The story that is dividing parents across the nation.
It is a tragic tale, but all the more tragic in the very many layers it reveals about parenting in our society.
The story, making headlines across Australia today, is of a woman from Victoria, aged in her 40s, who has been banned from undergoing fertility treatment because of her poor record caring for her other four children.
The woman and her partner of more than five years tragically lost their only baby to SIDS.
According to reports, the grieving mother carries around her dead infant’s ashes everywhere she goes.
When she went to have IVF – a procedure covered under Medicare – under Victorian law they had to undergo a child protection order check.
The mother and potential father-to-be, failed.
They appealed the decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal who published their decision last week.
The basis? Well from what was written the basis was a pretty darn good one. The mother was found to have posed a potential risk to the health and well being of a child should they have one.
Her track record showed an appalling degree of neglect and abuse.
The tribunal heard that the mother had verbally abused her children, telling one son he was a ‘smart alec’ and he’d grow up to be a ‘woman beater’, calling another a ‘bastard’ and smacking them.
At various times in recent years child protection authorities had removed the four children from her custody.
In a decision published late last week, VCAT said there was a “long history of substantiated concerns” recorded against her, including physical and emotional abuse, and medical and environmental neglect.”
At one stage the tribunal heard, she left her young son at home in charge of younger siblings, she had threatened young children with clenched fist for coming near her, had left them unsupervised on roads and at times, had no beds in her home for the children.
“Even allowing for a degree of overzealous attention on the part of the department, the nature and extent of the reports, which have also originated from the children’s school and attention from police, are serious and consistent,” the tribunal found.
The tribunal ruled “In the tribunal’s view… there are significant and continuing risks to the welfare and interests of a child to be born to the applicants by means of ART [assisted reproductive technology] and at this stage, the tribunal cannot be satisfied that it is in the best interests of a child to be born for such treatment procedure to be made available.”