One of Australia’s best barristers has been hired to help reunite an eight-month-old baby with his teenage parents after he was taken from them and placed in foster care, friends of the couple claim.
Distressing footage emerged of the baby being ripped from his mother’s arms as she breastfed him in a car park in Brunswick Heads, near Byron Bay on the NSW North Coast, on January 15th.
Family and Community Services said the family’s lifestyle choices – including living outdoors and their strict anti-vaccination stance – was putting the little boy at risk.
At a court mention last week, the family and their supporters are understood to have arrived with a local ‘shaman’ to defend them.
Since then a representative for the family claimed they have hired a top lawyer to represent them when the matter returns to the family court.
Family friends have also questioned whether the state had any right to take the baby, given he was allegedly never registered and does not have a birth certificate.
A family friend also made the bizarre claim the baby could not be legally removed from his parents’ care because he was allegedly never registered and does not have a birth certificate.
While the lifestyle is unorthodox, those close to the situation insist the woman (pictured together) is a ‘great mother… doing what she thinks is best for her baby’
‘We all became property of the Commonwealth [when we got birth certificates] and that means we have to abide by the Queen’s laws… I believe there is some kind of loophole here,’ the friend told Daily Mail Australia.
Australian parents must register a child within 60 days or eight weeks of birth.
Without registration papers and a birth certificate, a child cannot travel overseas, enrol in school or access Medicare.
The young parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have been granted access to their son for a couple of hours at a time, a few days a week.
But the 17-year-old mother has said leaving her child again was too much to bear.
‘This will leave both mother and son with more abandonment wounds and trauma, so they have decided not to take up this offer,’ the friend said.
The baby’s mother was ’15 or 16′ when she fell pregnant and after going into labour on the beach, presented at her local hospital to give birth. Pictured: Mother and son together
An eight-month-old baby was forcibly removed from his mother’s care while she was in the process of breastfeeding him
Daily Mail Australia understands the Department of Family and Community Services has been involved in the infant’s life since he was born.
His mother was 15 or 16 when she fell pregnant and after going into labour on the beach and presented at her local hospital to give birth.
Her own mother wasn’t at the hospital and nurses quickly established that she and her young boyfriend did not have a fixed address.
Family services were called and explained that they weren’t allowed to leave hospital with their baby unless they had an address to return to – so they provided the teen’s older sister’s address as a base.
The couple lived there for a short time but eventually decided to return to their outdoor lifestyle and raise their baby within the bush community.
Authorities then kept a close eye on the couple before eventually swooping in on January 15 and removing the baby.
‘They just wanted to live on the land and raise their child how they wanted,’ a friend explained.
The boy’s father (pictured with the baby) is concerned about how he is being treated in foster care. The young couple, who are 17 and 18, were resolved to raise him outdoors and ‘on the land’
The officers initially try to reason with her and convince her to hand her baby over, before eventually trying to peel her off him
‘This is not a neglected child, this child is thriving and nourished and very bonded with his mother.
‘This is discrimination for how these parents want to raise their child. All she wants is to nourish and nurture her baby.’
Since the baby’s removal, his mother has developed mastitis due to not being able to breastfeed, and both parents are said to be heartbroken.
The confronting footage of the removal taken last month shows the topless mother clutching her little boy to her chest as she pleads with police to leave her alone.
‘This is not right, this is my baby. Please don’t take him,’ she repeatedly says.
The young couple (pictured) allegedly appeared in court alongside a ‘local shaman’ to help return their baby. They have now enlisted the help of a ‘top barrister’
The baby’s father expressed concerns about the way he is being supported in the care of authorities. He said he was particularly worried the chemicals in which his baby is being bathed in and the thought of him sleeping alone
In the video, the young mother argues with several officers and support workers from family and community services, who arrived in her commune in the Byron Shire to remove the little boy.
While their ‘outdoor lifestyle’ is unorthodox, those close to the situation insist the woman is a ‘great mother… doing what she thinks is best for her baby’.
The officers initially try to reason with her and convince her to hand her baby over, before eventually trying to peel her off him.
They repeatedly tell her she is ‘hurting the baby’ as she tries to keep a hold of him.
One of the support workers at one stage hears the baby cry and tells the woman that there is no other outcome than him leaving her care.
‘He’s crying… We’ll sort stuff out but he’s going to have to go. This is not going to end any differently at the moment.’
The woman then says she has ‘concerns for the safety and well being of the baby’.
The baby’s father expressed concerns about the way he is being supported in the care of authorities.
What does it mean if a child was not registered at birth?
After giving birth, parents must register their baby within 60 days – or before the baby is eight weeks old.
This is not done at the hospital, but is free to do. It is how a child receives an official name and paperwork that they require for the rest of their life.
The birth must be registered before a family can get a birth certificate.
A birth certificate is needed to apply for:
– Access to healthcare and other government services
– Entry to childcare, kindy or school
– An Australian passport
Confronting footage shows the shirtless mother clutching her little boy close to her chest as she repeatedly asks the officers to leave her alone
He said he was particularly worried the chemicals in which his baby is being bathed in and the thought of him sleeping alone.
‘He sleeps in between [his mother] and I… Never by himself. When he wakes up at night, mumma is right there with her breast,’ he explained.
‘He never cries, is always smiling and laughing. We don’t know when he will return but we hope to be reunited soon.’
The graphic footage sparked outrage online among the parents’ community, many of whom criticised the support workers for telling the young mum that she was ‘hurting’ her baby in the video.
One of the women said: ‘He’s getting squeezed and he’s crying. You’re squeezing him when you do that action.’
In response, the mother said that her ‘chest isn’t even on him’ and again reiterated that she did not want to hand her boy over.
A fundraising appeal to fund the family’s legal costs has already raised more than $25,000.