27 March | Goward’s law reform will entrench stolen generations

Child protection reforms passed by Minister for Family and Community Services (FACS) Pru Goward last night will put generations of children at risk of being “stolen” and will devastate Aboriginal families and those of lower socio-economic brackets, critics say.
Despite widespread opposition from service providers, legal networks and Aboriginal communities, the amendments passed by the NSW Parliament will fast track adoption, privatise ‘guardianship’ of children and make reunification of families close to impossible. Children of victims of domestic violence will also be increasingly targeted and at risk of forced removal under these laws.

Mary Moore, board member of the Australian Legislative Ethics Commission and member of Children and Parents Support Group says that these changes coupled with government cuts to support services will create a crisis of more child removals.
This legislation does not have any provision to ensure early intervention or better supports for vulnerable children and families at all. Government funding cuts means there are not enough services to families which will mean parents are unable to comply with their agreements and their children will be forcibly removed”, she continued.

Goward’s push for forced adoptions is about privatizing the care of children, not about protecting them. She even said in parliament that it was “all about money”, not about the best interests of children and families”, Moore continued.

Grandmothers Against Removals, a newly formed group in Gunnedah, who have launched a protest movement against the disproportionate impact of child removal practices on Aboriginal families say these amendments will intensify “an ongoing stolen generation”.

Aunty Hazel, GMAR spokesperson said, “The numbers of Aboriginal children currently in out-of-home care are already the highest ever recorded in Australian history. Almost 10% of all Aboriginal children in NSW are in out-of-home care. FACS will only be bolder to remove children in the wake of these new laws which will entrench the crisis of ongoing stolen generations”.

On February 13 to mark the anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, GMAR protested outside NSW Parliament House calling for an end to punitive child removals.

Aunty Hazel continued, “GMAR has called another protest at Tamworth FACS office on April 11 to say no to Goward’s new laws and demand that FACS’ prioritise supporting families to stay together, not rip them apart and create trauma and profound suffering for children and parents”. Please find details for April 11 protest attached.

Moore says that certain provisions of the legislation allow for the forced medication of children in care when they present with symptoms of trauma after removal (refer to page 5 of the bill).
Children in care can now be given any unapproved drug or treatment a guardianship agency wants. It is shocking. Significantly high numbers of children in care are already on dangerous drugs because of the trauma of their forced removal from their families so foster parents can better manage them”, Moore continued.  
Aunty Hazel concluded, “FACS’ criminal child removal practices are not going unnoticed by the worldRecent articles in the The Guardian and Time Magazine have drawn attention to the ongoing horror for Aboriginal families and we will keep fighting to expose FACS and Goward until families get the support they have a right to”.

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