Western Leader : February 2nd 2012
www.westernleader.co.nz 4 WESTERN LEADER, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 The International Travel College of New Zealand (ITC) has just opened a brand new Airport Training Centre at its City Campus. The centre will be the second of its kind in the country, the first having opened at ITC's Botany Campus in 2009. ITC, a premium supplier in the airline, airport and travel and tourism industries, recently won the award for innovation at the New Zealand Tourism Awards. "We know our Airport Training Centre, where we run our Certificate in Aviation, was a real contributing factor in that, " says ITC's Marketing Director Claire Huxley. "We are always seeking innovative ways to provide our students with real-life experience, and the practical nature of the course, which focuses on careers with an airline, airport or ground-handling agent, means that our graduates ready to work in their chosen fields." The facilities are certainly something special -- ITC's huge airport training centres simulate real-world airports, including check in, customs, gate lounges, and even planes where students are trained in all aspects of in-flight ser vice. The Certificate in Aviation course also incorporates the CODECO online check in system, currently used by 52 airlines worldwide. Students are trained to handle the stages before and during check in, check in variations and irregularities, and gate handling. Other specialist units include dealing with dangerous goods, aviation security and baggage processing. "I am learning so much about the travel industry," student Alison Harris says. "This course is grooming me for a job at the airport." There is a real confidence when you speak to the Certificate of Aviation students -- they know this is the right place for them to be. Student Helen says that after a visit to the airport "and having the staff members of Menzies Aviation comment on how everything we are learning here is relevant to a future job at the airport, it made me feelproud to have chosen to do this course and know that we are learning the right things to gain our future dream jobs." Both ITC's Botany and City Campuses are taking 2012 enrolments now. Find out how you can launch your career in the airline, airport, and travel and tourism industries by phoning the ITC team on 0800 868747 or (09) 373 5510 for more information. www.itc.co.nz ADVERTORIAL Are you ready to fly high? 4341515AA Those who care -- 'our grief is huge' It s a photo of a smiling baby hold- ing a little teddy bear. He s looking up at a smiling face, both full of love. I wept when I saw those smiles -- and the words that went with them. They re an echo of a top-level call for an urgent study of Child Youth and Family s duty to provide for young children like him. This deep concern is from those closest to the resulting pain -- carers who lovingly, willingly choose to carry the day and night burden of children in need. They tell of tears and fears, and paint a worrying picture. Carers experiences shared with this column bear out the concerns of former ombudsman Mel Smith whose report quoted last week calls for urgent study and action involv- ing kin placement and concerns among professionals that, too often, the wishes of a parent or parents or whanau prevail. That Smith report highlighted major problems which need urgent attention from the government -- and a Maori community and MPs appearing to ignore a problem which too often ends in injury or death for children who need aroha. That photo illustrates just one case history of many from critical carers: I collected him from a local hos- pital. A tiny scrap at one day old, but very beautiful. Typically, there was no social worker with me as I went about the myriad of papers to sign upon release into my care. Both his parents are in their 30s -- mother has drug problems and is transient. She had another child from another relationship, now in his teens and living with his biological father. She has been estranged from her own family for many years, working and living on the street. The baby was unnamed and remained so for the first six weeks. Of course we gave him a name for the time being. We loved him. We made it clear after only those first weeks that we were happy to look at a home with us for life. But CYF was looking into extended family of both his parents for care with whanau. None of his father s family was interested. A maternal uncle and his part- ner were but that uncle had a long list of convictions, including viol- ence and past gang associations. It took six months for a decision on this wee boy. By that time, he had formed strong bonds with our family and us with him. His father came weekly for supervised access. Although he was unsuitable to parent, he was com- mitted to these visits. CYF promised him regular air travel and accommodation for visiting. The maternal grandmother became CYF s next option -- as if she was the best they could come up with to return baby to whanau -- and keep the stats looking good. I spoke with grandma on the phone and had many concerns over what she said, which I documented. I reported these to CYF s social workers along with my own con- cerns over attachments, etc, and -- given her age -- the long-term future for the child. Grandmother was 62. I also wanted to ensure the best, thorough transition over several days to allow the baby the best poss- ible move to his new family. I was basically told where to go by CYF. Even offering our own home for grandma to stay and be able to care for baby in familiar surroundings as she got to know him and his routines, that she come to our house to see where her grandson had lived and been loved all those months ... But no way. She had made it clear that she and her husband s lifestyles as retired people wouldn t change in any way as CYF would have to pick up the slack so they could continue with holidays, gym time, golf, etc. We had a follow-up phone call after he left, and a watered-down offer of counselling only after I explained the huge impact his new placement had on our family includ- ing our own children. We have had one email from his grandmother on how he is, but other than that no information or contact. This is normal procedure. Grandma learned from CYF of my concerns and was totally anti-us as foster parents. CYF failed us and the baby by not keeping our concerns confiden- tial. Grandma refused to do any tran- sition. CYF flew her in for the hand- over, booked her for three days into a motel and flew her out. CYF also paid for her to have a support person with her, and pro- vided her with all the necessary fur- niture, car seats, clothes, respite care, etc, and a boarding allowance of $170 a week for her grandson. We get the standard board allow- ance which equates to about one cent an hour working on a 24-hour, seven day-a-week job, less the food and costs of caring for a child. Obviously from this we don t care-give for the money. And you feel you re on your own. Like the day I first picked him up, no CYF person was there when I handed him over at a local cafe. It was a very tense meeting and emotional, obviously, because we were handing over a very precious child we had picked up from hos- pital and brought home just as we would have if he was our own. I had prepared well for the hand- over, applied for new clothing so he would have new things to grow into over the next few months, asked CYF to buy him a suitcase for his things, bought toys, had a special blanket made for him, and a teddy, all from our own pockets. In 15 years of caring for babies I have managed to get CYF to buy me one car seat -- my husband and I have supplied the rest. We ve never been offered any respite care, or any other help. He was one of eight newborns we have cared for -- 18 children in all. Some have been moved to placements you could be happy about but there have been more I have been horrified about. We believe he s with his maternal grandmother but it was probably just a front for him to eventually end up in the care of the uncle CYF had refused. This was also hinted at by a social worker. I kept a diary of his first few months of life and I still hold this, in case he should want to know more about those six months with us. We prepared so well and so much for that day. The goodbye was brief and curt, and as I held him for the last time my heart was breaking. My eldest daughter who had helped care for him for those last six months was devastated. I ll always remember how she cried, and his grandmother turning on her -- What are you crying for? He s not your baby. Our grief is huge, we care-give because we care . . . and yet CYF tells us it s just a job and not to get emotional. How strange, when anyone knows that unless you care about these children we may as well com- mit them to a life of dysfunction, drug abuse, promiscuity and crime. We could almost send them off with a warning sign to the public, Back to their whanau, back to the cycle of abuse . All this foster family has is that diary, the smiling photo, their mem- ories and their misgivings. Next week: ''CYF told us: Don't fall in love with these children.''
January 31st 2012
February 3rd 2012