> Dear List Members,
> The following article appeared in the South Australian Sunday Mail (5/9) and was faxed through to me. The sensational headline focusses on sexual preference but the body of the story, if factual, raises great cause for concern. The article is as follows:
> "LESBIAN COUPLE'S CHILD CUSTODY BID INQUIRY
> The State Government has ordered an investigation into claims that a lesbian couple, working for a State agency, attempted to get custody of a child of a disabled mother in their care.
> A special Sunday Mail investigation has found over a period of time the carers convinced the mother to relinquish custody of the child, believed to be of pre-school age, with the matter reaching the Family Court for "ratification".
> Disability Services Minister, Mr Lawson, has confirmed that he has ordered an investigation into the claims, but has refused to expand on the allegations.
> "we are waiting on a report into some allegations made in relation to a matter" Mr Lawson said "I am unaware of the background facts so I simply cannot comment".
> The Sunday Mail has been told the carers were employed by a government run agency.
> Neither Mr Lawson nor the agency will confirm whether the women were full time or part time workers. The claims are being investigated by an independent unit comprising social workers and former police officers.
> The allegations include that the couple, during their time caring for the intellectually disabled mother, attempted to "establish a closer relationship with the child".
> They are believed to have told the Family Court hearing they would "love and nurture the child" if their application was successful.
> The sex of the child has not been disclosed.
> The agency's chief officer said when "the incident was brought to his attention" I wasn't happy.
> "I felt the matter should be investigated outside the council" he said. " At some stage we felt the child must have been at risk, so it was appropriate to take action".
> The Sunday Mail is prevented from namimg the agency or its chief executive officer for legal reasons.
> The chief executive said he understood the carers involved had some dealings with the Family Court over the matter.
> Since the allegations were raised the family involved had been provided with support care outside the agency, he said.
> The investigation was expected to be completed by September 13."
> At this point my fax jammed and I do not have the remainder of the article. Perhaps some list member in South Australia may be able to fill in the blanks.
> If the article is factual, it raises a number of issues re ethics, power, coercion, trust, duty of care,how the hell was it allowed to happen and where are the safeguards for people and parents with an intellectual disability living in the community?
> Over to you for comments
I think it also raises questions regarding the newspaper's positioning of
the 'lesbian carers' and the 'mother with a disability'. It is surprising really
that there was no mention of the mother's ability to provide care. I would
have expected a less subtle incitement for its readers to take sides on who
was the least deserving of custody.
Indeed the potential for a horrific outcome for the mother and child is
brought to light and quite a potential threat for all parents who have a
School of Occupation and Leisure Sciences
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Sydney
P.O. Box 170
Lidcombe NSW 2141
Phone: (62 1) 9351 9509
Fax: (62 1) 9351 9166
e-mail: [log in to unmask]
Please visit the School's interim web site at
Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious