Monday, September 18, 2017

Forming a political party that matters

For over two years now we have been developing a political movement designed to provide a voice for children and adults who have been in contact with child protection services. The challenge has always been to articulate the need for a change within child protection services so that children and their parents have a voice.

The reason why a political party is necessary is born of the idea that change will not eventuate through advocacy alone. The child protection party, threw myself and Nadia, have been working with parents for over 10 years. Even though the work we do has impacted and provided positive outcomes for parents it has failed to make the changes within the child protection systems that are necessary. We need to think of this problem in terms of two silos, one represents the micro level where we work with parents and the department social workers in order to represent the parents in an environment where they are rarely heard. The other important silo is the one in which decisions are made and one in which we do not, at this particular point, have a voice. This silo is the legislative arm of the government, the decision-makers, those with the power to make the changes that will impact the child protection system in the long-term.

We work on the outside of the system. We are observers, we are notetakers, we are the micro change makers. When we look into the system as an outside observer we notice the inefficiencies, the poor practices, the impact on parents and children, the damaged caused and the poor outcomes for all concerned.

We are aware that there are two diametrically opposed views, the one which sees most parents as "bad parents" and which focuses on a deficit model, and the one which we see and implement which is looking for hope and change within the people with whom we work. We see a system which is reluctant to change, a system which is so entrenched in managing risk that it fails to see the opportunities existing within most parents.

In most of my blogs I have talked about the system, about parents and children, so I won't continue that rant here. What I need to say is that it is through political power and influence that significant change can take place. In recent times I've come to realise that there will be many people who will be seeking to cash in on this issue because they realise that it is becoming politically expedient to occupy the child protection space. In my mind, there is only one political party which has the knowledge, the background, the experience, and the policies to make the changes that are necessary.

It has been proven that none of the major political parties have the will, the understanding, nor the policies to change the system that needs to be changed. If they had all of this they would have been able to change the system a long time ago. Each time there is a crisis within the system, that is a child either dies while in care or because the child wasn't taken into care, nothing changes in order to improve or prevent these sorts of outcomes. As a community we can no longer allow the flagrant disregard for the well-being of children to persist. As a community we have to take active steps to change the system so that all children, regardless of socio-economic background, the way they were parented, or the way they have been treated while in care, are safe and secure.

It is stating the obvious to say that kids are our future, that unless we look after them, care for them, ensure that they are safe, we are doing a great disservice to them and to the way this country will develop over the decades to come. Each of us has a responsibility to work towards a better future for all children, not just those who are in the child protection system. This includes children with a range of challenges, such as learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and physical disabilities. We need to ensure that regardless of the school one attends or the educational standard attained by a parent, a child has the right to experience the best educational opportunities available.

It is vital that we as a political party and as a community confront social issues such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol use, and neglect, so that children who find themselves in those environments have the opportunity to feel safe and secure. This can be achieved by providing services which identify the groups mentioned above which will help them to understand the damage done by being in a violent and abusive relationship, by taking drugs and alcohol and how that creates a neglectful environment for the children.

I have stated many times that parents, almost without exception, love their children. Most parents that we encounter want to make the changes that they need to make in order to have their children remain within the family. We need to provide the opportunity for these parents to confront the issues which sit in their lives so they can become better parents. Blaming them, denigrating them and offering minimal services for them to confront and change those issues which inhibit their parenting is not what a cohesive and caring community would want.

The Child Protection Party advocates for these changes. We need to work within the political silo to make the changes that are necessary. We need your support in order to do that.