The family of a woman whose baby was taken by police as she breastfed him in bushland near Byron Bay says she is an “incredibly loving, intuitive mother” and believes tourists dobbed her into authorities.
A distressing video released last week shows the teenage mum crying and pleading with police officers as they took the child from her as she sat topless and fed him.
“No. No! This is not right,” the mum pleads in the now-viral video. “This is my baby,” she says, telling officers it’s “against human rights”.
The mum was then restrained by two officers as she screamed, and her baby was forcibly removed from her arms by three other women.
The child was taken into foster care amid fears for his wellbeing.
The video sparked outrage in the Byron Shire community where the 17-year-old mum and the child’s father, 18, who cannot be named for legal reasons, live in various locations, including a bush and bush camp commune.
The family has set up a GoFundMe page, which has already raised more than $20,200 that they say will be used to “get our baby back”.
The teen mum’s sister told The Daily Telegraph she was an “incredibly loving, health-conscious and intuitive mother” who was “not your typical teenager”.
“(The baby) is healthy and big and happy and he is the calmest baby, he’s always laughing,” the sister, 19, told the publication.
She said she believed her nephew was taken after tourists complained to authorities about the family’s lifestyle, saying: “They deemed it an unsafe environment, the way they were living. There must have been eight complaints for this to happen. It could have been tourists who don’t understand their way of living.”
On the GoFundMe page, the family says the baby was taken by police “due to false and misleading information”.
“We eat and live an organic lifestyle and love spending our time in nature, swimming and having fun,” they said.
They said they “only wash our boy with fresh fluoride chlorine chemical free water from the sky” and worried the “the person with (our baby) is most likely using artificial perfume and bathing him in chems”.
On the page, the mother expressed concern her eight-month-old baby was “still meant to be breastfed” and “this is causing myself a lot of pain and risk of mastitis and drying of milk”.
The family also claimed the Department of Communities and Justice has not told them where the infant has been taken.
The department has told news.com.au it could not comment on individual matters.
“The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) takes concerns about children’s safety and wellbeing extremely seriously,” a spokesperson said.
“At times, however, the public’s concern is at odds with our statutory requirement to protect privacy.
“As a result, DCJ cannot comment on individual child protection matters.”
The video of the child being taken has been viewed more than 17,000 online.
In it, the topless mum, who had been breastfeeding the baby, tries to hold onto him, telling police “this is against human rights”.
“He’s uncomfortable,” the officer tells the mother.
“Let go of me,” she says back, crouching over her baby.
“No, I’m not going to let go of you,” I’ve got concerns for the safety and wellbeing of that baby.”
The woman then begins crying out, “This is my baby. No. You’re not taking him. This is my child, you’re not taking my baby. I will not have you take my baby.”
A group of two uniformed officers and three other women then seized on the woman and force the baby out of her arms.
“Leave my baby alone,” the mum screamed.
— with Phoebe Loomes.