Grandmothers groups condemn child removal at gunpoint

Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR NSW) condemn the forced removal of multiple Aboriginal children from one family at gunpoint earlier this year as highlighted on NITV news last night.

The footage of NSW police in riot gear barging into a household at 6am to remove children was released during National Child Protection Week and has caused outrage across the country.

NITV reported, “The parents, who were asleep when the raid began, have told NITV News they awoke to find guns pointed at them and that they were then handcuffed by police as the children were forcibly removed in front of them”.

These revelations became public following a forum held by GMAR and NSW MP David Shoebridge in Moree last week as part of a recent engagement tour which also saw emotional meetings in Dubbo and Gunnedah. These meetings were well attended by Aboriginal families suffering from continuing Stolen Generations.

More Aboriginal children are currently being removed than at any time in Australia’s history, with over 14,000 now in “out of home care”. One in ten Aboriginal children in NSW is in the foster-care system.

While this raid with guns drawn is particularly shocking, the reality is that police are routinely used across Australia by Child Protection staff to forcibly remove Aboriginal children.

At a recent conference of our national network, the National Aboriginal Strategic Alliance to Bring the Children Home (NASA), a member from Alice Springs spoke about a baby being ripped from her mothers arms while pepper spray was pointed in her face. Sheila Oakley from Brisbane was recently blinded in one eye by police using a taser when they accompanied “Child Protection” to her house.

It is currently “National Child Protection Week”, sponsored by the Commonwealth government, seeking to raise awareness about child abuse and ensure it is reported to the authorities. But, as demonstrated by these raids, the police force and Child Protection departments are responsible for some of the worst trauma perpetrated on Aboriginal children.

This use of police is just one reflection of the brutality that underlies the crisis of mass child removal gripping Aboriginal communities.

Child protection departments continue to harbor racist attitudes and unjustly target Aboriginal families. Aboriginal children are increasingly removed from hospitals within hours of birth. The legal system continues to deny representation and any meaningful access to justice to Aboriginal parents suffering from child removal. Aboriginal children continue to be placed with non-Indigenous people, far away from their families, cut off from their culture and language. The NSW and Commonwealth governments are currently cutting services that provide assistance to families in crises and guard against removal, such as Aboriginal controlled women’s shelters and Legal Aid services.

But our network is growing in strength, successfully fighting for the return of many children. New GMAR groups are forming in Dubbo and Moree and are planning protest action. In Gunnedah, we have pushed FACS into negotiations about establishing an Aboriginal Community Expert Committee, accountable to the community, which could play a central role in decision making about Aboriginal child welfare.

We demand a complete moratorium on the use of police by Child Protection authorities.

We need Aboriginal control over all decisions affecting Aboriginal children and an urgent injection of resources into our communities to support families in crisis.

NASA has called a national mobilization outside Federal Parliament House on the anniversary of the National Apology on February 13 2015.

We will not accept the brutality of continuing Stolen Generations and will continue in our fight to stop removals.

FOR MEDIA COMMENT

AUNTY HAZEL (FOUNDING MEMBER OF GMAR NSW)

CONTACT: OLIVIA NIGRO 0401 955 405

http://stopstolengenerations.com.au

One thought on “Grandmothers groups condemn child removal at gunpoint

  1. Public Forum says:

    Grandmothers groups condemn police’s role in ongoing Stolen Generations at public forum in Sydney tonight

    Grandmothers Against Removals NSW (GMAR) and Amnesty Action Group Newtown will co-host a public forum in Sydney at 6.30pm tonight to highlight the national crisis of ongoing Stolen Generations and condemn the role of police in the forced removals of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (TSI) children.

    The forum, titled ‘Still Stolen’, will feature key GMAR members Aunty Hazel, (GMAR founder), Aunty Debra Swan (former FACS caseworker) and Uncle Albert Hartnett (affected family member) alongside Gemma Unwin (Secretariat National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care) and Kyol Blakeney (State Indigenous Officer, National Union of Students).

    “We have called this event with Amnesty as part of a rapidly growing grass-roots movement demanding the return of our stolen children and Aboriginal community control of Aboriginal child protection”, said Aunty Hazel, founding member of GMAR.

    Indigenous children are being forcibly removed from their families’ nation-wide in higher numbers than at any previous time in Australia’s history. Almost 14,000 Aboriginal and TSI children are currently in out-of-home care – this is 10 times the rate of non-Indigenous children.

    Led by Secretariat National Aboriginal Islander Child Care (SNAICC), ‘Family Matters Kids safe in culture not in care’ aims to address this over-representation.

    “This is an alarming and totally unacceptable situation. We need to take urgent action and consider different approaches — based on greater Aboriginal and TSI participation — to arrest this worrying escalation in numbers and ensure the best outcomes for our children and families ”, said SNAICC and Family Matters Chair Sharon Williams.

    Aunty Hazel continued, “Australia and the world have seen clear evidence of ongoing Stolen Generations this week with ‘The Moree Atrocity’. Footage was aired on NITV News last Friday showing police in riot gear stealing eight Aboriginal children from their family home in a dawn raid. The irreversible trauma created for the children and family is criminal. We support their demands for an apology and an explanation from NSW FACS Minister Gabrielle Upton”.

    GMAR are calling for a moratorium on the use of police in forced Aboriginal and TSI child removal alongside the implementation of Aboriginal community expert committees to ensure decision-making power for Aboriginal and TSI families in the care and protection of their children.

    “We are still burdened with a system that is not meeting the needs of our vulnerable children and families, is not doing enough to keep families together, nor enough to keep children in care connected with their family and culture. We need to rethink the whole approach, so that we provide more support to strengthen the capacity of families to care safely for children”, Ms Williams said.

    “This movement to stop another Stolen Generation has become national with protest groups in NSW, WA, NT and QU. History has made clear the need to fight to keep our families together and we will not stop until our children are home and decision-making for their care and protection is handed back to Aboriginal and TSI people. Child protection agencies must be held accountable for their ongoing crimes”, concluded Aunty Hazel.

    MEDIA CONTACT:
    AUNTY HAZEL | GMAR – OLIVIA NIGRO | 0401 955 405
    SHARON WILLIAMS | SNAICC | 0408 494 280

    EVENT DETAILS:
    PUBLIC FORUM | STILL STOLEN

    The campaign to stop another generation of forced Aboriginal child removal

    6.30PM THURSDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER

    YAAMA DHIYAAN – 255 WILSON STREET, DARLINGTON
    Featuring:
    Aunty Hazel – Grandmothers Against Removals NSW
    Uncle Albert Hartnett – National Aboriginal Strategic Alliance to Bring the Children Home
    Gemma Unwin – Manager of ‘Family Matters: Kids in Culture Not in Care’ Campaign; Secretariat National Aboriginal Islander Child Care
    Kyol Blakeney – President Wirriga Society USYD & State Indigenous Officer National Union of Students
    Chaired by Aunty Deb Swan, former FACS caseworker & Ken Welsh, Amnesty International Australia

    Facebook event: Still Stolen
    RSVP through Eventbrite: Still Stolen
    For more info see: http://stopstolengenerations.com.au/

What do you think about this article?