Removing Aboriginal children from their families has failed

Nothing can change if we punish parents after they have reached breaking point. We need early intervention and family support

According to koodakpress، Almost a month has passed since the now infamous Sunrise segment where an all-white panel claimed there is a “conspiracy of silence” around the abuse of Aboriginal children.

Despite incessant media attention on Aboriginal child safety in the time since, this baseless claim continues to be repeated. It begs the question: what have these people been listening to? Have we not been having the same conversation?

Whether it’s a national article sledging a tiny outback town, or a federal parliamentarian criticising a major event for being “too Aboriginal”, we’re used to defending ourselves against insults in the public arena.

But the past month has taken a toll. To be accused of not just allowing, but enabling the abuse of our own children is on a whole other level. To care for our children is one of the most fundamental human instincts. To suggest that Aboriginal people as a whole are somehow immune to that instinct is to deny our humanity.

And it’s to deny the life’s work of dozens of Aboriginal people who advocate tirelessly to improve the child protection system for our kids. There’s AbSec, the organisation I lead in New South Wales, which provides an Aboriginal perspective on policy in the NSW child protection and out-of-home care system. Nationally there’s SNAICC, the organisational voice for Aboriginal children and young people; and in Queensland there’s QATSICPP. And who can accuse the determined women of Grandmothers Against Removals of perpetuating a so-called conspiracy of silence?

We are all talking, and we have been for years. Our people talked to the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families in the 1990s, opening raw wounds to speak of their own experiences of being torn from their families, in the hope it might prevent such a horror from ever occurring again.

That led to the Bringing Them Home report in 1997, which made 54 recommendations to promote healing and prevent the repetition of further stolen generations. This was to be achieved through putting Aboriginal people in the lead, resourcing us to design our own approaches to the wellbeing of our children and young people. It’s something we’re still arguing for, 20 years later.

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