A BUNDABERG mother has spent 10 months fighting to have her eight-year-old son returned to her after he was taken by Child Safety Services.
But it could be another 10 months before she and her son know their future, after the department asked for a third independent report at a court hearing last week — despite two independent reports already recommending the pair be reunited.
Enrolled nurse Sandra has been battling Child Safety Services since October last year, when son Brendan was removed from her home and taken into foster care after sexual abuse allegations were made against her.
“They have just blown things out of proportion,” she said.
“They have used innocent things and turned them into something sinister.”
Last Thursday, she expected to be one step closer to having Brendan back at home.
But instead Child Safety Services asked for another independent report, despite two reports — both seen by the NewsMail — recommending the process of reuniting Sandra and Brendan be started.
“When they asked for a third report I thought, ‘when am I going to be good enough?’ I know I’ve made mistakes but I think my only sin is that I love my son too much,” Sandra said.
“He doesn’t understand. He was told at first that he was just going on to be a little holiday and it just keeps getting longer and longer.”
The difficulties started when Brendan was talking to another child at his day care home , when the day care mother heard some things that caused her concern. She took the allegations to Child Safety Services.
The accusations included touching Brendan’s genitals while having a bath with him and allowing him to suckle on her breasts, both when he was five.
After a police investigation, no criminal charges were laid.
During the process, Sandra has been twice weekly to two-hour supervised contact sessions with Brendan and can watch him play soccer on weekends.
Child Safety Services have provided her with instructions on how to interact with Brendan — including limiting all hugs to just three seconds and asking her not to brush Brendan’s hair away from his face.
But Sandra has not been going through her fight alone.
Victoria, a friend from Maryborough, has been paying her legal fees since she heard about the case.
“I’ve been through a lot in my life and I’ve never seen someone treated in this way,” Victoria said.
Victoria has attended group meetings with Sandra and Child Safety Services to try to reunite the pair.
“When it first started, I thought, ‘this has to be a joke’. But as it has gone on, it’s as if (Child Safety Services is) deliberately delaying the process,” she said.
Sandra has also been speaking to Member for Burnett Rob Messenger, who is writing a letter to child safety minister Phil Reeves about the situation.
A spokesperson for the Department of Communities said it was policy not to comment on specific cases.
“However, the interests of the child are always the department’s primary concern. In cases such as this, the department works closely with family, carers and the child, towards the child returning to live with their family, but only if it is considered safe for reunification to occur,” the spokesperson said.
Sandra will have a further meeting with Child Safety Services today and the case is expected to be back in court for a brief mention on August 19.
Names have been changed for legal reasons.