Tearful grandmothers have rallied outside NSW Parliament on the anniversary of the stolen generation apology, with warnings the mistakes of the past are being repeated.
On Thursday, six years after then-prime minister Kevin Rudd stood in parliament to formally say sorry for the pain inflicted on thousands of indigenous people taken from their families, activists gathered on Sydney’s Macquarie Street with claims little had changed.
“Sorry means you don’t do it again,” read signs posted outside parliament and draped across an empty stroller.
Aunty Hazel, from Gunnedah in northern NSW, said she had watched four of her grandchildren being taken into state care.
“Our babies are being ripped out of our arms,” she told the small crowd.
“They’re being isolated and alienated from us, their families. We are unable to pass down our culture, our heritage.”
NSW Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward agreed there were too many NSW Aboriginal children in out-of-home care and that their ranks continued to swell.
But she said the rate of removal has slowed from pre-apology levels.
Ms Goward said caseworkers only acted to remove a child if their home life was desperate.
“You can’t leave children when they’re at risk of being murdered, or starving to death,” she told AAP.
“I would like to think that these grandmothers want to work with us, want themselves to ensure that these children are kept safe.”
Asked to respond to protesters’ claims that some children were being taken away with no early intervention or prior warnings from authorities, Ms Goward said such cases were rare.