Moree grandmothers at G20

​A CONVOY from Moree will make the drive to Brisbane next week to bring attention to what they describe as an “ongoing Stolen Generation”.

Indigenous groups from around the country will converge on the Queensland capital in the midst of the G20 Summit to protest an “accelerating trend” of forced removals of children from their families.

“There’s going to be a protest about all the injustice the Aboriginal community faces, not just the removal of children by community services,” said Debra Swan, a member of Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR).

Aunty Debbie worked for the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) in Tamworth, Boggabilla and finally her home town of Moree but quit because of what she described as a lack of consultation with the indigenous community.

“The main thing was in relation to Aboriginal placement principle where Aboriginal families were not consulted and family meetings were not held or, if they were, it was very irregularly,” she said. “We’re not saying that some children don’t need to be removed, because unfortunately there are some parents who do abuse children. What we are saying is that they have a lot of relatives who can look after the kids if [FACS] was willing to consult more and find out who the extended family members are.”

A FACS NSW spokesperson said the organisation had a responsibility to protect children and only removed “a child or young person as a last resort when there are serious concerns for their safety or wellbeing”.

“[FACS] makes every effort to place them in culturally appropriate placements,” the spokesperson said, citing the 2014 government report which found that “81.7 per cent of indigenous children and young people in out-of-home care were placed with an indigenous caregiver, well above the national average of 68.8 per cent”.

Former FACS worker Debra Swan quit the deparment because of policies regarding the removal of indigenous children from their families.
Former FACS worker Debra Swan quit the deparment because of policies regarding the removal of indigenous children from their families.

But GMAR campaigner and spokesperson Olivia Nigro said her organisation had documented countless cases where the family “didn’t have any idea of what was coming until they get a knock on the door from the police who have come to take their children”.

“The ‘Bringing Them Home’ report in 1997 documented 2785 cases of Aboriginal children living in ‘out-of-home-care’ and over the last 17 years there has DOCS rally - BASE in Brisbanebeen a five-fold increase to 13,914, so this is an entrenched and long-term crisis which has only been accelerating over the last decade,” Ms Nigro said. “A new stolen generation is a reality, it’s not coming, it’s not a risk for the future, it’s happening now.”

By Joseph Hinchliffe of the Moree Champion
Nov. 6, 2014, 8:50 a.m.

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