Watch Jeff Tan’s inspiring film of GMAR Sydney’s National Sorry Day protest and call to action:
Grandmothers Against Removals called for urgent action on National Sorry Day, May 26th 2016
In Sydney grandmothers and other Aboriginal people directly affected by forced child removal by Family and Community Services (FACS) lead a protest in Redfern, marching from The Block to the FACS office in Strawberry Hills.
This protest, and more than two years of staunch campaigning across the nation, forced a recognition from all levels of government that the unprecedented number of Aboriginal children being removed from their families is unacceptable. Ongoing pressure by GMAR and the national stop stolen generations campaign is needed to ensure that the recent promises to implement GMAR’s Guiding Principles and a review of Aboriginal children removed from their families in NSW since 2014 are not only kept but proceed with Aboriginal control of all committee and review process.
GMAR calls for Aboriginal control of child protection case review
Thursday 23 June
Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) is calling for Aboriginal control of a review recently announced by NSW Family and Community Services (FACS) Minister Brad Hazzard into all Aboriginal children removed from their families NSW from 2014.
The announcement comes in the wake of the recent protests on ‘National Sorry Day’, and a forum called by Minister Brad Hazzard to consult with Aboriginal organisations and communities concerning the growing crisis of large scale removal of Aboriginal Children into Out-of-Home Care (OOHC). In NSW 1 in 10 Aboriginal children are currently in OOHC.
“Minister Hazard has only committed to to this review as a result of growing pressure and protests led by GMAR, a grass-roots community organisation founded by Aboriginal grandmothers fed up with a lack of consultation with Indigenous families and communities about their children. We are still waiting for a meeting with Mr Hazzard, who made a commitment to meeting with our group last November. For any change to happen, this review needs to be independant from FACS and Aboriginal controlled”, said Suellyn Tighe, a GMAR member from Coonabarrabran.
GMAR also believes a key focus of any review must be the identification of opportunities for the speedy reunification of Aboriginal children with their families and communities.
This will require resources for support and where necessary, for litigation, to realise the best interests of the child through reunification.
“This review is well overdue but it needs some teeth,” said Padraic Gibson, a researcher with Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at University of Technology, Sydney who supports the work of GMAR.
“GMAR has extensive experience working on a voluntary basis with Indigenous families fighting for the return of their kids. Winning reunification through the review of thousands of cases will require a serious commitment of resources to ensure the voices of families are heard,” he argues.
“We still need to push to ensure this happens in a timely fashion and that it is a fair and FACS continues to work with GMAR during this process,” says Laura Lyons, a member of GMAR Sydney, noting that “thus far no one has committed to a time frame.”
Both GMAR and Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) have publicly expressed their willingness and interest to play a central role in ensuring the review is in consultation with and representative of Indigenous families and communities.
“Appropriate support services and opportunities must be made available to make this work. Our current experience is that FACS is not willing to give up control of children, meaning litigation is necessary to get kids home,” says Gibson.
GMAR calls on Minister Hazard to respond to these positive offers and initiatives from interested Aboriginal community organisations. These assurances are necessary to ensure that the review is independent and one whose outcomes will ensure Aboriginal self-determination in decision making about Aboriginal children’s best interests.
End of Press Release
The group Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) was formed in January 2014 in an effort to highlight the process of removal used by the New South Wales Department of Children’s Services.
For more information contact
Grandmothers Against Removals GMAR
Ph: Suellyn Tighe 0467 460 582
Padraic Gibson 0415 800 586
Laura Lyons 0499 406 292
GMAR members and spokespersons are available for comment or interview.
Sorry Day Rally Sydney- Bring the Children Home!
‘Sorry Day’, May 26, will mark 19 years since the tabling of the Bringing Them Home report – a report which exposed the horrific impact of policies of forced Aboriginal child removal during the 20th Century. The report also detailed how many of the dynamics that led to the Stolen Generations continued in contemporary Australia, through the discriminatory actions of “Child Protection” departments in every state and territory. Since then, the theft of Aboriginal children has increased more than five fold and is now one of the most urgent crises facing Aboriginal communities.
On June 30 1997, there were 2,785 Aboriginal kids in “out of home care”. Now there are more than 15,000. The majority of these kids have not been placed with their Aboriginal families; and relatives are routinely denied ‘kinship carer’ status without justification. Children, including newborn babies, are being taken from parents who are homeless, while social housing is under attack. Children are being taken from women experiencing domestic violence, or caught in addiction, while shelters and programs are closed down. Many families are being persecuted by Family and Community Services (FACS) simply for being Aboriginal.
Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) is a national network initiated by families who are directly affected by the child removal crisis. GMAR is fighting for the implementation of the recommendations of the Bringing Them Home report, to bring an end to continuing stolen generations. The report said: “Our principal finding is that self-determination for Indigenous peoples provides the key to reversing the over-representation of Indigenous children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems of the States and Territories and to eliminating unjustified removals of Indigenous children from their families and communities” May 26 will be a National Day of Action demanding self-determination; along with demands for a Commonwealth-funded program to reunite Aboriginal children with their families and communities.
Here in Sydney, GMAR will lead a march on the Redfern FACS office, demanding local implementation of the “guiding principles” that were negotiated with Tamworth FACS last year. These principles mandate family group-conferencing, rather than forced removal; and take steps towards local forms of self-determination.
Watch out on the GMAR NSW Facebook page for updates on actions in other towns and cities – or organise your own march on May 26!
Sorry Day Rally, Brisbane- National Fight to Bring the Children Home
Sovereign Women United are part of the national movement demanding that the close to 16,000 Aboriginal children in “out-of-home care” across Australia be brought home. On this national day of action we demand government funding for a reunification program and Aboriginal control of Aboriginal child welfare!
If you’re in Brisbane join the fight at Musgrave Park, 26th May at 10am. March to DOCS head office.
Sorry Day Rally, Ballina
Bundjalung-Ballina Grandmothers Against Removals unite with Sydney and Brisbane in demanding an end to the stolen generations and immediate action on a national reunification program to bring the 15,000 Aboriginal children in “out-of-home-care” home. The GMAR movement continues to grow and tomorrow will see hundreds marching on DOCS/FACS offices to change an assimilationist system that continues to take Aboriginal children at ever increasing rates. The GMAR movement will see an end to these racist removals and to DOCS/FACS impunity.
Bundjalung- Ballina Grandmothers Against Removals Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Bundjalung-Ballina-Grandmothers-Against-Removal-973169999388736/
Grandmothers Against Removals Sydney public forum: Getting organised locally to stop forced child removal
Saturday 30th April
Redfern Community Centre
The continuing forced removal of children from their families is one of the biggest crises facing Aboriginal communities today. More children are being removed than at any time in Australia’s history, with almost 16,000 Aboriginal kids in ‘out of home care’ on any given night. More than half of these children have not been placed back with their Aboriginal family, despite the “Aboriginal placement principle” being mandated by law in every State and Territory.
This forum will discuss the recent formation of a Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) group here in Sydney and what action the local Aboriginal community wants to take to change the practice of Family and Communist Services (FACS) in the local area.
Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) is a national network that has been formed by families directly affected by forced removal to fight for change. Since forming two years ago, GMAR members have been at the forefront of challenging forced removals, with consistent work assisting families fighting to have their children returned, protests that have forced the issue into the national spotlight and negotiations with welfare departments in an attempt to change practice.
GMAR demands Aboriginal control of Aboriginal child welfare. We want to see resources and opportunities provided to struggling families, rather than the punishment and trauma of forced removal.
Gomeroi GMARs have negotiated a set of “guiding principles” with the FACS office in Tamworth. A new GMAR group in Ballina has just negotiated a similar agreement. The most fundamental of these principles is that FACS must engage in a process of family group conferencing, to find solutions to any issues while keeping children with their family. The “guiding principles” also allow for the formation of a local advisory group including both community representatives and Aboriginal services.
Please come to this forum and have your say about how we can push for change.
12pm rally Aboriginal Tent Embassy Canberra – March to Parliament House
Friday 29th January 2016
Family and Community Services- FACS- Office
Corner of Chalmers St and Cleveland St
No more! FACS is tearing families apart: we are fighting back!
The recently formed GMAR Sydney group is targeting this FACS office for it’s ongoing role in the forced removals of Aboriginal children from their families. These removals and placements of children in out-of-home-care often breach policies, occur in the absence of support or engagement with families and without restoration plans. Abrupt “stealth” removals have become standard practice, creating intense trauma and dislocation for the children, families and community at large.
Founding member of the Sovereign Grannies group in Brisbane, Aunty Karen Fusi, is flying in to speak at the protest about the devastation child removals have caused her family and building the fight back. Friday’s protest will demand an immediate meeting with FACS management. Families will be heard!
Currently, there are more than 15,000 Aboriginal children in “out-of-home care” on any given night. This is more children than were forcibly removed at any point in Australian history. More than half of these children have not been placed back with their Aboriginal family, despite the “Aboriginal placement principle” being mandated by law in every State and Territory. There has also been a national push for changes in legislation that are seeing many more children removed until 18 years of age, with new “permanent guardianship” laws either planned or in place across Australia.
Stop the stolen generations and bring children the home!
Bring banners and placards. Spread the word!
GMAR is leading a conference at Matagarup, the Perth Tent Embassy from May 24 – May 30, to strategise for the future and to march on May 26 – Please share
On ‘Sorry Day’, May 26, the national network Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) will lead a protest in Perth against continuing Stolen Generations. This date marks 18 years since the release of the ‘Bringing Them Home’ report. This report detailed the horrors of the Stolen Generations of the 20th Century and called for urgent action to stop the continued removal of Aboriginal children from their families by ‘child protection’ agencies.
Since 1997 however, the number of Aboriginal children being forcibly removed has increased more than five times, with more than 15,000 Aboriginal kids in foster care today. In WA more than half of all children in ‘care’ are Aboriginal, despite being less than 5% of the population. This is an urgent national crises and affected families are fighting back. Grandmothers Against Removals stand as representatives of Sovereign Aboriginal Nations and fight for restoration of their sacred children to their people. Over the past 18 months the group has forced the issue into the national and international media spotlight, helped many families win their children back and forced negotiations with welfare departments in different states.
GMAR is appalled that WA Premier Colin Barnett is using “child protection” as an excuse to forcibly remove entire communities from their lands, recycling the same lies about child abuse used to justify the NT Intervention. These forced closures will be systematic child abuse on a massive scale, putting families into destitution, more kids into foster care, more adults into prison.
GMAR is leading a conference at Matagarup, the Perth Tent Embassy from May 24 – May 30, to strategise for the future and to march on May 26. Western Australia has been chosen as a focus for the conference to show solidarity with communities facing closure and help build links between the struggles. Your support is vitally important to help us fight for the right of children to live with their families and the right of all Aboriginal people to live on their lands and determine their own futures.
Donations are urgently required to assist with the costs of travel, accommodation, food and other logistics for the conference. Please give generously and spread this message through your networks.
Donations can be made to:
Grandmothers Against Removals WA
BSB: 633 000
Account Number: 154 186 902
For more information contact:
Vanessa Culbong 0475 790 046
Albert Hartnett 0478 166 033
GMAR Rally February 13 2015
(NITV News 12 February feat. GMAR members)
Communique from Grandmothers Against Removals National Committee and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy rally on the anniversary of the National Apology – February 13 2015
Today we march in protest against the unprecedented theft of Aboriginal children from their families by so-called “Child Protection” agencies across Australia.
We are in urgent need of protection from the criminal actions of these Departments, who persecute Aboriginal families and mobilise police to terrorise children with forced removals. More Aboriginal children are forcibly separated from their families at this moment than at any time in history.
We march in solidarity with the many Aboriginal families who suffer the fresh pain of forced removal every day. We march in solidarity with the black children who run away in fear from foster care placements and institutions every night.
We march to mark seven years since then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made an “apology” to the Stolen Generations of the 20th Century, an apology loaded with the worst hypocrisy, given the crescendo of forced child removals that took place under the watch of his government.
There are currently more than 15,000 Aboriginal children in so-called “out of home care”. The majority of these removals are for alleged “neglect” – the exact rationale provided for tens of thousands of 20th Century removals. It is a term used to denigrate Aboriginal culture and the love and care provided by Aboriginal families and communities. It is a term that masks the systematic neglect of governments that enforce conditions of extreme poverty and social trauma on our communities. It is a term used to justify a continuing project of forced assimilation.
We march to demand recognition of the continuing Sovereignty of our nations and our fundamental right to determine our own future – we have been camping with the National Freedom Movement at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy for the last three weeks and support their manifesto.
We demand Aboriginal control of Aboriginal child welfare and a massive transfer of resources into Aboriginal hands to deal with unacceptable social conditions. We demand an end to the removals and a moratorium on the use of police armed with guns, batons and pepper spray to take children.
We demand a national restoration program to bring our children home. We have met with Nigel Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, who promised to work with us on this restoration program and an independent system that can monitor abuse from “Child Protection” – we will hold him to these promises and need to see immediate action in this regard.
There must be an end to the “mandatory reporting” system which creates a culture of fear and distrust with the schools, health and social services in our communities due an avalanche of reports from workers making racist assumptions about our families. Disgracefully, many of our own Aboriginal organisations are tied up in this reporting regime, enforced by funding agreements and draconian legislation.
We demand the full domestic implementation of the 1948 Genocide Convention into Australian law by repealing section 268.121 and 268.122 of the International Criminal Court (Consequential Amendments) Act 2002, in order to enable a challenge to the destruction of our religion, culture, bloodlines and communities by forced child removal and creating conditions of life set to destroy the group in whole or in part.
We appeal to all workers and organisations that have any contact with “Child Protection” to come out in support of our struggle. Our children are being taken out of schools, hospitals, playgrounds and homes across Australia. You MUST refuse to co-operate with this mass kidnapping of our children. You can help re-build the community controlled organisations that are needed to deal with any problems in our communities.
We call for international solidarity actions against the ongoing colonial oppression of Aboriginal people in Australia, as people fought Apartheid in South Africa – boycotts, sanctions and divestment. The Australian government commits troops to so called “peacekeeping” missions overseas, but we need an international volunteer force on the ground here to protect us from the ongoing war on our communities.
Our next day of action will be “National Sorry Day”, on May 26. We will mobilise again on Universal Children’s Day in October. We need people to join us in protests in your thousands. Workers from Aboriginal and child welfare organisations should stop work and show their solidarity with our struggle.
We will continue with our struggle until all of our babies are home.
The national movement to Stop Stolen Generations has gone live! Check us out: