crucifying poor old Dad.
That poor family. Whatever joy it experienced upon being granted official permission to re-unite, it is still being watched. It’s London to a brick they will get to see further close-up examples of the Caring Industrial Complex in action.