Don’t take your children to Vegemite Town

Photo by Brendon Qu
Told us what to do and say
Told us all the white man's ways
Then they split us up again
And gave us gifts to ease the pain
Sent us off to foster homes
As we grew up we felt alone
Cause we were acting white
Yet feeling black
— Archie Roach,
Took the children away

The music industry says it is the home of country music.

A big guitar sits in the regional council building.

It has a bicentennial park celebrating colonialism from 1788 till 1988. Tex Morton’s statue sits at the fringe just over from the duck pond.

Rednecks call it Vegemite Town. We call it Gomeroi country.

It is here that we gathered, from all points east and west — people from as far away as Bundaberg, Brisbane, central coast of NSW, Gunnedah, Moree, Sydney, and Wagga Wagga.

And so we marched with our banner proclaiming Bring the Children Home on DOCS at 14-16 Bourke street Tamworth. At first we were only 15 strong, grandmothers, daughters, aunties and uncles. But others soon swelled our ranks especially after the bus from Sydney arrived with Uncle Ray Jackson and the film crew. We would have been larger had not the coppers raided people in Moree and taken their children from houses and brazenly pounced on our children in the main street. The focus of Uncle Charlie Perkins’ freedom ride in the 1960s become a fearful place.

Our rally ensued – it was a quiet affair with people huddling around the speakers because the portable PA didn’t work. A registered nurse who spoke said she didn’t want to get arrested.

Afterwards we went back to Mara Mara Community hall in Tamworth to have lunch and to speak with DOCS management, Jeff Mills and Leigh Smith about the children who had been stolen.

Jeff Mills, originally from Housing NSW, is now the New England regional manager of  NSW Family & Community Services [yet another acronym — FACS — there are no facts at FACS.

With him was Leigh (sp??) Smith who is the local Tamworth manager of FACS since last November (2013).

Watch the YouTube  video and PShift  for some of the many stories we heard at the forum.

We gave DOCS management 20 days to restore the children to their families (it should have been seven days).

The Department of Criminal Stealers [FACS in NSW] managers, Jeff Miller and Leigh Smith, probably committed a technical breach of Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 [NSW] by turning up at the meeting at Mara Mara, Tamworth, without any indigenous ‘recognised entity’ present. But who will police the criminal stealers? Pru Goward? I think not, she is too busy pushing legislation through parliament to take six-month-old babies away for the long-term.

Took the Children Away sung by Troy Cassar-Daley, Archie Roach, Warren H. Williams and Shane Howard at Clancestry 2014. Why can’t we hear Archie and these legends of aboriginal, rock and country music singing this song in vegemite town?

Ian Curr
12 April 2014

Further information
Under the Child Protection Act 1999 [Qld], section 6, the department is required to work with a recognised entity when making all decisions about an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child. In accordance with the Child Protection Act 1999, section 6(1) and (2), the department is required to either:

provide the recognised entity with an opportunity to participate in the decision-making, where the decision is significant
consult with the recognised entity on all other decisions.

A recognised entity may be an individual or organisation that is appropriate to be consulted about the child’s protection and care under an agreement between the department and the entity. If the entity is an individual, he or she must:

be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person
have appropriate knowledge of or expertise in child protection
not be an officer or employee of the department.

Section 90 Rescission and variation of care orders in Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998

2 thoughts on “Don’t take your children to Vegemite Town

  1. 'Bring the Children Home' Rally Tamworth, NSW says:


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