Stop the forced removal of Aboriginal children, say grandmothers

August 2, 2016

Grandmothers Against Removals NSW released this statement for Aboriginal Children's Day on August 4.

In Sydney, GAMAR has organised a protest at 12pm at the Family Law Courts, 99 Goulburn Street which will then march to NSW Parliament House.

Grandmothers Against Removals is a network of families and supporters directly affected by forced child removal.

We are protesting on Aboriginal Children's Day against the continuing colonial violence inflicted on black children by “child protection” services, police and juvenile prisons across Australia.

We have been sickened by the images on our television screens of children in Northern Territory detention centres being tortured. We send love and solidarity to all families who have endured this abuse and similar abuses across the country.

It must not be forgotten that many children locked in these centres have been forcibly removed from their families by the so-called “child protection” system only to have their young lives further shattered in prison.

They are in “the care of the Minister” — and in the NT that is torture apologist and Minister for Children and Families John Elferink.

Under the racist NT Intervention, the number of Aboriginal children in “out-of-home care” has increased from approximately 250 to more than 1000 children.

What is taking place in these centres is symptomatic of the racist, institutionalised child abuse across this continent inflicted by systems of forced removal from family, community and country.

We see this abuse every day, when children are pushed screaming into cars at the end of a “family visit”, when newborn babies are snatched from their mothers arms in hospital, when primary school aged children running away from foster care wind up in the isolation cells of a detention centre.

The politicians responsible for the abuse in Don Dale pretend they didn't know.

Federal Minister Nigel Scullion said abuse allegations “did not sufficiently pique my interest”. This is reminiscent of Cardinal George Pell's statements in response to allegations of systematic sexual abuse of children by the Catholic Church.

All the politicians knew — and know — about this abuse and more. We have communicated countless stories of police violently removing children and their abuse in foster care directly to both state ministers and Minister Scullion. Scullion met with the Grandmothers in February 2015 and promised more meetings and urgent action. We have heard nothing since.

Next year, will mark 20 years since the Bringing Them Home report, released in 1997: this report exposed a genocide, the Stolen Generations of the 20th Century. But it also said that contemporary separations of Indigenous children from their families into foster care and child prisons was recreating similar dynamics today.

Two decades later, the number of children being forcibly removed has increased more than 500%. Far more Aboriginal children are being taken today than in the 20th Century. The proportion of children being placed back with their Aboriginal family is steadily declining. Aboriginal children are now 28 times more likely to be in prison than non-Aboriginal children.

Many in our communities are suffering homelessness, crippling poverty, drug and alcohol and family violence problems, all things which create real risks for children.

These are not just Aboriginal issues, but because of the destruction of colonisation we are particularly affected. The closure of communities, attacks on Aboriginal services and denial of resources to our people to deal with these problems is a heinous act of neglect by one of the most wealthy governments in the world, rich from stolen land.

Bringing them Home was clear about the solution to the problem of contemporary removal of Indigenous children — Aboriginal control of Aboriginal child welfare and youth justice. Close down the child prisons. End the control mainstream welfare agencies have over Aboriginal families. Invest serious resources into community controlled support services, infrastructure and positive opportunities to deal with family crises.

We want to join with others organising protests to push for these demands to be met through the Royal Commission process.

We are very inspired by the huge outpouring of outrage and solidarity in the wake of the ABC's Four Corners report, but we have no faith in Royal Commissions or inquiries. There is no justice — just us.

The only thing that will stop the abuse and bring the children home is our capacity to organise and fight for justice and self determination.

Stop the forced removal of Aboriginal children into foster care and child prisons.
Justice for the victims of Don Dale and similar institutions across the country.
Bring the children home — self-determination now!

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