The ABC has been forced to defend itself over an interactive story which provides real-life case studies of vulnerable children and asks readers to decide whether to remove them from their family.
The story, titled ‘You decide: Would you remove these children from their families?’, claims one of the six case studies came from The Benevolent Society, but the charity reckons it had no idea it was being used as a source or where the case study had come from.
“None of us have heard of this; we are trying to contact the ABC to find out,” a spokeswoman for The Benevolent Society told The Daily Telegraph.
The story has also drawn the ire of government ministers, with federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield and NSW Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward slamming the ABC.
“Vulnerable children are not clickbait,” Goward said.
“As a former ABC journalist, I am disappointed by this story.
“Serious issues like child protection should not be subjected to a yes-or-no vote from readers.”
Fifield said the format of the story was “neither appropriate nor worthy of the ABC”.
The ABC has since rubbished criticism that the story is “clickbait”, and said the case study it claims was sourced from The Benevolent Society came from a Resilience Practice Framework guide on the charity’s website.
“We often see public outcries about oversights in the child protection system asking, ‘Why didn’t they remove this child?’, and similar case studies are used regularly in the media,” an ABC spokeswoman told The Daily Telegraph.
“We wanted to find a way to put the reader into the situation.
“The interactive element does that effectively, in an innovative, thoughtful way.”
The ABC spokesperson also noted that the case studies were “carefully anonymised to ensure there was no risk of negative impact”.