Children are consigned to untrained staff, long waiting lists for counselling and health needs, hasty reunification with family who are then not supported to care for them: these are among the failings of the 'out of home care' system. KIERAN FINNANE reports from yesterday's community meeting with Royal Commissioners Mick Gooda and Margaret White (pictured).
The death, believed to have been a suicide, of a colleague triggers whistleblower revelations of "yelling at staff, imposing unreasonable workloads, isolating staff, spreading rumours, putting people down" and a string of other allegations by a "repressive gang" in the Alice Springs office. EXCLUSIVE by ERWIN CHLANDA. Image from the DCF website.
On one side of the ledger, victims, women in the main and girls, punched, kicked, pulled by the hair, beaten with sticks, threatened, terrorised, robbed. On the other side, perpetrators, all girls, and in many ways victims too. In four out of five cases, neglect by their families substantially contributed to their offending. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
It was a case that attracted widespread reporting and commentary back in June: a young mother was arrested and charged for an alleged assault on her 16-month-old son. The details of the allegation, made by the child's father and revealed by a police media release at the time, were shocking: the father said his wife had hit the child over the head a number of times with a can of soft drink, picked him up by one leg and slammed him into the ground three times and then into a fence, before holding his head under her arm and punching him to the head.
In court last week there was no-one in the public gallery to hear the evidence about what happened – apart from the Alice Springs News. In the witness box the father stuck broadly to his original story while the young woman firmly denied most of it, admitting only to shaking the pram in which she was pushing the child and slapping him on the cheek three times. She also admitted to threatening to kill the child, with the words "I'll kill your son", but she said, "I didn't do action".
The father's story was very similar to his account of another alleged assault on the child six months ago on Elcho Island. The mother again disputed most of the alleged facts. She denied having been drinking or having smoked ganja on both occasions and the court heard no evidence that she had done so, other than the father's account. However she pleaded guilty to both "aggravated assaults", the aggravation being that the victim was a child and she was an adult. KIERAN FINNANE reports.