The Coffs Coast Advocate


SHARLENE Taylor only wants what's best for her grandson, Cooper.

But ever since her 20-year-old daughter walked out on her one-year-old son a month ago, Sharlene has hit nothing but brick walls as she tries to ensure Cooper's safety.

“My daughter walked away with a bottle of vodka and her handbag, and she told me she's 'over being a mother',” Sharlene said.

“My family is in limbo, we don't know if she is coming back, but my biggest fear is that she'll turn up and just take Cooper away.”

The frustrated grandmother contacted the Advocate after learning that she doesn't qualify for Legal Aid because she works, the police can't help because Cooper hasn't technically been abandoned, and DOCS cannot step in unless Cooper's mother physically hurts him.

Sharlene worries that there will be a generation of babies 'born out of greed', citing the baby bonus and pension payments as driving forces in young women falling pregnant so they can live off government hand-outs.

“I told her I will bring her son up if she wants her life back, but she said she won't give him up because she'll lose her pension,” Sharlene said.

Unfortunately Sharlene is not alone, according to Coffs Harbour Grandparents and Kinship Carers Support Service worker, Pam Lukey.

“In Coffs Harbour we have 89 carers whose median age is 60 yearsold,” Ms Lukey said.

“These are people who try to pick up the pieces from dysfunctional families characterised by drug and alcohol abuse, violence, physical and sexual abuse, imprisonment, suicide and even murder.”

Ms Lukey said kinship carers can find themselves in a 'bureaucratic minefield' that can cost them thousands of dollars, a situation she knows well as a carer for her two grandchildren.

“It cost me $36,000 to ensure my grandchildren's stability, and I've met people who've had to sell their house just to make sure their grandchild would be raised in a loving environment,” she said.

For Sharlene, money may be an issue but it's not her top priority.

“The law should be changed to protect the little ones, they're more important than anyone else,” Sharlene said.

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