Tread Gently: The voice of parents who have had an encounter with child protection services in Australia from CaLD/NESB backgrounds with a disability or have a child with disability.
Tread Gently was a project undertaken by the National Ethnic Disability Alliance from 2015-15 to articulate the impact current child protection practices has on CaLD families who have family members with a disability either parents or children. It was expressed by many that both ethnocentric attitudes and ableism were often the primary determinants whether a child was placed in care. Some parents expressed the view that the child protection system was more a parental punishment.
The study found that required expertise in disabilities by many professionals in child welfare was not present when dealing with families who have members with disabilities. Often when “health” experts in disabilities had prejudicial attitudes towards either the parents or their children when disabilities were involved. Many parents experienced false accusations of child abuse where there a more in-depth understanding of the disability of the child would not have made the same judgement.
The study identified that in a CaLD setting the loss of a child to care and protection would result in the self-exclusion from their community. This exclusion arises from the sense of identity that is formed by the presence of a child in the family unity. When the child is removed from the family, the parents have lost their sense of identity, therefore, membership of their community.
From the study, NEDA believes that there should be a different approach to child protection practice when dealing families where either the parents or children have a disability.