I guess I have written about issues concerning social work standards within Child Protection, in fact many of my blogs seem to be about this. I work in a range of areas and the work I do in the child protection area is a very small part of my business and is the area of my business for which I don't get paid. I am amused by the energy it consumes and the incredibly poor practices I experience by other social workers or those purporting to be social workers. I see child protection as a kind of frenzied inactivity. The morally inept attempting to display their moral fibre based on found-less or misconstrued allegations, which fail to past the most elementary test of common sense or reasonableness. It appears that all that is wrong with social work has found this one place to reside amongst the noblest and arguably the most sacred of causes, "Child Protection". It is here, in this sacred place, that some social workers can hide from being scrutinised and being accountable. It is within the walls of "Child Protection" that they are shielded by the power of the organisation (the government) and the law.
They make decisions that will determine the future of not just the child but also the parents, grandparents, siblings etc. There is no opportunity to confront poor decision making because they will not under any circumstances admit that they may have made a mistake or could have made different more informed decisions. They are not open to the idea that people change and therefore parents change. They are unable to comprehend that children are sometimes better off with parents who are willing to be taught to parent differently rather than being placed in alternate care which often is more damaging.
I have learnt so much by being an advocate for parents whose kids have been removed by child protection services. I have learnt that there are many versions of Social Work and not very many are the same as mine. I have learnt that there are many social workers who don't believe in change and that they parent blame and that they are judgemental. I have felt the injustice parents feel when confronted with a system which doesn't listen to them, and fails to understand the distress associated with losing a child. I have felt anger like I have never felt it before as I know I am being lied to and that the worker is not able to deliver anything that we are asking but they don't have the guts to tell us. Recently I was talking to two social workers from Kadina office, Paul and Keiron, and I now know that they were never going to deliver on anything they said. I wanted to believe in them so much, I wanted to believe that they were going to make a difference and that they were going to believe in my client. Unfortunately they were never going to return the child to her parents. What was really disappointing was that they didn't have the guts to make a stand against their manager Patrick who for some bizarre reason banned me from having a meeting with them in the first place. From that point on I guess I should have realised that it wasn't going to go anywhere.
I have decided to no longer advocate for this parent, not because I don't believe in her but because FSA have now made it so difficult to have a relationship with them that it has made my work redundant. Patrick the manager has told me in no uncertain terms that I am only permitted to have conversations with him and not the two workers. Is this man a control freak or what? So much for the notion of building partnerships. How little respect he must have for Paul and Keiron. I would be pretty upset if I was those two workers but there again perhaps they are so engrained in the culture that they think this behaviour is normal.
So, I will no longer have any meetings with FSA workers and particularly Patrick or any of the workers from his office or where he manages. This doesn't mean that I am going to stop fighting for change. What I have to do is find more creative ways to bring about change. What people like Patrick and others have failed to realise that if they were to work with me we could have brought about significant change that would have enhanced many peoples lives. But because they somehow saw me differently, buggered if I know how they saw me, they decided to do what most bullies do and that is demonise and ostracise the opponent. This is what Patrick has attempted to do. David Waterford on the other hand believed that by having conversations with me would be enough to placate me. This is done under the misguided belief that he has the power and that I would become compliant to his authority. When this didn't work he virtually did what Patrick is now doing.
At every level this has always been about the rights of the child. In the case which involves these people I have worked to have the child returned because I believe passionately that this is in the best interest of the child. That others in the same profession are unable to see this and want the child to remain in an environment which is damaging to her is a concept I am unable to understand. I can not believe that the social workers I mentioned above can demonstrate such blatant disregard to a child's well being when they are there to protect the child. I don't want to believe that this is about my involvement in the case but I do believe that if I wasn't involved the child would not be returned and the parents would be in a worse emotional condition. My involvement though has focussed on the ineptitude of workers and a process which is more about risk aversion than about the well being of children. I therefore become the problem, well that is what they would like others to believe.
The greatest lie I have heard, and it came from Patrick, is that they are acting in the best interest of the child. That is not true, it never has been true.
Accredited Mental Health Social Worker
International Counselling Service
Ph 0414 883 153