Publishing the Book: Children of the State
Stolen for Profit
Let’s face it: this is a tough sell.
In the beginning was the Word.
Well, there was a radio show called Dads On The Air.
We were a small group of that most unfashionable of all people. Separated, sad, angry, overwhelmed fathers.
But unlike most such creatures we had an outlet.
Australia is uniquely gifted with an often underutilised community radio network gifted to the present day from the 1970s.
We were a bunch of separated, extremely pissed off fathers who regard the country’s family law, child support and child protection systems as not just damaging and dysfunctional, but fundamentally corrupt.
You couldn’t shut us up.
Australia’s secretive and despised family law system is now, due to the repeated failure to reform its abysmal and discredited processes, the subject of growing demands for a Royal Commission. As controversial as we were in the day, operating on the very borders of what could be published and broadcast, history, the passing of time, has proven us correct.
Back then we were well out on a limb.
We would do a program talking about malfeasance and the rise of groups such as Fathers4Justice, and wait for the Australian Federal Police to come knocking.
The Family Court, known as a “Superior Court” in the Australian judicial system, is protected by swathes of legislation which make it almost impossible to report on. At the time it was launching repeated attacks on its many critics, including hitting protesters with the arcane charge of “scandalising the court”.
We knew we were being watched.
The Australian Family Court, like similar courts throughout the Western world, is wrapped in the dogma of feminist jurisprudence. Facts are just weapons that men use to batter women and perpetuate the system.
Ordinary punters, with no knowledge or experience of the legal system, find themselves in a parallel universe. Commonsense is at the bottom of the barrel.
Radical progressives, as the jargon goes, are now radical regressives.
Truth is of no consequence.
Fathers, desperate to remain in contact with their children to protect them from harm, were simply dismissed as winging failed litigants by the courts and the well oiled child removal lobby. No democracy can survive that treats so much of its own population with such contempt.
The massively well funded feminist groups would all fume: where do they get the money from?
The truth: we had no money whatsoever.
Amazing what being incensed about an injustice can actually achieve.
We soldiered on, from the days when we couldn’t do interviews, through to our first website, to the current era of podcasts and social media.
Year followed year. We were desperately short of everything, money, goodwill, technical skills, and hands on deck.
Dads On The Air has now been broadcasting since 2000, and is the world’s longest running radio program dedicated to fatherhood issues. It has been a phenomenal success.
Back in 2006 we got a call from someone calling himself Peter van de Voorde.
He had just released an album Our Stolen Children.
His entertainment career included writing and recording a top-10 hit single, TV appearances and a seven month tour of Southeast Asia entertaining troops during the Vietnam War.
Could he come in and play it?
Fast forward a decade and we all owed Peter a huge favour.
He had done vast amounts of volunteer work for Dads On The Air, including arranging interviews, writing editorials, managing the website, editing and uploading the shows each week.
“It was a full time job,” he recalls. “It was a five hour drive from my farm at Gum Scrub to the studio. I was dedicated. Bloody mad, mate. Obsessive.
“But I’m glad to have done it, it was part of the journey and life’s adventure. I learnt so much.
“People like Greg Andresen, another volunteer on the show, taught me all the technical stuff. John still sends me up because when I first met him, I didn’t know the difference between an email and a website. I’ve come a long way.”
Peter had been inviting me to visit his place outside a lost in time village called Telegraph Point and one day I decided to call in.
Family law and related issues are a bottomless pit of pain.
Facing government hostility and community indifference, most activists burn out sooner or later.
But Peter was still there. And he was determined that the issues went well beyond fathers or dads issues into child protection.
He always argued that we should call ourselves Families on the Air, not Dads on the Air. To be more inclusive. We saw it as appeasement. Back then, we saw it as appeasement.
Later, with some assistance, Peter set up a small lobby group, Family Briefing, which aimed to take the fight on child protection to the perpetrators of the country’s rotten-to-the-core systems.
“I had so much information running around in my head and had gathered so much evidence I didn’t know what to do with it all,” van de Voorde recalls.
“I produced a one hour audio documentary recording many of the voices of those affected as children and intertwined them with the voices of our political leadership apologising for the pain inflicted by their predecessors, for the babies stolen from their mothers at birth and for the children transported to the colonies as child migrants. And for the so-called Stolen Generation — the indigenous children routinely removed from their parents.
“It clearly illustrated the hypocrisy of those apologies, since they were in the process of inflicting the very same pain on their own constituents of which they were accusing their predecessors.”
An author for the first time in his life, Peter van de Voorde puts it thus:
I had never written a book and will never write another.
It was momentous.
It took two years of my life.
It was the hardest thing I've ever undertaken.
It was exhausting.
I was way out of my comfort zone. I never went to university. Making sense of such a sensitive subject, I could not have done it without the experience broadcasting in the field of child protection for so many years gave me.
I don’t mind admitting a certain obsessive trait helped get me across the line. My nature doesn’t allow me to walk away half way through a project; my character trapped me into it.
I was never going to say, I will give it away after awhile. I had to see it through.
Eventually it was all done.
The writing. The editing — farmed out to a newspaper sub-editor of long experience. The cover design, by one of the world’s best cover designers. The interior design, by another expert in her field.
Uploaded and ready to go, came the time to write the blurb and start promoting.
And so we wrote:
Today, every minor child is at risk of being deprived of the protection of their biological family, because we have collectively failed to recognize the supreme guardianship powers of the State.
Perceived legal rights to the protection of their own family, something everybody assumes parents and children are entitled to, are in fact non-existent.
This has resulted in the creation of a multi-billion dollar child-removal industry, engaged in the redistribution of stolen children for profit, across the Western world.
Twelve years in the making, Children of the State: Stolen for Profit, presents a devastating compilation of statistics and analyses of failed family and child protection systems.
It provides a detailed account of morally indefensible international family and child protection laws and practices, which combine to provide legitimacy to the involuntary removal of millions of children from their biological families.
Cumulatively impacting more than 25% of the Western world’s population, with most countries pouring more of their taxpayer funded budgets into waging war against their own constituents then they spend on national defence against external threats, that this issue is not at the top of national agendas places a huge question mark over the quality of our collective conscience and vigilance.
Without rights or anyone to turn to, the overwhelming socioeconomic consequences of misguided family and child protection policies reach deep into every community. It’s where our families, friends and neighbours, struggle in silence each day with the effects of their imposed loss of family protection.
Children of the State: Stolen for Profit, leaves no stones unturned as it prudently explores urgently needed viable alternatives for those left disempowered without a voice.
For our political leadership, claiming ignorance is no-longer a viable option.
Minister for Children Runs for Cover
By a curious coincidence Peter van de Voorde’s local Federal representative was Dr David Gillespie, who at the time, in Australia’s tediously unstable political realm, was the Assistant Minister for Families and Children.
He was the obvious choice to launch the book and nothing ventured nothing gained, we decided to ask him.
As per standard protocol we went through his media adviser. We sent him a copy of the book and some days later one of his staff confirmed that the Minister would be more than pleased to launch the book at the Tea Gardens Library, near where the author lives.
We booked the venue and the library staff, pleased to be involved with a local author, prepared advertising to promote the event.
Then the bad news struck.
One of the Minister’s flunkies, Tony Jiwan, emailed to say:
“Unfortunately due to other commitments Dr David Gillespie will not be able to attend the book launch.”
To which I responded: “I would be curious to know what was more pressing than a Minister for Families and Children launching a book on the subject of child protection by one of his constituents.”
In a subsequent phone conversation the truth came out: The Minister could not be seen to be launching a book which might criticise the department or government practices.
Australia is, more than any other Western country, a failing democracy.
People elect politicians in the mistaken belief they are electing someone who will represent their views. They do nothing of the kind.
Politicians protect the corruption and dysfunction of the courts and the country’s inept bureaucracies.
Normally politeness itself, Peter van de Voorde says:
What does this say about the character of the man? That he would put the interests of his department ahead of the protection and well-being of the nation’s children.
How does such behavior compare with that of all those recently charged with widespread cover-up of child sex abuse in order to protect the reputation of their relevant institutions?
Although it threw us into chaos, the withdrawal of the Minister made me glad I had included in the book the quote from Martin Luther King:
I have almost reached the lamentable conclusion that the Negro’s great
stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White
Citizen’s Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate,
who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative
peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the
presence of justice.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s words are a judicious reminder. For those of us who no longer wish to remain silent, the task of dismantling decadent 400-year-old child-removal policies will be painful.
It will involve the earning of self-respect and becoming ‘comfortable with discomfort’. It will require conflict, disorder and division from some of those we hold dear and the challenging of cherished myths.
Whenever I am asked what my qualifications to write this book I just say:
I came face to face with a terrible injustice playing out under our noses.
I now refer to myself simply as an ex-member of the silent majority.
John Stapleton is the founder of A Sense of Place Publishing. He worked as a journalist on The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian for more than 20 years. He is an occasional contributor to The New Daily. A collection of his journalism is being constructed here.
Born in Holland, the eldest of five children, Peter van de Voorde migrated to Australia with his family when he was eleven years old.
His family spent the first four years living in a tent on the northern beaches of Sydney.
My basic needs were met. I was safe, I was loved by my parents, and it taught me that you don’t need to grow up in a mansion. I never once felt like a second class citizen. I was happy.
Adventurous and with an early love of music, carpentry, horses and farming, he went on to become a musician and entertainer, licensed builder, farmer, resort manager and ultimately a researcher, producer and broadcaster.
A life-changing event would have an impact on the rest of his life and cause him to commence a totally unexpected journey of discovery.
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