The footage of NSW police in riot gear barging into a household at 6am to remove children was released during National Child Protection Week and has caused outrage across the country.
NITV reported, “The parents, who were asleep when the raid began, have told NITV News they awoke to find guns pointed at them and that they were then handcuffed by police as the children were forcibly removed in front of them”.
These revelations became public following a forum held by GMAR and NSW MP David Shoebridge in Moree last week as part of a recent engagement tour which also saw emotional meetings in Dubbo and Gunnedah. These meetings were well attended by Aboriginal families suffering from continuing Stolen Generations.
More Aboriginal children are currently being removed than at any time in Australia’s history, with over 14,000 now in “out of home care”. One in ten Aboriginal children in NSW is in the foster-care system.
While this raid with guns drawn is particularly shocking, the reality is that police are routinely used across Australia by Child Protection staff to forcibly remove Aboriginal children.
At a recent conference of our national network, the National Aboriginal Strategic Alliance to Bring the Children Home (NASA), a member from Alice Springs spoke about a baby being ripped from her mothers arms while pepper spray was pointed in her face. Sheila Oakley from Brisbane was recently blinded in one eye by police using a taser when they accompanied “Child Protection” to her house.
It is currently “National Child Protection Week”, sponsored by the Commonwealth government, seeking to raise awareness about child abuse and ensure it is reported to the authorities. But, as demonstrated by these raids, the police force and Child Protection departments are responsible for some of the worst trauma perpetrated on Aboriginal children.
This use of police is just one reflection of the brutality that underlies the crisis of mass child removal gripping Aboriginal communities.
Child protection departments continue to harbor racist attitudes and unjustly target Aboriginal families. Aboriginal children are increasingly removed from hospitals within hours of birth. The legal system continues to deny representation and any meaningful access to justice to Aboriginal parents suffering from child removal. Aboriginal children continue to be placed with non-Indigenous people, far away from their families, cut off from their culture and language. The NSW and Commonwealth governments are currently cutting services that provide assistance to families in crises and guard against removal, such as Aboriginal controlled women’s shelters and Legal Aid services.
But our network is growing in strength, successfully fighting for the return of many children. New GMAR groups are forming in Dubbo and Moree and are planning protest action. In Gunnedah, we have pushed FACS into negotiations about establishing an Aboriginal Community Expert Committee, accountable to the community, which could play a central role in decision making about Aboriginal child welfare.
We demand a complete moratorium on the use of police by Child Protection authorities.
We need Aboriginal control over all decisions affecting Aboriginal children and an urgent injection of resources into our communities to support families in crisis.
NASA has called a national mobilization outside Federal Parliament House on the anniversary of the National Apology on February 13 2015.
We will not accept the brutality of continuing Stolen Generations and will continue in our fight to stop removals.
FOR MEDIA COMMENT
AUNTY HAZEL (FOUNDING MEMBER OF GMAR NSW)
CONTACT: OLIVIA NIGRO 0401 955 405