Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) Sydney and supporters protested outside the offices of the NSW Department of Families and Community Services in Strawberry Hills on January 29 to demand the immediate return of Aboriginal children forcibly removed from a Queensland family and placed in out-of-home care in Sydney.
Kukulangi Grandmother Aunty Karen Fusi from the Brisbane Sovereign Grannies Group addressed the crowd of around 60 about the case. Other speakers included Aunty Jenny Munro, Aunty Val Colbung from WA, Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge and STICS activist Paddy Gibson.
The recently formed GMAR Sydney group targetted this FACS office for its ongoing role in the forced removals of Aboriginal children from their families. These removals and placements of children in out-of-home care often breach policies, occur in the absence of support or engagement with families and without restoration plans.
Abrupt "stealth" removals have become standard practice, creating intense trauma and dislocation for the children, families and community at large. Currently, there are more than 15,000 Aboriginal children in out-of-home care on any given night. This is more children than were forcibly removed than at any time in Australian history.
More than half these children have not been placed back with their Aboriginal family, despite the "Aboriginal placement principle" being mandated in every state and territory.
There has also been a national push against changes to legislation that are seeing many more children removed until they are 18, with new "permanent guardianship laws" either planned or in place across Australia.
The January 29 protest forms part of a national movement against the ongoing Stolen Generations, and is calling for a national restoration program to return Stolen Children to their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
GMAR has called a national protest on Thursday February 11 outside Federal Parliament House, Canberra, to mark the anniversary of the Stolen Generation Apology.