Australia 50 years ago....
An interesting juxtaposition of two stories happened this week. From Australia we heard that Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister, had apologised to an audience comprising women who had had their babies taken from them within minutes of their birth. Quite horrific and a subject worthy of an abject apology.
“Unwed mothers were pressured, deceived and threatened into giving up their babies from the second world war until the early 1970s so they could be adopted by married couples, which was perceived to be in the children's best interests, the Senate committee report found.” Guardian 21/3/13
“Roman Catholic hospitals in Australia apologised in 2011 for forcing unmarried mothers to give up babies for adoption and urged state governments to accept financial responsibility.
Catholic Health Australia, the largest nongovernment hospital operator in Australia, said the practice of adopting out such children to married couples was "regrettably common" from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Adoption in Australia is mostly controlled by state laws, but the report found that the federal government had contributed to forced adoption by failing to provide unwed mothers with full welfare benefits to which a widow or deserted wife would have been entitled until 1973.” ibid (my emphasis)
The second story came from a blogsite recommended by a friend. The allegations made on the blog are serious and current. The hub of the report on the blog came from a whistleblower working in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
As ever with our government, there are many things which are left unsaid. In the era of spin, spin and spin again, it is vital that whistleblowers are supported and their complaints publicised.
“The DWP site alleges that ‘ahead of expectations, local authorities reported in January  that they had successfully turned around the lives of 1,675 troubled families after just nine months of the three year programme, meaning that the children in those families are regularly in school and not committing crime or adults are in work.’
Note the use of the word ‘or’ at the end there – not ‘and’. A 50% improvement is clearly being used as the criterion for ‘success’. We are also given no details of what the work/school/crime ratio was before the scheme began.....
......what has not been released and is being kept hush hush [is that] this will not be an option where families can choose not to be involved…..if they refuse to participate, their benefits will be stripped under sanctions.”
If after a period of 26 weeks results are not forthcoming and improvements tangible and sustained all benefits will be withdrawn. From then on, the adults will have to work in any position that can be found – and will be paid via fuel, food and basic clothing. Children over 13 will be expected to work under the same terms as their parents at special schools.
* If the children continue to truant and participate in anti social behaviour, those under 13 will be taken into care. They will not be living with their parents, but in dormitory accommodation. (And we all know what that means)
- Any of the parents having children throughout or once they’ve failed the initiative will be taken into the care of local authorities. The families will be allowed supervised access at contact centres as deemed acceptable by the people overseeing the project and the handlers for the individual families. (And we all know what that means)
Are we in a State now that believes it has the right to ban people having children – to the extent that they fire the parents off the programme and put the kids into paedoland (sic)?
“Myself and many other staff are horrified, but are powerless to stop this. The government are saying they will save more on what they cut on the benefits including DLA for the people in these families getting high rates for anger and behavioural problems, housing benefits and benefits for babies and children…children whether in these families or other families on low incomes are a drain on resources, and they believe if they stop paying then the children will stop being born and those already here will have to either conform or to be excluded and earn their keep….This is all underway and being arranged as we speak.”
The mind boggles at the kind of mentality that believes the children will stop being born if the benefits are removed. But as the clincher, it’s worthwhile taking a look at the private intermediary facilitators shortlisted for the task of running the rollout. They are G4S, Deloittes, Veolia, Capita and Serco. ‘The Slog’ blogsite 17/3/13 (again, my emphases)
Wherever and whenever policies and practices aimed at the poor and vulnerable are decided by a rich and powerful elite, they invariably make a complete mess of them. Their understanding of hardship is a world away from reality.
Using the withdrawal of benefits to punish the so-called feckless is another policy in a long line from the Fleet debtors prison to the ‘undeserving poor’ - an expression much favoured by tory toe-rags - who would welcome back the workhouse.