Infant removal and the lack of representation for parents

Celine Harrison, Carol Bahemia, Debbie Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper throws a spotlight on the systemic disadvantage experienced by parents who have their children removed from their care. With data drawn from the annual reports of the Legal Aid of Western Australia, the child protection agency in Western Australia, and the Productivity Commission, the authors illustrate the disconnection between the agency's policy to reunify children once removed from their birth parents; the resources made available to support families to overcome their difficulties; and how the gap is further widened when parents without financial means and who are disempowered face legal proceedings on their own. We profile the increasing numbers of infants who are removed, the decreasing numbers of these infants who are discharged from care, and the shortfall of grants of legal aid that are provided to parents when they go to court. For this group of parents, permanent loss of their children is a reality. The aim of the paper is to capture the extent to which there is a fundamental blemish on the principles of due process and fairness, and once statutory processes are triggered, the best interests of the child and the support of parents are contingent, with poverty being the key mediating factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-221
Number of pages7
JournalChildren Australia
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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