It’s the story that’s haunted us for nine months and came to a horrible conclusion just before Easter. Little Kiesha Abrahams’ mother and step-father were charged with her murder after they were arrested on Good Friday visiting her makeshift grave on the eve of her 7th birthday.
Now homicide detectives plan to reopen an investigation into the death of her little brother Ayden who apparently died from SIDS aged six weeks, more than a year before Kiesha was born.
Nobody knows exactly what happened in this case. Except Kiesha’s mother, 28 year old Kristi-Anne Abrahams and step-father, Robert Smith, 31.
But the questions have been asked. How could it get to this? There are thousands of families around the country who have been brought to the attention of the authorities for the way children are being, or have been, treated in their care.
Say what you will about how these services are resourced, the job is a terribly difficult but important one.
Imagine a day at work involves looking after children carrying a panic button that you may have to use if you or the children in your care are in danger ? Imagine a day that involves taking children to visit their only living relatives and those relatives never turn up.
Jo Foster works in these situations daily. She writes:
“I work part-time with kids in care. I don’t work for DoCS, so don’t start yelling at me already. I take my hat off to them actually. They work under very difficult circumstances that involves a lot of government red tape. It’s tricky.
I’m a ‘contact supervisor’, which essentially means I supervise contact between a child/children who has already been removed from their home, and whoever they are able to see in their family. Parents, siblings, grandparents etc. And then I write a report on what I observe.
It can be intense. To say the least. These beautiful children have been removed from their families for any number of reasons. Physical abuse. Emotional abuse. Neglect. Sexual abuse. Drug addictions. Alcohol addictions. And a host of other insidious things most people wouldn’t believe happen in ‘civilized’ cities like Sydney.
So my ‘foster care’ days can look like any of this:
- transporting a two month old baby addicted to meth, as he shakes and cries on his four hourly morphine doses, to see his completely drug addicted mum.
- taking six and seven year old little blue eyed blonde girls to see their dad who has ‘allegations of sexual abuse’ against him.
- collecting nine siblings from up to four different carers (with other worker’s to help) and meeting with all their family in one room at one time, once a week.
- taking a three year old to see a grandparent who never shows up. Once a fortnight. This the only family she has.
- supervising a fifteen yr old boy (who is incidently also used by his carer as a drug runner) and his father for their once-a-month contact.
Needless to say, I haven’t given as much detail as I could on any of those situations above. And there are countless more variations of a similar theme…
While I’m establishing some stuff, let it also be said: I’m ALLLLLL for family. If there’s a chance of reconciliation, and healing, FABULOUS. I’m thrilled and honoured to be a part of that process. Many of us have cried many thousands of tears for the heart-breaking situations we see in our work. We will always believe for the best, and do everything in our power for those contact sessions to be a positive experience for all involved. However, the harsh and often darker realities of life mean that sometimes, full reconciliation is just not an option.