Fifty people marched from Hyde Park to New South Wales Parliament on February 12 in protest at policies which make it legal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to be stolen from their families.
Grandmothers Against Removal (GMAR) and Nelly’s Healing Centre want the state and federal governments to intervene to bring two Wiradjuri children, taken to Britain earlier this year by their carers, home to their mother.
Gomeroi elder and GMAR spokesperson Aunty Hazel Collins said the two people are no longer in contact with the department. The “system is based on genocide”, she said, adding that this is not an isolated case.
“[Former Prime Minister] Kevin Rudd said ‘Sorry’, but where is Kevin Rudd now?”
Wiradjuri Aunty Deborah Bell said that of her eight grandchildren, three are now under the care of the Department of Community and Justice and that they were taken by NSW Police from their school.
“The caseworkers demanded [we] have to do this and that and then they take [our] kids away. They say it is because of drugs and domestic violence. But is it OK for your kids to live with domestic violence and drugs of the carers?”
Nelly’s Healing Centre founder Helen Eason said the minister in charge, Gareth Ward, must reverse the decision and bring the two Wiradjuri children home.
“What has [former minister] Pru Goward done? This is not a new stolen generation; this is a continuation of a policy of genocide,” she said.
April Shepherd, a program manager at Mudgin-gal which is helping mums fighting to take back care of their babies told Green Left, there many people are fighting to take back care of their babies. Shepherd said the government is defending a policy more commonly known as child trafficking.
Auntie Hazel said: “We have one of the largest rates of Indigenous child removal in any first world country. Indigenous people are the oldest living culture in the world, so we have answers to a lot of questions. But instead they’re stealing our kids. The government are the criminals and we are the ones suffering.”
Wiradjuri elder Aunty Jenny Munro was there to lend her support, as was Greens MLC David Shoebridge.
[To find out more about the campaign visit Bring our babies home.]