A national conference to stop continuing stolen generations of Aboriginal children was held at the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy on July 10-11.
Delegates came from all corners of Australia, many brought into the struggle by the recent formation of Grandmothers Against Removals in Gunnedah and similar groups across the country.
On May 26, National Sorry Day, our network released a statement describing the acute crisis that exists with continuing stolen generations. We condemned the brutality of these removals, the secretive “child protection” system which denies us natural justice and the failure of governments to implement the recommendations of the Bringing Them Home Report, and many other reports and enquiries, which asserts the need for self-determination when it comes to the welfare of our children.
The conference heard many stories of tragedy and pain including the reminders of the transgenerational trauma still embedded in our communities. But most significantly, there are many stories of success in our struggle. When families have stood up and fought back, demanding their children, they have successfully won them back.
The issue of the contemporary theft of Aboriginal children has been pushed into the spotlight, with articles highlighting our struggle published by news outlets across the world.
We have received support from significant allies – including within the judiciary and from progressive child protection workers, such as unionised workers in NSW who passed a motion of solidarity at their Public Service Association conference.
We are calling now on all Aboriginal organisations and all workers and institutions involved with the wellbeing of Aboriginal children to take a side in this struggle – will you support mass removal of Aboriginal children continuing? Or will you work with us to demand children are kept safe within their family and culture.
Our children are being removed out of hospitals – will the nurses, doctors and hospital administrators allow this to continue?
Children are being removed out of schools – will teachers sit by and continue to co-operate?
Parents are being told by the Aboriginal Legal Services that they can not fight, that they would be best co-operating with the department following removals – who will stand up and help us assert our legal rights?
With many of these removals there is the active involvement of police who are forcibly taking our children from their homes and this instills ongoing fear of police in our communities who are failing in their obligation to protect and serve our people.
In many cases, even our own Aboriginal medical services and Aboriginal child welfare organisations are complicit in making reports to ‘welfare’ and encouraging removal, rather than working with families and seeking solutions to problems which do not involve this brutality. This can not be allowed to continue. These organisations must be accountable.
We have a national organisation SNAICC, who have a campaign ‘Kids in Culture – Not in Care’ that is so badly needed. We want to see them take a stand on the streets alongside us. This is not something that can be solved by polite meetings behind closed doors. We need to name the problem for what it is – a racist travesty that requires a hard fight to win justice.
We are going to continue to ramp up our mobilisation. When the G20 comes to Brisbane in November, we will be rallying to alert the world to the continuing stolen generations in Australia. On February 13 next year, 7 years since Kevin Rudd’s “apology”, we will lead a national protest in Canberra demanding an end to continuing stolen generation and continuing impoverishment of Aboriginal people.
Join us and take a stand. We can win the children back – but the silence and collusion must end!