GREENS member for parliament, David Shoebridge teamed up with Grandmothers Against Removals NSW to host a speaking and listening discussion in Moree regarding ongoing stolen generations.
Mr Shoebridge said as part of his portfolio as a Greens MP, justice played a big role.
“If ever there was a glare in justice, it’s what’s happening to Aboriginal communities,” he said.
The event invited local residents to speak and listen to people’s first-hand experience with the historic stolen generation and the one that continues today.
“NSW has the highest rates of children being removed from their families, and it is substantially higher than places such as NT,” Mr Shoebridge said.
He said in 1998 the ‘bringing them home’ report was publicly addressed and the stolen generation was recognised.
“This followed with a public apology by the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, in 2008 but the rate of children being taken away from their families has increased since the report 16 years ago,” he said.
These open discussions have been held throughout Aboriginal communities since February.
“A similar model was carried out in Gunnedah and from the event there was a proposal put to the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) to put Aboriginal liaison officers in communities to prevent removals,” Mr Shoebridge said.
He said something was “obviously failing” in the process and would like to see greater structure put in place to include Elders of the community to help where the child is placed.
“My focus is on fixing the problem. We need to work together with the community to reduce these numbers by working with the families to improve the situation and keep the children from being removed from their families and culture,” he said.
Grandmothers Against Removals NSW’s Aunt Hazel said she herself as a grandmother had grandchildren in care.
“It is important people are able to tell their stories mothers, grandmothers and aunties because when a child is removed it doesn’t just affect the parents,” she said.
Aunt Hazel said since the discussions started, there had been a number of families speak out about their hardships of having their children taken.
“We are not saying that no child should be taken away because we understand that in some cases it is necessary to take them away from the mothers and fathers, but there are aunties, uncles and grandparents who would take them. Work with us to get the best outcome for the child, because it affects them the most,” she said.
Auntie Hazel said the most rewarding thing to come out of the discussions was the empowerment that individuals felt once they knew others were telling their story.
“The system failed back then and it’s failing now. We need to get on top of this stolen generation before we have a lost generation. These kids won’t know who they are, where they came from or what their culture is, and that’s worrying,” Aunt Hazel said.
The Moree Champion will catch-up with Mr Shoebridge to find out the result of the meeting in the coming weeks.
You can visit www.stopstolengenerations.com.au to find out more.