Grandmothers Against Removals released this statement on January 28.
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Activists from the national movement Grandmothers Against Removals joined the Aboriginal protest convergence in Canberra over the Invasion Day long weekend, including the march on Parliament House.
Many of the Aboriginal families attending the convergence were suffering from the impact of the continuing forced removal of children by welfare agencies across the country. More than 14,000 Aboriginal children are now in “out of home care”, more than at any time in Australia's history, including at the height of the Stolen Generations of the 20th century.
Several of the grandmothers remain camped at the Aboriginal tent embassy and have vowed to maintain their protest camp until a big demonstration in Canberra planned for February 13, the anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations.
While at the camp, they will continue their work of providing support and case advocacy for families struggling to have their children returned, along with making preparations for the upcoming demonstration.
The grandmothers are calling on supporters to join them at the embassy, to help with preparations for February 13.
Karen Fusi from the Brisbane Sovereign Grannies is camped at the embassy. She fought a successful case in the Federal Court for the return of her grandchildren from Queensland Child Safety and has been central in initiating the national movement.
She said: “If you can get to Canberra now, or any time before February 13, we really need your support. We have a solid camp here, we need to continue the important national discussion about the fight to stop the ongoing theft of our children and the day-to-day struggle for affected families. We need assistance to prepare for the February 13 protest.
The child removal crisis is central to so much of the pain in our communities, many of our people are taking their own lives because they feel they cannot fight the system any more. We are here to say we can fight and we will win, our babies must come home.”
Vanessa Culbong has fought for the return of many children and is the founding member of Grandmothers Against Removals WA. She travelled 4000km from Perth to Canberra by bus with the Nyoongar Tent Embassy.
She said: “It’s time for our people to move on this issue and move fast. As they continue to take our babies, our culture is being destroyed. The Apology on February 13, 2008 means nothing to us while they continue to steal our children, more than at any time in our history.
"We have inherent sovereign rights in our children as Aboriginal families. Our children also have the right to be with their family and culture under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
"Our families will assert these rights on the streets on February 13 and march on the Commonwealth Parliament demanding an end to continuing Stolen Generations. We need you to join us."
[The group has asked for donations for the February 13 demonstration. Donations can be made to: Grandmothers Against Removals, Bendigo Bank, BSB 633-000, Account number 153568613.]