Removed baby's race 'not the issue': DCP
The Department of Child Protection denies a baby was taken from a foster carer because she was not indigenous.
The carer who wanted to be known only as Audrey, told Radio 6PR on Tuesday that an Aboriginal baby who had spent the first seven months of his life with her, had been removed from her care because she was non-indigenous.
She also said that not only was the baby, referred to as "Robert", removed from her care, but was placed in a home initially judged by the Department of Child Protection to be "inappropriate."
Audrey was under the impression that she was being considered as a permanent carer for Robert, which meant an 18-year commitment, although she understood he could still return to his birth family at some point.
DCP director general Terry Murphy told Radio 6PR that while there was a preference to place Aboriginal children with Aboriginal families, Audrey's claims were not true.
Audrey said Robert as removed from her care and she was told that she was no longer considered an acceptable fulltime carer for Robert as she was not indigenous.
She said Robert's health had deteriorated, that he had developed severe nappy rash and an ear infection, among other health issues, since being in a foster home with nine other children.
Mr Murphy said the department was "very clear" that they were looking for a "relative placement or perhaps another Aboriginal family."
"My advice is that no time, did we canvass with her on the prospect of the child staying with her until he was 18, it just does not register with any of our staff at all," he said.
"We eventually found an Aboriginal placement.
Mr Murphy said an advantage of this placement was that Robert's brother was also living here.
He rejected assertions that Robert was not doing well in the placement.
"I have information from one week ago where the child saw a paediatrician and he's good, he's in good condition."
Mr Murphy said the home where he had been placed had not been deemed inappropriate by DCP officers.
"Now we would be nervous about the placement with nine children, there's no question about that, but it's not too many years ago that lots of children had nine and ten and many more children and those kids have grown up terrifically well," he said.
"We would've been nervous about it and therefore needed to check it out and be careful."
Mr Murphy said placing the child with an indigenous family did not override the best interests of a child but said there were benefits.
"They grow up happier, more secure, with a better sense of identity as a general rule if we do that," he said.
"Whatever way you look at it, this is a complex and emotionally demanding business."
Mr Murphy said if any DCP staff members gave Audrey the impression that she may be able to care for Audrey full time, he was sorry.
A woman whose daughter is friends with Audrey's emailed 6PR about the situation.
She said she went out on a celebratory outing with Audrey and Robert when Audrey was told the DCP "couldn't find a suitable placement for Robert and she would most likely get permanent care."
"I'm sure she did not invent that," she said.
"I was present when two women from DCP visited Audrey after he was removed from her care and I watched as they turned her concern from Robert into her need to have a baby to care for, they even said they could get her another within a week."