“Insight is a discussion forum focusing on a single issue with the participation of a studio audience. Insight covers many issues and topics, engages in sometimes heated debates, and encourages Australians from all walks of life to have their say“.
On the 4th of September 2012 Australian television station SBS On Demand aired Insight: Breaking Point.
Hear Australian families tell their heartbreaking stories.
Relinquishment is when parents voluntary hand over the care of their children to the state.
This forum is about: “What drives families to hand their child over to the state”?
As one father states, ” The only way you can describe it is that when you are a parent you do not give up your child, so to do that it means that there is nothing else you can do. When you are a parent the last thing you do is give up your child.”
As one mother states, “I made the only decision I could make”.
Another mother states, “The incredible strain is driving people to breaking point”.
It was reported that in Victoria 50 children a year are relinquished. Figures for other states were not provided.
Many parents believe that a single relinquishment, is one too many, in a country which has been historically described as The Lucky Country and The Land of Plenty.
The stories shared describe issues common to Australian families whose children have very high support needs, requiring constant 24 hour a day support. The issues include massive care demands due to numerous awakenings each night, intense care issues during the day, challenging behaviour, serious medical conditions, serious safety issues and a resulting poor quality of life by Australian standards for the supporting family.
Community members unfamiliar with the crises facing such families made comments in the days following the forum that they were shocked by what they heard. Feedback following the show to families who do have children in similar care situations included: expressions of distress that good families who love their children should be forced to give them up due to the funding crises in Australia; disgust that there is money aplenty to give to one disaster after another, all the while this silent disaster is occurring and parents are constantly being told there is no money.
There is money for art works and old buildings and money to protect the environment and the like, so how can there be not enough funding for families of children with disabilities. Most community people who offered commented, reported that they cried during their viewing of Insight Breaking Point.
A comment on the SBS, website reads: “Thank-you for opening my eyes to how much families really struggle with having a disabled child. I was shocked to learn how little Australia as a wealthy nation funds disability services.”
The news that Insight had decided to host this forum spread far and wide in Eastern Australia prior to its airing.
Due to the common nature of the relinquishment experience it is apparent to one parent who has been down this path that government Disability Services departments and related organizations could wisely use this video recording as an educational tool for their professional staff, when dealing with parents dealing with relinquishment.
It is clear due to one report that has been written concerning a Queensland family that there is no recognition of the grief relinquishment or the constant fear of it causes.
One mother speaks of the fear of relinquishment in this forum as she is subjected to it by the department providing funding for her child.
Ms Elizabeth McGarry head of Association children with a disability states in the program: “I think it is important to understand that when people give up or relinquish their child it is the actual day-to-day care of the child not the child. That’s the greatest issue.”
She also shares with her audience that the number of families in this situation is increasing and that she has sought for an investigation into the reasons for these increases. She believes that the reasons for parents relinquishing their children are that there is not enough support at the right time and inappropriate support that leave families in a position where they cannot continue to care for their child.
A Queensland mother who contacted the Producer of Insight, Meggie Palmer received an email response from her and Associate Producer Hannah Meager prior to the airing of Breaking Point which included this statement:
“We have been inundated with literally hundreds of expressions of interest; from families like yours”
Please click on this link below to watch the video:
Thank you to the SBS Insight team for their work and dedication to bringing these stories of families of children with high disability support needs on the Eastern side of the continent, to the attention of the general public.
Thank you to the parents, siblings and professional people who had the courage to stand up and speak out for families of children with very high support needs.
Courage of this kind is rare. You were very brave and did other Australians proud.
Categories: Relinquishment of Children