It’s important for their own safety that women do continue to report domestic violence, without the baseless fear that their children will be taken from them as a result, the NSW Department of Community Services said on Friday.
Acting Executive Director, Operations Support Helen Freeland, said it was inappropriate to comment on the individual cases of two women, both before the court, who attended the public forum of the Wood Special Commission.
“What I can say is that children are never removed simply because a woman reports domestic violence,” Ms Freeland said.
“In fact, DoCS regularly supports women to leave a domestic violence situation so they can provide a safe and loving home for their children. Children are placed in care only if they cannot live safely with their parent or carer, and it is dangerous and simplistic to suggest otherwise.”
Ms Freeland added that “The NSW child protection system is full of checks and balances to prevent children being removed from their parents unnecessarily. DoCS looks at many aspects of a family situation and if it believes a child’s safety is at risk, makes a recommendation to the Children’s Court. The Children’s Court hears DoCS evidence, but they also hear evidence from the parents. The Court then weighs up that evidence and makes the final decision on what would be the best for the child.”
“I would urge any woman living with domestic violence to contact the Domestic Violence Line on 1 800 656 463 – they can do so anonymously, and still receive help. It would be tragic if women were discouraged from reporting domestic violence to police, support agencies or DoCS, and as a result put both their lives and their children’s lives at risk,” Ms Freeland said.