Ray Ferris is my guest writer for the next five GPS posts. He retired after a career that included significant years with the MCFD and he has written a book entitled 'The Art of Child Protection.' In five parts here is the substance of a letter already sent to specific officers of the government and offered publicly now using the Bayne Case to expose flaws and to propose remedies in the child protection system.
Yesterdays' post was Part One and entitled "The Bayne Case is an Example of Flaws." It provides the facts of the case and a summary.
NUMEROUS OTHER CASES, ANALYSIS AND REMEDIATION – PART 2
The minister who married the Baynes is called Dr. Ron Unruh. When he heard about their case he established a blog to advocate for them and this blog has become a forum for many people who have felt wronged by the children's ministry. It is widely read and on the day the judgement came out there were 12,000 hits on the blog. I attach two articles I recently wrote on the same topics as above. There were two contributors who successfully appealed against rulings in favour of the ministry. Both cases had to raise over $200,000 to succeed. The first sold their home and the second raised a mortgage and was helped by extended family.
Analysis and remediation.
The family court appears to have become as adversarial as criminal court without some of the safeguards of criminal court. In criminal court one is presumed not guilty until proven other otherwise. In family court the social worker is presumed to have acted with good cause until proven otherwise. The onus is on the parent to prove that they are fit parents. An even more serious problem arises. Regardless of the merits of the case a parent cannot mount a defence without going bankrupt. It should not be necessary to sell ones home in order to be able to pay for getting ones children back. How is this in the best interests of the children?
A suggested partial remedy.
Contracted counsels routinely represent directors in protection court. Sometimes clients are represented by legal aid lawyers. These lawyers are often inexperienced in protection law and only too readily agree to adjournments and delays and in general acquiesce to the ministry. This is probably because it improves their income. What I suggest is that the ministry should routinely provide contract counsels to represent parents. This could have many advantages and should be cost effective. At least this route should be tried in a pilot project.
We should question as to whether a court milieu is the appropriate way of determining protection cases. The very culture of the court encourages an obsession with process rather than outcomes. It is an arena of disputatious and time-consuming argument, endless quibbles and is adversarial in the extreme. Too many cases graphically describe it.
You can order Mr. Ferris' book entitled 'the Art of Child Protection' by contacting the author directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.