Have you heard about this yet? The Telegraph reports:
girl who was allowed to live with her 15-year-old boyfriend despite her
father’s pleas to DOCS is set to become one of the state’s youngest
mothers.The girl had shared a bed with the father of
the unborn child from the age of 11 after her mother allowed him to
move into their home. But although her father, who is separated from the mother…..
…repeatedly pleaded with staff at the Department of Community Services
helpline they did nothing about the situation.
Police said they were also unable to intervene because both children
were under the age of consent. If the boy was 18 police would have
immediately begun a criminal investigation. When the girl’s father took custody of her in March, he discovered she was pregnant.
She is about halfway through her pregnancy. He is outraged that it took the shock news his child was to be a mother for government agencies to finally take notice. The department admitted it failed to act earlier because staff were
working on more urgent cases. The father told his local member, Dubbo
MP Dawn Fardell, that staff from DOCS and the Departments of Health and
Education were now clamouring to help the child.
“He came to me. The police said, ‘Our hands are tied’,” Ms Fardell
said yesterday. “The father said to me it looks like he and his partner
will raise the baby, they are happy to do so. “All the agencies have come in now and there were different options for her, it is a child having a child. “We need to surely look at what we can do. Someone needs to be
accountable for this, we are accountable to society for allowing this
Senior police said because the children were both under the age of
consent and the girl failed to make a complaint of sexual abuse when
she was interviewed, they were unable to act after the girl’s father
came to them on March 31.
Sad details of the girl’s life emerged in Parliament earlier this month. Her mother was placed in a mental health unit in March and when her
father took over his daughter’s care and went to police to report the
pregnancy, she ran away. The girl has since returned to her father.
This morning Community Services Minister Linda Burney has admitted major mistakes were made by her department in this case. The girl was ignored by DOCS because “the system was stretched”, she says. There was no intervention by DOS, despite pleas from the girl’s father for help, Mrs Burney said. “It’s a disturbing case. It is true in my view that DoCS should have intervened more strenuously than what they did. “I’m of the view, as is the department, that there should have been more strident intervention than happened.
“The father did contact community services in early March and there
was some investigation but clearly not enough was done and I want to
acknowledge that.” The minister’s comment come after DOCS admitted last night it had received the father’s pleas for help. “The NSW Department of Community Services has been working with a
pregnant 12-year-old girl and her family,” a spokeswoman said last
“DOCS had received reports about this girl previously. Because of
more urgent cases, the department took some action to investigate this
case, but acknowledges more intensive casework could have been done.” The girl will be offered ongoing counselling, parenting advice and educational services, DOCS said.
I’ve been listening to radio talkback about this and read some of the comments on the Tele’s website and honestly, why is everyone so quick to blame a government department for this? It’s a terrible thing that she got pregnant and it sounds like her home life was terrible BUT is it DOCS’ fault?
In a perfect world, DOCS would have unlimited funding and enough case workers to deal with every complaint they receive. Complaints like this. But this world and their funding is imperfect. Frighteningly so. And they HAVE to prioritise. Do I wish they’d prioritised this girl who was having sex with her boyfriend over a child who was being abused or malnourished or neglected? A child whose life was in danger? No, I’m afraid I don’t.
And as for the predictable accusations that “these young girls just do it for the money and shouldn’t get handouts” blah blah blah? Please. This girl was 11 and she wanted to have sex. Stupid? Absolutely. Sad? For sure. But calculated? I very much doubt it. When will we stop bashing the DOCS workers who have to confront the most shocking situations every working day and take home countless tragedies in their minds every night? They need support, they need funding. What they don’t need is constant abuse.
Can we really blame a government department every time something goes wrong?