The woman is scared for her granddaughter, who she has not seen in three months.
The woman is scared for her granddaughter, who she has not seen in three months. Francesca McMackin

Grandmother's fears for missing granddaughter, 11

A GYMPIE woman who believes her 11-year-old granddaughter is homeless and neglected is begging the child safety department to reopen the case and take action.

The grandmother, who cannot be named due to Family Court orders, said she had not seen the girl in three months.

She said her son is in prison, and his daughter is in the care of his former partner, who also has two younger daughters to another father.

The grandmother said the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services first stepped in more than a year ago, when the mother was "running a bit amok" and getting into drugs with a boyfriend aged under 20.

"The kids were never going to school at that stage," the grandmother said.

"Child safety got involved, and they put a plan of action in place with the families so that I was to look after my granddaughter until [the mother] could get herself back on track.

She cared for her granddaughter for about a year during that time.

"I got her to school; she was in a very stable environment, which was great," she said.

The mother then came asking for help, so the grandmother found her a granny flat to rent, before returning the girl to her mother's care in April.

But the mother fell pregnant again.

"She weakened, and got in touch with the boyfriend and told him that she was pregnant," the grandmother said.

"He started coming on the scene again and that's when everything had just fallen by the wayside, children starting to be neglected."

The mother, the boyfriend and the daughters left town about four months ago, and the grandmother said the girls hadn't been to school since.

About a month later, the grandmother lost contact with the family, and she said the mother has since ignored her messages and calls.

But the department said it would not reopen the case.

"They did no follow-up with it whatsoever," the grandmother said.

She believes her granddaughter would be "playing mother" to her two siblings, with the youngest under a year old, and fears the parents are driving with the children while high on ice.

She said the mother's own family didn't know where she was.

"Her mother has just made a complaint to the police, saying she's done a runner and they haven't sighted her for the last three or four weeks," the grandmother said.

"These kids have just been dragged from pillar to post, they're couch surfing."

Her weekly calls to the department have proven fruitless, and no action can be taken unless the girl is in real physical danger.

"They've told me that this does not warrant investigation," the grandmother said.

"However... the truancy officer is working with this, the police are working with this, but child safety keeps ignoring this problem."

"The police can't enforce anything unless they have action from the departments."

All the while, the grandmother is growing increasingly anxious over the girl's wellbeing.

"I'm on this merry-go-round, I don't know where to get off, I don't know who can help me," she said.

"While all this is happening, my granddaughter could possibly be wrapped around a tree right now, with these parents that are on ice driving around.

"I'm just appalled by the department, I really am. I just can't get any help."

She's now taking steps to use standing Family Court orders that give her rights to see her granddaughter.

"I also have orders in place with the Family Law courts, which were put in place about ten years ago, where I as a grandparent personally get my own rights to her, and I get her every sixth weekend, and also have the holidays," she said.

"She's breached those orders already."

She said she had a good relationship with her daughter-in-law and had been able to spend time with her granddaughter.

"We've never ever had to revert to the orders, because we've always come to an agreement," she said.

While she didn't blame the boyfriend for the mother's bad decisions, she said his access to drugs was too much temptation.

"It's just the boy that's come on the scene again."

Gympie Times


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