A vulnerable child?

The term ‘vulnerable’ has been throw around a lot in recent months. As a global community we have banded together, locked ourselves away, watched as businesses have come to a halt, in a combined effort to ensure that the ‘vulnerable’ in our society are given a chance to live.

When I speak of a taking care of the ‘vulnerable’ in our community, I’m talking of a lifestyle change (as we have all done without question over the last few weeks) but the vulnerable in my story, and those of other child advocates, isn’t met with the same urgency as we have all experienced in 2020.

So who is the vulnerable child? While we may believe that we live in a civilised society where the impacts of child poverty are not felt. But what I have learnt about poverty is that it is not about how much money you have, it is about the options and opportunities you have access to.

So here in Australia, where every child has free medical care, free education, government welfare support and rare incidences of natural disasters, how can we still have vulnerable children?

Because not all children are born equally. If you are born…

…Indigenous,

…In poverty,

…From an uneducated family,

…Premature,

…Disabled,

…From a remote community,

…Exposed to drugs and alcohol,

…have Experienced family violence (even in utero),

Or between the ages of 0 and 5,

You may be considered ‘at risk’ or ‘vulnerable’.

Of course this is a generalisation. Just because you have experience one or more of the above doesn’t mean you will be at risk of entering the out of home care system, or that you would be at risk of any other ‘system’. But the journey to foster care isn’t overnight, it is a complicated layer of factors that stem often from generational disadvantage, poor choices or historical forces.

There are 50000 children in Australia that have been considered so vulnerable in their homes of origin that they have entered the foster care system. I dare say that number would double or triple if we were to know the number of families involved in intensive support or who are flying under the radar.

There is so much we need to do. I wish we could see a movement for these children in the same way we have seen during the Covid crisis. It wouldn’t mean hiding out at home, infant, it would likely be the opposite! Doing life right alongside the vulnerable. Messy, complicated, painful but worth giving precious children an opportunity to truly live.

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