DoCS take custody of 7 children

SEVEN children at risk of harm have been removed from a Coffs Harbour home following a raid by the Department of Community Services.

The children, believed to be aged between 10 months and 11 years, are currently staying with family and departmental foster carers as a result.

A neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Coffs Coast Advocate that residents on the suburban street have been concerned about the children for some time.

“If you could see what I see – the kids are stick thin,” the neighbour said.

“I once saw some of the kids pushing a baby in a stroller, and when the baby fell out, the parents were nowhere to be seen.”

A spokeswoman for DoCS said children are only removed when there is a significant risk of harm.

“For a child to be placed in care, DoCS must provide the Children's Court with recommendations and evidence that a child is at risk of harm in a current care arrangement,” the spokeswoman said.

“DoCS never takes these decisions lightly.”

The neighbours have notified the authorities in the past due to the mental and physical abuse they have seen.

“Swearing, hitting, there's a difference between discipline and total abuse,” the neighbour said.

“You hear about these things happening in the cities, in Sydney, but it's actually happening right here, in our street.”

In the past week, a Brisbane mother and father have been charged with murder and torture following the deaths of their 18-month-old twins.

In Adelaide, a pregnant mother has been charged with criminal neglect after five of her seven children were among 21 kids found living in filth, while a 35-year-old mother has appeared in a Canberra court charged with neglecting her four children by leaving them home alone in squalid conditions.

National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect chief executive officer, Maree Faulkner, said recent cases of child neglect are just the tip of the iceberg.

“Our concern is that people don't see this as a handful of appalling cases and appalling people,” Ms Faulkner said.

“This is a much, much bigger issue than these three recent cases.”

In NSW last year, there were more than 280,000 notifications of suspected child neglect or abuse, and nationally 30,000 children are removed from their homes for their own protection.

Responding to the recent cases, Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, said the government is exploring ways to streamline child protection measures.

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