Anti-smack minister smacked own kids,23599,23179051-421,00.html

By Clare Masters and Simon Benson

February 08, 2008 01:46am

Article from: The Daily Telegraph

THE minister whose disgraced department broke up a family because a grandmother smacked her grandson has admitted he smacks his own children.

The startling admission by embattled Community Services Minister Kevin Greene also puts the father of six in direct conflict with his own department’s rule, which is that children should never be smacked.

The child protection sector is in an uproar following yesterday’s revelation by The Daily Telegraph that children had been removed from their grandparents’ home because the grandmother smacked her six-year-old grandson for playing in a stormwater drain.

They were official DOCS carers and had looked after the three brothers and sister several times in the past six years.

Despite DOCS listing smacking as a “risk of harm” offence that must be reported, Mr Greene said spanking could have its place.

“My wife and I have raised six children together. Three are now adults, two are in their late teens and our youngest is 12,” he said.

“There were times when our judgment has been that it was appropriate to smack the children. But we’ve moved past those days of toddler tantrums and disobedient kids.”

Mr Greene also said he supported the law in NSW that allows smacking but outlaws excessive physical punishment.

“While discipline is a personal judgement for parents, one thing is paramount – the child’s health and safety should never be threatened by the course of action parents take.”

Foster care workers yesterday were asking how DOCS can punish foster carers for doing something their own minister has condoned.

“It puts a lot of confusion in carers’ minds when he is saying, ‘Do as I say, not as I do’,” Foster Care Association president Mary-Jane Beach said.

“Some carers would agree that an occasional smack on the bottom doesn’t hurt and they find the department’s no smacking stipulation difficult. Why would you give a mixed message like that?”

The woman whose grandchildren have been taken away from her was furious at the apparent contradiction.

“It is like the rich and the poor; you have one set of rules for one and one for another,” Catherine (not her real name) said.

“It was just to teach our grandson about getting down the drain.

“If it’s good for him (Greene) why isn’t it good enough for the other parents and grandparents who only do it when a child mucks up?”

The fresh controversy comes amid calls to elevate the Community Services – currently a junior portfolio – to a senior Cabinet position.

Mr Greene is a first-time minister accused of being out of his depth in his handling of recent child death cases.

Andrew McCallum, from the Association of Children Welfare Agencies, said DOCS was not given enough importance by the Government.


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