Grandmothers Against Removals National Committee and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy released this statement at a rally in Canberra on the anniversary of the National Apology on February 13.
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Today we march in protest against the unprecedented theft of Aboriginal children from their families by so-called “Child Protection” agencies across Australia.
We are in urgent need of protection from the criminal actions of these departments, who persecute Aboriginal families and mobilise police to terrorise children with forced removals. More Aboriginal children are forcibly separated from their families at this moment than at any time in history.
We march in solidarity with the many Aboriginal families who suffer the fresh pain of forced removal every day. We march in solidarity with the black children who run away in fear from foster care placements and institutions every night.
We march to mark seven years since then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made an “apology” to the Stolen Generations of the 20th century, an apology loaded with the worst hypocrisy, given the crescendo of forced child removals that took place under the watch of his government.
There are currently more than 15,000 Aboriginal children in so-called “out of home care”. The majority of these removals are for alleged “neglect” — the exact rationale provided for tens of thousands of 20th century removals. It is a term used to denigrate Aboriginal culture and the love and care provided by Aboriginal families and communities. It is a term that masks the systematic neglect of governments that enforce conditions of extreme poverty and social trauma on our communities. It is a term used to justify a continuing project of forced assimilation.
We march to demand recognition of the continuing sovereignty of our nations and our fundamental right to determine our own future — we have been camping with the National Freedom Movement at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy for the last three weeks and support their manifesto.
We demand Aboriginal control of Aboriginal child welfare and a massive transfer of resources into Aboriginal hands to deal with unacceptable social conditions. We demand an end to the removals and a moratorium on the use of police armed with guns, batons and pepper spray to take children.
We demand a national restoration program to bring our children home. We have met with Nigel Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, who promised to work with us on this restoration program and an independent system that can monitor abuse from “Child Protection” — we will hold him to these promises and need to see immediate action in this regard.
There must be an end to the “mandatory reporting” system which creates a culture of fear and distrust with the schools, health and social services in our communities due to an avalanche of reports from workers making racist assumptions about our families. Disgracefully, many of our own Aboriginal organisations are tied up in this reporting regime, enforced by funding agreements and draconian legislation.
We demand the full domestic implementation of the 1948 Genocide Convention into Australian law by repealing section 268.121 and 268.122 of the International Criminal Court (Consequential Amendments) Act 2002, in order to enable a challenge to the destruction of our religion, culture, bloodlines and communities by forced child removal and creating conditions of life set to destroy the group in whole or in part.
We appeal to all workers and organisations that have any contact with “Child Protection” to come out in support of our struggle. Our children are being taken out of schools, hospitals, playgrounds and homes across Australia. You MUST refuse to cooperate with this mass kidnapping of our children. You can help rebuild the community-controlled organisations that are needed to deal with any problems in our communities.
We call for international solidarity actions against the ongoing colonial oppression of Aboriginal people in Australia, as people fought Apartheid in South Africa — boycotts, sanctions and divestment. The Australian government commits troops to so-called “peacekeeping” missions overseas, but we need an international volunteer force on the ground here to protect us from the ongoing war on our communities.
Our next day of action will be “National Sorry Day”, on May 26. We will mobilise again on Universal Children’s Day in October. We need people to join us in protests in your thousands. Workers from Aboriginal and child welfare organisations should stop work and show their solidarity with our struggle.
We will continue with our struggle until all of our babies are home.