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The Hon Pru Goward MMinister for Family and Community ServicesLevel 34, Govener Macquarie Tower1 Farrer PlaceSydney NSW 2000
30 June 2017
Dear Minister Goward,
I am calling on you to intervene in the unjustified, cruel and dangerous removal of Chase Walker-Steven from his parents. It is my will that you have him returned to the loving care of his family immediately. As a witness, and extremely concerned Australian citizen, I feel it is my duty to inform you of this wrongdoing that needs urgent rectification.
Chase is a non-verbal 4yr old boy with severe Epilepsy and Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. His parents, Cini and Marc, created a Facebook page called Chasing Hope, initially to raise funds for a wheelchair. When I first saw him in December last year he was having multiple seizures and painful wind-fits, some lasting up to 30 minutes long. He rarely expressed any emotion and made little physical movement. His parents felt as though his health was deteriorating and began to worry for his life. They decided to try a different treatment for Chase, while continuing to fundraise and document his progress on Facebook through live video footage. With the support of a new medical team at a different hospital, they began a specialized diet of organic foods and vitamin supplements, along with medicinal Cannabis oil for the seizures. Over the next couple of months I witnessed vast improvements in his abilities and a major increase in quality of life for Chase and his family. With the loving encouragement of his mother he started to open his hands, uncurl and stretch his toes out and lift his head up unassisted. Not only did the seizures stop, Chase began smiling and laughing for the first time in three years. He was more alert and aware of his surroundings than ever. Clearly this new treatment was far better suited to him than the one he was previously on.
Chase was living in a happy, loving, safe and secure family environment. I witnessed Cini give her son the comfort and love only a mother can give – knowing and responding to his every cue, around the clock. I saw Marc support his son through seizures, and massage his head and body afterwards. I watched in admiration at the dedication and high-level care his devoted parents were providing for him and his sisters, despite their disadvantages.
On May 19th, much to my horror and disbelief, NSW FACS and Police removed Chase from his parents without trial or justified grounds. They claimed to have concerns for his Potassium levels, however even after the pediatric doctor performed blood tests and confirmed that Chase was healthy and in no imminent danger, they still chose to forcibly remove him from his deeply devastated parents. I desperately hoped that this horrible error in judgement would soon be rectified and that he would be returned to his parents after the weekend.
It has now been forty one days and Chase is still separated from his family. I feel outraged and overwhelmed with grief at the injustice I have witnessed. I have never felt such uncertainty and distrust in Australia’s system, and thanks to social media I know many share my sentiments. As you are aware, a nation’s trust in it’s leaders, sense of security and respect for the law is essential for maintaining order within society. You mentioned this in your inaugural speech when you said “people must have confidence in the legal system – the police, the way the courts deal with offenders and victims, and also the lawmakers”. You spoke of the power that comes with your position when you said you would “serve the people” and “defend them, and protect them”. I implore you to honour these words and use your authority to stop the suffering of this vulnerable and voiceless boy and his family.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of The Child state that the “best interests of the child shall be a primary concern”. Chase’s happiness, security, physical, mental and emotional wellbeing is being compromised by this cruel infliction of emotional trauma and physical pain. He has been starved of love from the only family he has ever known, and stripped of any sense of belonging and connection to the world. It’s well researched that this kind of alienation can cause significant longterm trauma to any child, let alone one who is unable to express himself or communicate verbally. The sudden switch back to synthetic foods and drugs will be affecting his digestive system again. His seizures will have returned and every seizure poses the risk of long term neurological damage or loss of life. These combined factors pose significant longterm damage and put Chase’s life in extreme danger which is clearly not in Chase’s best interest. Therefore, this act is a serious violation of Australia’s international human rights obligations.
I trust that the correspondence you have received from the public, along with the petition that has been delivered to you with over 104,000 signatures from individuals asserting their will that you rectify this situation, will be enough for you to take direct and urgent action to have Chase returned to his loving family.