As a parent, I sometimes read things that pull at the fabric of every parenting principle I hold dear.
Case in point: the story of Celia, a "city Aboriginal" who is trying to help her daughter get her son back after the child was taken by DOCS due to the mother's substance abuse.
Celia herself was caught up in generational substance abuse. She and most mothers she knows take drugs, as did her elders and as do her children. Her daughters were taken from her several times. Each time, she was bereft.
She admits she's not a perfect mother. She knows mothers in her community need to try and do better. The bottom line for Celia is that she feels mothers who take drugs - whether they be Aboriginal or not - are treated more harshly by DOCS than parents who are violent.
She writes, "There's a stigma attached to have a record with drugs and I'm not only talking about black girls, it happens to white girls too. It breaks my heart. DOCS are breaking families apart and killing us." You can read more of her story at www.nuaa.org.au.
Parental substance abuse is a major concern in Australia. As a society we are dealing with parents who not only abuse illegal drugs but those who have become reliant on legal drugs and those who abuse alcohol.
DOCS has long been known to be an understaffed and underfunded government agency struggling to keep up with an impossible number of reports of children who may be in danger. Kids are falling through the cracks.
We need to do better.
A clinic has been opened in Western Australia built specifically to help mums deal with alcohol abuse. Cyrenian House runs the Saranna residential program in Beechboro and it's 14 houses are always full, with dozens of other women and their children lined up for vacancies. This is treatment specifically designed for mums and children.
Manager Carol Daws says the ages of the children varied from babies to upper primary school but included even newborn babies because some women signed up for treatment while pregnant.
Though the service has been running for years, it was expanded to cope with demand. Similar reports are being received from drug and alcohol programs across the country. They just don't have the room and resources to help every parent who needs it.
Celia's daughter sort help for her drug problem but wasn't accepted into her local program.
Australian children deserve more.
A government report into parental substance abuse shows more than half of women with substance abuse issues admit their ability to parent is being affected. Other mums claim they go out of their way to make sure this doesn't happen, only using substances while children are at school or with family members. Some mum say they go great lengths to ensure their children don't find out about their substance abuse issues.
But kids are smarter than that. They know much more than we realise.
Michelle Scott is the first ever Commissioner for Children and Young People in WA. She visited Saranna as part of Drug Action Week. She says: "We know the well being of parents is linked to the well being and healthy development of their children. In Australia, alcohol and other drug use by parents contribute to around 60 to 80 per cent of all protection orders where children are moved into the care of the Department for Child Protection and Family Support."