A protest outside the parliament house in Canberra. From left to right: uncle Paul Paul Spearim, Boe Knows, Laurence Coghlan, Kumba Coombes, Graham Merritt, Lara Pullin. (activists)
The Australian Greens party and Indigenous communities could be about to team against the high rate of Indigenous child removals.
Indigenous leaders in the rural New South Wales town of Dubbo met with Australian Greens MP David Shoebridge on Friday to discuss the high rate of Indigenous child removals.
“The stories are the same that we hear in Gunnedah, Tamworth, and Moree, which is that often the first contact they have with the Department (of Family and Community Services, or FACS) is a knock on the door late on Friday afternoon, a FACS worker surrounded by police, and the children are removed,” Shoebridge told public broadcaster ABC.
“There’s no prior contact to try and help families that are in distress,” he said.
In NSW, around 10 percent of Indigenous children are living in state care. Comparatively, less than 2 percent of non-indigenous children are wards of the state.
In a Guardian article penned in March, journalist John Pilger warned that the extent of Indigenous child removals has reached “scandalous” proportions, evoking the “infamous stolen generation of the last century.”
“Up to the 1970s, thousands of mixed-race children were stolen from their mothers by welfare officials. The children were given to institutions as cheap or slave labor; many were abused … (today) assimilation remains Australian government policy in all but name,” he wrote.
The disproportionately high number of Indigenous children being removed from their parents has prompted some Indigenous rights advocates to urge both the federal and state governments to rethink how they interact with Indigenous communities.
Earlier in the week, the Indigenous group Grandmothers Against Removal urged NSW’s FACS to consult communities before carrying out removals.
FACS has announced it will appoint a community liaison to the Hunter-New England District after a string of allegations of rough removals, but according to ABC Shoebridge wants a state-wide solution.
“The hope is we see success there and it’ll be rolled out in places especially in towns like Dubbo,” he stated.