Stop CPS targeting complex families removing kids on unjust discriminatory grounds

Stop CPS targeting complex families removing kids on unjust discriminatory grounds

16 September 2022
Signatures: 11Next goal: 25
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Why this petition matters

Started by Melanie Hotham

The pandemic has impacted us all especially low income families , and families where there are both mental illness (nothing harmful. Some anxiety , ptsd, depression, Covid impact related depression )  physical disability in parents , and neurodivergent children in a larger family. 

Info given without names for their protection. My dear friend and her partner have had an awful time during lockdowns with loss of work certainty , and a complicated pregnancy that almost killed her and meant her newborn could not come home straight away after the complex cesarean. My friend has a slip back disc , polycystic ovaries , and diabetes, after catching Covid her and baby developed a heart condition. It was a very stressful experience and having no visitors including myself or family allowed due to c-19 rules at the hospital made it a very lonely experience for both parents due to all the isolation from loved ones. I had my youngest around the same time as her previous child and that’s how we connected. When partner got kids to bed  with me , I would go babysit for them while her partner dropped off things for mum and baby in hospital. I helped as often as I could when they didn’t have someone else. 

The children were nothing but excited about a sibling , engaged with story telling , age appropriate and possible signs of autistic play like stacking and repeat lining things up like my own neurodivergent children had done at that age , and very well mannered. They were clean , happy , and fed.  We have been out with them to the play centre funtopia a couple of times between lockdowns as my daughter is same age as one of hers and toddler same age as mine with birthday close together.  Being low income families we know how long wait lists are for public health . Especially for things like Paediatrician, OT , Speech pathology etc. even public dentistry lists were extremely backlogged  in our area. I am still waiting to get back on the appointment list myself.  My GP hasn’t had time availability around kindergarten and school , etc for my own health care I have to follow up so I know for children at busy bulk bill places it was no different in that part of the pandemic , and for double appointments like going on a mental health care plan to support you through hardship.  

Their children are a now 10 month old approx ,almost 3, 5 and eldest 2 between 7 and 12 (but for their legal protection and privacy will not provide exact number for you, however I refuse to remain silent when they need me and I would do the same for anyone in that position when I know them 100% ).  

In short this is what has happened to date:

Signs of eldest struggling in school being ignored and dismissed every time parents tried to talk about it to them, child begins lashing out more at home, child has ODD , ADHD , PDA , and is somewhat on the spectrum but informally diagnosed due to delays and backlog on lists.

The parents were in that process . The did positive parenting courses and many other webinars they wanted to do themselves to seek support and guidance because that’s just who they are. Always looking for support and information, and researching well.  eldest had been stressed from Covid lockdowns on and off , having challenges with home learning so required attending school or accommodation purposes due to all the hospital appointments in the pregnancy etc .


All of this would add to burnout and anxiety for a child - even one very good at masking around peers and teachers, or novelty people. You know when most aut/had kids unmask (regardless of co-occurring conditions? - When they feel they can be themselves without judgement (like at home) 

This stressful time, and what as later on found out to be a bit of a school bully situation happening where another child was even suspended (all on school records) resulted in the child stimming more than usual at home and on the way to school with nervous eating and sensory snacking. Something I still do myself as an adult I never was able to grow out of because it’s just part of how I am wired and how my ASD I’m in process of formal adult diagnosis of with support from my children’s support service providers impacts me day to day. I have lived experience of also eating my lunches in the car when I was a kid and telling the odd fib if I thought I was going to be in trouble when in primary school , or blaming something on a sibling. My siblings did it too. A lot of kids do. 

The school again disregarded information from the parents , and chose to make a report to services which resulted in cps contact and involvement.   As a mum of multiple children I can tell you and so will anyone else that close age gaps and a busy home with kids with sensory needs and processing needs to accommodate , busy schedules , and hospital work around a on top of it all during a pandemic between all the pick ups and drop offs and partner working would be exhausting for anyone who can’t pay for hired help. Kids have a lot of needs and they were doing their best in the circumstances with limited access to supports lockdown rules with 5km distances and curfews, and friends/family  with availability. 

There isn’t a single parent I have spoken to who wouldn’t have also felt the stress and overwhelm, as well as carrying all the needs of the kids, and financial worries. 
it was pretty normal given the circumstances for things like chores to slide a little. Especially when you have to pick your battles sometimes and focus on everyone’s emotional regulation and sensory needs first. 
 The more I heard about the involvement, the more I heard about the appointment stuff around from cps end /case managers , social workers , the more they grew cut off from Anglicare etc type services for example due to cps involvement the harder the juggle became and the kids could feel that.  Siblings began to quarrel a little more than usual and in an unfortunate incident when mum was finally home with newborn and elder girls were fighting  mum had to think fast because of baby in her arms and her heart issues so had to just block daughter from hurting her in an outburst. Unfortunately because of protest she had a slight mark but nothing malice intended just for protection however of course with that sort of agency invading their home and life they straight away wanted to make a villain of  the poor mother who is a survivor of dv in a previous life threatening environment (reason for her back injury). Rather than appreciate her open honesty and they also began to make assumptions about capacity due to my friends like  just being pop culture nerds with pop vinyl figure collections on display in their home , and also just happening to be plus sized due to health problems including hormonal disorder and the diabetes but after multiple c sections it would not be safe to have a sleeve or anything too risky especially with an added heart inflammation.    Anyway back to the girls fighting … every parents worst nightmare when of all the things that could go wrong and a first time ever the siblings fighting caused a drawer to fall. Luckily they could rush in but still a terrifying ordeal. Unfortunately for them another strike against them. You would be surprised how many Australian families don’t know their tenant rights to install safety brackets on heavy furniture without questioning from landlords even in a gov housing listed situation. It’s actually a relatively high number. 

Comments made about my friends appearance were irrelevant and uncalled for . This also goes for comment rd about collectible Halloween decor from much loved films like the nightmare before Christmas for example.  This is a smoke and drug free home.  They are good people yet they kept having more people come into their space when after such a hard pregnancy they just wanted to have time as a family and continue on their journey seeking support for NDIS application for their eldest and possibly some counselling and OT.  I honestly would not be surprised if some of the workers given to them for quick pop ins to check on things and visit school etc were not parents themselves. 

My friend was even accused of withholding treats for one time in the car when siblings were fighting and then given a home made meal instead of McDonald’s as a treat due to one starting a fight over toys or just annoying the other in the back seat. All kids do this. When you have children who have a harder time regulating due to fear of missing out it’s pretty sensible to make all the kids understand why they are getting a home cooked meal and how to ensure no one has to miss out next time because that was the deal. Therefore no promise broken. This isn’t being conditional this is trying to set a healthy boundary to make the siblings respect one another and talk it out rather than fight each other.  I honestly don’t understand how anyone can turn around and call that abuse when that’s exactly what happened to most of my early 90s babies friends in their childhood too . I asked in a Facebook mum group and parents agreed they did nothing wrong . Again cps used it against them. 

leading up to what was meant to be their final

court date freeing them from cps involvement and bullying , that’s when the eldest experienced the worst of the school bullying . Parents documented this . I’ve advised them to write  every little detail of what has happened and hopefully it gives any other families in similar spot courage to speak up and fight the decisions and allegations.  Mum took a picture of the bruising at every angle . School then as mentioned suspended the responsible child.  Of course cps accused the parents directly when the child who they keep trying to explain has sensory processing difficulties had been scratching and chomping at it irritating it because it was annoying her in the healing stages . This of course lead to it worsening and that’s when it all escalated to instant child removal as school denied seeing the images taken even though all images are unaltered and dated . 

the family had not been given any indication that there would be this decision , or full disclosure in any way on what grounds other than loose assumption and not understanding them as a family. It makes my heart break for them so much . I don’t understand how the school refuses to help, how cps refused to hear them put when they literally basically has said they were desperate for a disability support worker in their home on multiple occasions. Due to the accusation they took the kids and separated them somewhat . Only one without a sibling present at the locations  is the 10 month old and eldest. Eldest has had more than a few meltdowns they are wrongly labeling as a trauma response which if trauma at all would be from being removed from the place she is actually understood . Her and her autistic sister were revoked of formal diagnosis of ODD and autism because of CPS  which to me feels absolutely disgraceful and should be a criminal offense. Once kids were removed of diagnosis and supports , they questioned the girls in a printed way indirectly to complete a sentence fully aware of the diagnosis that was removed with promises of pony rides and new things. If that isn’t a bribe like offering a kid chocolate or a toy to keep a secret from another parent like a birthday surprise then I don’t know what is . I am mortified and have lost all faith in the system. I want to hear uproar. I want anyone who’s in same spot or knows anyone who has been through this to get in touch please we are desperate to help them. Those kids need as many aussies rallying for their family as possible. I will not be silent and let this happen. This whole ordeal has caused my friend so much trauma and when she told me everything the night of the day they were removed and things after that foster people were not doing that upset them like not applying sunscreen to the 10 month old , etc that I broke down in tears myself. I am grieving with them. My youngest children lose their very first friends from this , and nothing will be ok until we can make this right and give them the support they rightfully and lawfully deserve. I will not quit or give up on them and I hope you stand with us and all neurodivergent adults and families unite with us to fight this.  They need to give them back to the parents and they need NDIS and paediatric assessments Re-instated .  I would not be so strongly passionate about this, if I had any doubts in my heart and soul and mind. 

Let them go home to mum and dad where all 5 kids belong, give them a support worker and an OT NDIS . Get them their community health supports back . Stop meetings costing them $15 to park every time when they are a low income family in a pandemic economic crisis.


Disability advocates please stand with them .


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Signatures: 11Next goal: 25
Support now