The New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services has agreed to work with Aboriginal elders to curb the rising number of Aboriginal children who are forcibly removed from their families.
A working group will look at how the Government and communities can provide alternatives to taking children from their homes if concerns have been raised about their welfare.
The group, Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR), said there had been an unprecedented increase in the number of Aboriginal children who are taken from their families.
A spokeswoman for the group, who only gave her first name Sue-Ellen, said they are determined to stop what they say is becoming a crisis.
“We were facing a continuation of the stolen generation so the idea of this group is to get together, to get active participation of Aboriginal families and communities in the decision-making process,” she said.
“While these unprecedented removals are happening it’s very important that this group comes together and work effectively so that we can address this crisis.
We want Aboriginal kids to stay within their Aboriginal families and within their Aboriginal communities because that’s what these children know.Sue-Ellen, Grandmothers Against Removals
Deidre Mulkerin from the Department of Family and Community Services said she believes working with the Aboriginal community will allow for early intervention.
“People in the local community are much closer to what is actually going on in their community,” she said.
“So we are hoping by working in a much closer way that they will be able to point out other support that might be available to families and the communities.
“I wanted to particularly acknowledge the courage and persistence of the grandmothers who’ve stood up for their community and their children and asked government, demanded of government that we work with their community differently.”
The group is due to meet next month and it is hoped a formal committee will be established early next year.
“They need to come to the table and work with this group because if this group comes together, works effectively with all those concerned and stakeholders removals will reduce and we want to reduce those considerably,” Sue-Ellen said.
“We want Aboriginal kids to stay within their Aboriginal families and within their Aboriginal communities because that’s what these children know.”
Greens MP David Shoebridge, who helped GMAR broker the agreement, said it is significant progress.
“What we see here is an acknowledgement from the department that there are too many Aboriginal children being removed and an acknowledgement that they need to have novel and new ways of addressing that,” he said.
“A structured engagement with the grandmothers is definitely part of engaging with the community and addressing this crisis of Aboriginal child removal in New South Wales.”