Hi. I wanted to write about something that has rocked our family for the past few months and only now seems to appear to being close to finishing.
I just want to get this out so that others who find them in a similar situation will know what to do or know that they have someone to go to.
About 2 months ago, my partner became very violent as a result of a bad reaction to his medication which had recently been modified by his practitioner. On this particular day, he had consumed about 4 or 5 stubbies and it was after this his mood changed and he became angry and just not the person I knew. I had never been in this situation before and had no idea what to do.
The kids, who were asleep at the time, were never in the line of fire as I managed to contain him in the lounge and then outside as he decided he needed to go for a walk. When he came back, he continued to be violent in that he shoved me around and issued threats. At this stage, I contacted SAPOL to request assistance - basically for someone to calm him down and get him to bed.
Two police officers arrived. One talked to him and one talked to me. They were great. Non judgemental, thorough and caring. They talked him down expertly, checked the house, saw the kids, spoke to me at length, were satisfied that no one was in danger and advised me that an incident report would be made and noted on a local file. No intervention orders, no further action would be taken. I was happy with this and grateful for their assistance. The rest of the night passed without incident.
He slept it off and woke in the morning very remorseful, confused and distressed. He then attended his practitioner, told him the situation and things were done. He was scared about what had happened and since then everything has been just as it was - a good marriage, loving father.
About 3 weeks after that night, I got a call from a Family Violence Unit. The woman on the end of the phone asked me how things were, I said they were fine, explained what the situation was (that the doctor had confirmed a bad reaction to meds) and that there was very little likelihood of a repeat performance. It was at that point she told me she had reported myself and my partner to Families SA "as per mandatory notification requirements". Stunned, I asked her on what basis did she think my kids were being abused and neglected and who made the report. She refused to answer these questions and I was floored by both her attitude and her clinging to confidentiality! When she'd just passed all our details onto a protection organisation! I then said I would challenge to which she said I couldn't and that once it was done that was it. She said that Families SA would make an assessment and might call/visit me to check on the children and that I would have a record. I then asked to speak to someone above her. She said she would leave a message for her supervisor. Thank the devil I remembered to take her name, badge number and phone number and where she was calling from as this would help later.
I was furious and then upset. My partner was devastated.
So I rang Families SA and spoke to someone in the Intake section. They were so helpful and oddly enough not surprised. I was told that many unfounded reports were made by overzealous police officers and that, technically, a constable at a police station who had not attended my house had no right to make such a report but the legislation allowed it. She admitted that yes, once a report was made then the record even if marked unfounded would exist forevermore. I gave her my details and asked her to contact me if anything with my name on it came through.
It took me ages to contact that supervisor but finally did and the Sgt was surprised that such a report had been made and would I like to complain. I said I did and submitted a statement signed by us both.
About a week later, Families SA contacted us to say that they'd received a report at which point I was able to provide them with a copy of my complaint.
I'll save you the details but the long and short of it was, while we were unable to protect our rights, it was established that they were violated and our complaint with SAPOL stood. What amazes me is that so much attention was paid to a small incident when only last week a starving child was pulled from a Gilles Plains home and Families SA had been notified about this child in early 2012.
I am a good mother. My partner is a good father. My kids have never been abused. Someone behind a desk made a decision that adversely affected our family and we did something about it. But it's been very stressful. Yet it was worth chasing. So many people don't. I urge you that if you find yourself in this situation follow it up. Take names, numbers, dates and times. Write your complaint and follow it up. Notify your MP and the local paper if you have to. Make people listen. While it's very important to report neglect and abuse, it's just as important to make sure those reports aren't made flippantly and just because someone is on a power trip.
I will also add that I will never ever ever call the Police for anything ever again.
Thanks for reading. Just needed to get this out for some reason.