To the Honourable President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:
The petition of the undersigned shows:
More Aboriginal children are being forcibly removed from their homes by welfare agencies than at any time in Australian history. At June 30, 2015 there were 15,455 Indigenous children in ‘out of home care’, removed at ten times the rate of other children. The Bringing them Home report in 1997 detailed the horrific, intergenerational impact of forced removal policies during the 20th century.
The Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) is a national network of families who have suffered from unjust removals today. GMAR have negotiated a set a ‘guiding principles’ with Family and Community Services NSW in the New England region which, if implemented, would see extended family group conferencing and community consultation replace forced removal as a response to child protection concerns.
Your petitioners ask that the Commonwealth Parliament:
1. Stop forced removals: The Commonwealth must provide leadership for a national roll out of the GMAR guiding principles, providing local communities with the resources and opportunity to take ownership of child welfare.
2. Bring the children home: Significant Commonwealth funding is required for a national reunification program. This would involve independent reviews of all cases of Aboriginal children in out of home care, with a view to restoring children to their families and communities.
3. Aboriginal control and social justice: Implement the recommendations of the ‘Bringing them Home’ report in 1997 for reform of the current child protection system that it described as punitive and discriminatory. Key recommendations include: A national summit to plan for Aboriginal communities to take control; a ‘social justice investment package’ to help lift communities out of the poverty which is at the root of many welfare concerns.