‘Wasted’ money should be spent on ‘forgotten kids’: judge
A BRISBANE Family Court judge has criticised the millions of dollars "routinely wasted by governments of all persuasions" on endless child safety inquiries and royal commissions.
Justice Catherine Carew said the money could make a real difference to help the "forgotten children" living in homes where some were subjected to "the most horrific abuse".
"Children are this country's most important asset yet the courts and frontline services, such as ... Departments of Child Safety and Police ... are simply starved of sufficient funds to make a difference," Justice Carew said in a court judgment.
"Foster carers are few and far between and time and again parents are afforded second chances at the expense of their children."
Justice Carew was dealing with a parenting application by a father of four children, whom she said had probably sexually abused two of his daughters.
The children's mother, 37, who had a fifth child, was a former methamphetamine addict and ex-sex worker, who had spent time in jail and psychiatric hospitals.
The children had been exposed to significant violence, their mother's drug abuse, their father's alcohol abuse, both parents being in prison and a lack of food and clothing.
"The children have had a dreadful life to date but they, like so many children seen in this court and various other courts ... are what I consider can aptly be described as 'the forgotten ones'," Justice Carew said.
" … for some people, it seems easier to turn away than confront some harsh realities about a society that not only permits but encourages children to be born into households where their parents are incapable of providing safe, stable and loving homes and where the children are frequently subjected to the most horrific abuse".
Justice Carew said the children, aged 15, 10, nine, eight and three, had lived in foster care or with family members.
"Each of them have been abused either physically, sexually or by exposure to extensive family violence," she said.
At one point, despite the father having been jailed for indecent dealing with a girl, 13, the children were placed in his care and left there, even after an urgent Child Safety assessment.
"It was during this time that it appears highly likely that the two female children were sexually abused by their father. Hardly surprising one might have thought," the judge said.
Justice Carew barred the father, 50, from any contact with his children.
She ordered the "extremely vulnerable'' mother, who was working and had been drug-free for a year, to have sole parental responsibility, but to receive support services until 2020.
"All I can do is hope that the children remain safe," Justice Carew said.