Date 31st October 2012
Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill
I OPPOSE Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill for the following reasons:
The Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill is another example of legislation that will have little added effect on families who are currently neglecting both their children AND the law. The legislation you are pushing will, though, seriously impact the very families who are already doing the very best for their children in early and later education.
The families you are trying to address are already the high risk families that are overloading the books of CYF who have not yet provided satisfactory answers for them. I know this because I have made inquiries into providing a “home for life” for one or two of these children, and it became crystal clear to me that CYF is functioning in a way that is ignorant of the real needs of children for love, trust and security, as provided by a parent, or foster parent on whom they can rely to be ALWAYS THERE when they are needed.
My investigations into the ACTUAL workings of CYF uncovered the cruel fact that if I accepted a ‘temporary’ foster child, I could expect that one day, a social worker could turn up UNANNOUNCED on any day, even Christmas eve, to whisk my foster child away to his new, possibly permanent family as they did with TWO people I have now personally spoken to. I call this ‘child abuse’ when a child who has grown up in a home for twelve months as a baby and knows no other home, is torn screaming and in great distress, away from its only known parents – the foster parents.
Even if I were to provide a ‘home for life’ as was our intention – having successfully raised 5 children WITHOUT the interruption to their lives of abandonment to strangers in the good name of ECE – , although the children would take our family name, they would still “belong” to the Chief Executive of CYF, through whom every major life decision must be passed – no matter what differences in conviction we might have in the raising of these children. It is interesting to notice that, if we had no convictions or passion regarding the raising of those children, we would get along just fine in our nonchalance, and probably be thought of as perfect parents. Similarly, we noted that some of these major decisions are currently being made in some departments by CYF employees who have had no children of their own, but who admitted to us that they would be better offering parents advice on what to do with their cat than, for example, settling or burping a screaming baby.
So this is the background to forcing good parents, who have suddenly lost their means of income for several months, to then send their beloved and precious children – whether natural or fostered into the care of complete strangers. I have seen how this runs first hand. I have walked into a place where a child has been screaming for enough time to cause her major distress, with the supervisor insisting she had a severe case of separation anxiety caused by too dependent a relationship with her mother. She was not to be picked up or it would somehow perpetuate the problem. I was disgusted that generalised scholastics had taken the place of warmth, love and understanding in that child’s life. A carer with a masters degree in psychology (not that she probably had one) would not replace that child’s need for her mother on that day when she was obviously feeling scared and abandoned, whether reasonably, or unreasonably.
Our five children have five very different sets of personality, needs, ability and interests. If I have found that I must treat five children in an individual fashion in order to achieve the education required to bring each to maturity and wholeness as well-rounded and community minded adults who think of more than just themselves on a daily basis, then how is an institution to expect that kind of result by treating a multitude of children with the same yardstick.
To me, each person I meet is valuable and needs to feel that he or she is valued for his or her own individuality. Although any ECE centre would love to boast that they do this with ‘your children’, it simply cannot exist with the same quality that a caring parent can offer. The majority of a young child’s security is known to result from a secure bond made with a caring adult – especially a parent. What then results from being torn away from that parent at an age decided by legislation that makes no adjustment for the individual requirements of that child, or of the commitment and dedication of the parent to provide that child with a rich and full early childhood education at home, simply because the parent has lost a job, or worse, a spouse? Good parents must then live in unnatural fear of these circumstances.
What is the underlying basis for the MASSIVE suicide rate in our vulnerable teens? I would suggest that no matter what the financial background of the child, the underlying depression is imposed by a seemingly unanswerable hopelessness in life. Hopelessness would indicate a deep seated feeling that they are neither valuable nor important, nor able to change what seems inevitable – loneliness, rejection and pain on a daily basis. What is a mystery to me, is how legislation such as The Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill which seeks to impose unnecessary hardship and almost criminal status on innocent parents who will not abandon their child to the care of a stranger, is expected to improve the early foundations of security and value placed on their children. If parents have strong convictions about raising their own children to feel safe, loved, understood and valuable and commit to providing them with everything they need, no matter what their financial status, then these children will NOT be the ‘at risk’ and vulnerable children this misguided legislation is trying to address. These families are already providing a big part of the answer to our nation’s most difficult trials. It should not be illegal to look after your young children at home. Laws should be made for law-breakers, not to remove young children from loving homes. Enforced early childhood education does not provide answers to the major challenges in families lives. Even free early childhood education requires irresponsible parents to be sober enough to take their children to the centre but it cannot make them sober. The Bill is using innocent children as a lever to give social services such as Work and Income a quantitatively assessed (rather than qualitatively assessed) reason to remove either the benefit awarded to the parents, or the children from the home. What is new? Children, again are the victims – and I call that child abuse.