Scroll down to explore issues around child protection and child welfare in a selection of TV series, fiction and non-fiction books and film, as well as some poetry.
A hit Australian television drama that depicts the events and experiences around forced adoption in Australia, leading some 40 years later to the 2013 national apology by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The series follows the lives of staff and residents at the fictional Kings Cross Hospital and Stanton House in Sydney in 1969. Read public reactions to Love Child here.
When he was aged 12, Solli Raphael was the youngest winner of the Australian Poetry Slam held annually at the Sydney Opera House. His humanitarian poetry shows that age is no barrier to activism and how young people can engender hope. Read Solli’s poetry on his website.
Child 44 (Tom Rob Smith)
A political crime thriller involving a series of gruesome child murders in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Lack of transparency, fear, oppression and abandonment of ideals of delivering justice and finding truth pervade this novel and offer lessons for Western societies struggling to live up to the democratic values they espouse.
Suffer the Little Children (Donna Leon)
A crime mystery which is one of a series of novels set in Venice. The series revolve around Commissario Guido Brunetti and the Questura, the police force of which he is both part and distant, as he battles to assert standards of integrity and justice against indolence and corruption. In this novel Brunetti follows a corrupt scheme involving the authorities in the stealing of children from their mothers for adoption by wealthy clients.
The Anti-Cool Girl (Rosie Waterland 2015)
This is an autobiographical account of growing up with parents who were drug addicts, of being placed with foster parents, and suffering abuse at the hands of her foster father. Her little sister seemed to fare better and was reunited with her father though, as Rosie observes, never knew cuddles from her mother. The book teases apart love, care and security, and shows how these experiences are not always in step as is so often assumed by policy makers.
The Good, the Bad and the Inevitable (Barbara Holborow 2003)
A former children’s magistrate relates stories of children who need a helping hand. The book finishes with the sentence, “You should never be too proud to ask for help”. The book raises questions about how well we as a society respond to pleas for help in the child protection space, how well we nurture a sense of hope for the future among families who are struggling and a sense of security in the long term for their children.
Romulus, my father (Raimond Gaita 1998)
This biographical memoir details the challenges facing immigrant families after the second world war and the disruptions to family life posed by loss – loss of family, culture, place and sanity. Throughout the book is the theme of love that endures through adversity.
Ombline is a film which shows that friendship and love, even in a punitive criminal setting, can transcend tragedy and despair to develop into hope and optimism.
I AM SAM
I am Sam provides a fictional, entertaining and yet serious account of the issues for parents with disabilities, in this case intellectual disabilities, when trying to retain custody of their children. The film highlights how valuable networks of love and care can be in protecting children. It shows the importance of networks, relationships, of having legal representations and anyone who has been involved with child protection services will identify with this film.
The Castle demonstrates the inhuman results of rules applied without context. Its central message is of justice, freedom from domination and the role of engaged defiance in a healthy democracy. It shows how government, corporate and legal actors collude to oppress an ordinary citizen going about the everyday course of their life. This is particularly evident in how the obtuse language of authorities attempts to silence and exclude people who cannot speak in that way.
The Black Balloon
The Black Balloon is a film which highlights the many challenges faced by families, and particularly the siblings of those with a disability. It is serious, yet funny and highlights both the stigmatisation and discriminations faced by families who have members with disabilities, as well as humanity, love and acceptance.
Rabbit Proof Fence
Rabbit Proof Fence tells of three children who escape from a mission after being removed from their families for being part Aboriginal. Based on a true story, it follows the children as they find their way back to their community using the rabbit-proof fence. Heart-wrenching.
Oranges and Sunshine
This film tells the story of a social worker who attempts to bring children back together with their families after being brought to Australia as British Child Migrants with a promise of “oranges and sunshine”.