Grandmothers Against Removals NSW (GMAR) and Amnesty Action Group Newtown will co-host a public forum in Sydney at 6.30pm tonight to highlight the national crisis of ongoing Stolen Generations and condemn the role of police in the forced removals of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (TSI) children.
The forum, titled ‘Still Stolen’, will feature key GMAR members Aunty Hazel, (GMAR founder), Aunty Debra Swan (former FACS caseworker) and Uncle Albert Hartnett (affected family member) alongside Gemma Unwin (Secretariat National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care) and Kyol Blakeney (State Indigenous Officer, National Union of Students).
“We have called this event with Amnesty as part of a rapidly growing grass-roots movement demanding the return of our stolen children and Aboriginal community control of Aboriginal child protection”, said Aunty Hazel, founding member of GMAR.
Indigenous children are being forcibly removed from their families’ nation-wide in higher numbers than at any previous time in Australia’s history. Almost 14,000 Aboriginal and TSI children are currently in out-of-home care – this is 10 times the rate of non-Indigenous children.
Led by Secretariat National Aboriginal Islander Child Care (SNAICC), ‘Family Matters Kids safe in culture not in care’ aims to address this over-representation.
“This is an alarming and totally unacceptable situation. We need to take urgent action and consider different approaches — based on greater Aboriginal and TSI participation — to arrest this worrying escalation in numbers and ensure the best outcomes for our children and families ”, said SNAICC and Family Matters Chair Sharon Williams.
Aunty Hazel continued, “Australia and the world have seen clear evidence of ongoing Stolen Generations this week with ‘The Moree Atrocity’. Footage was aired on NITV News last Friday showing police in riot gear stealing eight Aboriginal children from their family home in a dawn raid. The irreversible trauma created for the children and family is criminal. We support their demands for an apology and an explanation from NSW FACS Minister Gabrielle Upton”.
GMAR are calling for a moratorium on the use of police in forced Aboriginal and TSI child removal alongside the implementation of Aboriginal community expert committees to ensure decision-making power for Aboriginal and TSI families in the care and protection of their children.
“We are still burdened with a system that is not meeting the needs of our vulnerable children and families, is not doing enough to keep families together, nor enough to keep children in care connected with their family and culture. We need to rethink the whole approach, so that we provide more support to strengthen the capacity of families to care safely for children”, Ms Williams said.
“This movement to stop another Stolen Generation has become national with protest groups in NSW, WA, NT and QU. History has made clear the need to fight to keep our families together and we will not stop until our children are home and decision-making for their care and protection is handed back to Aboriginal and TSI people. Child protection agencies must be held accountable for their ongoing crimes”, concluded Aunty Hazel.
AUNTY HAZEL | GMAR – OLIVIA NIGRO | 0401 955 405
SHARON WILLIAMS | SNAICC | 0408 494 280
PUBLIC FORUM | STILL STOLEN
The campaign to stop another generation of forced Aboriginal child removal
6.30PM THURSDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER
YAAMA DHIYAAN – 255 WILSON STREET, DARLINGTON
Aunty Hazel – Grandmothers Against Removals NSW
Uncle Albert Hartnett – National Aboriginal Strategic Alliance to Bring the Children Home
Gemma Unwin – Manager of ‘Family Matters: Kids in Culture Not in Care’ Campaign; Secretariat National Aboriginal Islander Child Care
Kyol Blakeney – President Wirriga Society USYD & State Indigenous Officer National Union of Students
Chaired by Aunty Deb Swan, former FACS caseworker & Ken Welsh, Amnesty International Australia
For more info see: http://stopstolengenerations.com.au/