‘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!
29 JAN 2016| GRANDMOTHERS AGAINST REMOVALS SNAP PROTEST AT FACS, STRAWBERRY HILLS
“FACS did not engage with me or my family at all, they just took the babies” – Kukulangi Grandmother demands stolen grandchildren are returned to Queensland family
Kukulangi Grandmother and founder of Brisbane Sovereign Grannies Group, Aunty Karen Fusi, will address the protest to demand a meeting with FACS for the return of her grandchildren. She says she was not even notified when her grandchildren were removed.
Currently, there are more than 15,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in “out-of-home care” on any given night – the highest number of children forcibly removed in Australian history.
“FACS has a duty of care to my grandchildren to notify me, as their grandmother, of any concerns for their wellbeing. FACS did not engage with me or my family at all, they just took the babies”, said Aunty Karen Fusi.
She continued, “I am a concerned grandmother who has flown from Queensland to Sydney to support my daughter to make sure her children are returned to Queensland and their family and community. I am very afraid that in Sydney they will lose their Aboriginal identity”.
This protest forms part of a growing national movement against the ongoing Stolen Generations and is calling for a national restoration program to return stolen children to their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
Protest organiser and member of GMAR Sydney, Michelle Hoogesteger, says the grass roots movement is gaining momentum as affected families and communities across Australia are increasingly confident to speak out.
MEDIA CONTACT: Michelle Hoogesteger: 0405 709 881
Click here to view the “Guiding principles for strengthening the participation of local Aboriginal community in child protection decision making” developed by Grandmothers Against Removals.
Purpose: This document creates a set of guiding principles for FACS and local Aboriginal communities to work together in the practical application of the Act and relevant policies. The aim is for the document to be used by individual communities and FACS District offices across NSW to establish and guide their working relationship. It also sets out the structure of a State Wide Advisory Group to oversee the implementation of these guiding principles. These guiding principles envisage Aboriginal communities forming their own local advisory groups to:
• ensure Aboriginal community participation in decision making regarding the care and protection of Aboriginal children, as required under the Act and ACIF;
• support Aboriginal families and reduce the number of forced removals of Aboriginal children from their immediate and extended families;
• improve the access by Aboriginal people to local services and supports, and where recquired, interagency cooperation; and
• develop pathways of family restoration for Aboriginal children currently in out-of-home care.
The document is not intended to bind local communities. Rather, it aims to support Aboriginal self-determination by presenting a template that has been endorsed by GMAR, FACS and the NSW Ombudsman and can be adapted to suit the needs of individual communities. It will be important that this document is promoted widely to Aboriginal communities across NSW to enable them to opt into the arrangements it establishes and fulfil the new functions envisaged for local communities effectively.
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
A protest took place at parliament house today, raising serious issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander communities around Australia. The sit-in was a collaboration between several groups, but they shared a common goal; to voice their concerns. In NSW one in nine aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children is removed from their families. That’s the highest racial removal rate in the world. After a meeting with Indigenous affairs minister Nigel Scullion, some activists feel reassured that progress will begin. There is, however, a lot of work to be done. Click to read more.
The National Sovereign Grannies Group is calling for support as the removal rates of our kids from family increase.
Click here to read more.
The national movement against Stolen Generations reaches the press in Finland!
Fram till 1970-talet omhändertog de australiensiska myndigheterna tusentals av ursprungsbefolkningens barn och placerade dem i fosterhem och institutioner. Barn som fått benämningen ”den stulna generationen”. År 2008 bad Australiens regering offentligt om ursäkt. Ändå upprepas samma sak igen. Click here to read more.
About 100 people gathered in Brisbane ahead of the G20 leaders’ summit to protest against the treatment of Indigenous Australians. The group converged on Roma Street in the CBD this morning, with many draped in Aboriginal flags and holding placards. Click here to read more.
Grandmothers Against Removals (NSW) has condemned what it calls a continuing Stolen Generation of Aboriginal children, citing shocking statistics in the Productivity Commission report, Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage – Key Indicators 2014. Click here to read more.