I have been working with the Child Protection Party for a little over 4 years now. Like many people, I was aware that there were issues in the area of child protection. I would learn of yet another failure by the child protection services in Australia (and around the world). I would say “that is terrible” then I would move on and get on with my life.
Then I heard the story about Ebony Napier Tucker. She was brutally beaten to death by her father when she was 4 months old!
4 months old and beaten to death.
He would routinely beat her while her mother sat by and did nothing to stop it. Ebony lay dead in her crib for a week before her parents contacted the authorities. When the authorities arrived, they discovered that Ebony had 48 fractures in her ribs, both arms were broken and she had a broken leg. The father was convicted of manslaughter and given a paltry 9 years in jail. 9 years for beating a helpless baby girl to death. His wife, Ebony’s mother, got off scot-free.
Just three months earlier, Ebony had been taken to hospital with a fractured femur. Since the circumstances were suspicious, the hospital brought in Families SA, now the Department of Child Protection, who quizzed the parents and let them take Ebony back home.
At the coronial inquiry into her death, I learned that Bradley Napier-Tucker, Ebony’s father, had 2 convictions for child abuse in New South Wales and that Families SA had no quick and easy way of learning of his convictions in NSW.
Learning this changed my life.
I was so outraged that in 2016 Families SA had no way of easily access the data held by the authorities in other jurisdictions. In 2016 there `was no reason whatsoever why the child protection worker could not have used their mobile phone or a tablet to access the databases in another jurisdiction. Had such access been available, Ebony may well be alive and thriving today.
Instead, she is rotting in the ground.
I started a petition to get this changed and, through my petition met Nadia Bergineti and subsequently learned about, and joined, the Child Protection Party.
Initially, when I came on board the CPP, I was there to manage the website but, the more I learned as I was going on, the more involved I got. Back in 2016, we still didn’t have sufficient numbers to register as a party here in SA (or in any other state). To help spread the workload, I was asked to take the role of membership secretary in late 2016. By late July 2017, we had the numbers in SA to register the Party. Registration was a nail-biting time for all of us but we learned that we had been successful in registering just in time for us (late December 2017) to nominate 2 candidates for Legislative Council in the state election held in March 2018. We had no money, no advertising and not that many volunteers but we still managed to get 16000 first preference votes. With preferences, we were only a few points away from getting 1 person into the Legislative Council.
We continued to grow our membership to the point that we had sufficient members around the country to register as a Federal party. Being registered at the state level in SA meant that in the June 2019 election, we could field Senate candidates above the line (which greatly increases our chances of getting a greater number of first preference votes). Unfortunately, the thing that has been most troublesome for us from the start is lack of funding and, in June 2019, this meant we could run Senate candidates. We decided to run 1 candidate for the lower house division of Mayo in SA. To call that a disaster would be to understate it! I can’t see us running lower house candidates again.
I am not really well versed in the area of child protection but am a political animal and have a fair bit of experience having worked on a number of political campaigns. My position in the Party is now Secretary and my role is to keep them on the political straight and narrow. The advocacy work the guys do is very worthwhile but, if we can’t get someone into Parliament, we can’t do anything to change the legislation so for the advocates, families and children, it will be the same old stuff for who knows how long.
During my time with the Child Protection Party and I have learned much about the incredibly parlous state of child protection across Australia. I also learned something about myself.
I learned how different my life as a child was compared to many other children.
I learned about how fortunate I was to have grown up in a loving, caring, nurturing environment.
My father, Vic, was a very kind, loving man who loved all his children very deeply. He passed away in April 2019. My mother was also a loving and caring woman. Sadly she died in 1964 when I was but 13 years old.
At the time, I had 2 brothers and 4 sisters but that did not stop another wonderful, loving and caring woman coming into my life when my father remarried in 1966. They were still happily married when my father passed away in April 2019.
Kathie was only 24 years old when she married the father of 7 children. Obviously, things changed after their marriage - for a start, Kathie gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Samantha, in January 1969 - but one thing didn’t change that much.
That one thing was that, instead of having a loving and caring mother, I had a loving and caring stepmother. We were raised with love and respect. We wanted for nothing but in no way were we spoiled. From my parents, we learned to be empathetic, to care for others, to respect other people and to treat people how we expected to be treated by them.
My parents were role models of how parents should be.