26 May 2020
Today marks 23 years since the Bringing Them Home Report was handed down, highlighting the systematic forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families. As we mark National Sorry Day and reflect on the magnitude of injustices faced by the Stolen Generations, the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited (‘ALS’) is calling for urgent reform of the NSW out-of-home care system.
ALS CEO Karly Warner said, “Today we pay our respects to Stolen Generations and acknowledge the pain and trauma that continues in our communities. We know that our children thrive when they are connected with culture, identity and community. And yet today, governments continue to separate Aboriginal children from their families, communities and culture at vastly disproportionate rates”.
Aboriginal children in NSW are currently 11 times more likely to be removed from their families than non-Aboriginal children. And we know that children and young people who have been involved in the child protection system are too often forced into the quicksand of the youth justice system.
In 2017, the government announced an independent review of the NSW child protection system as it relates to Aboriginal children. The Family is Culture review chaired by Professor Megan Davis made 125 recommendations, including structural and legislative reform.
ALS Principal Solicitor Gemma Slack-Smith said, “The Family Is Culture report released late last year laid out a clear blueprint for reform - with a focus on self-determination, transparency and early intervention. And yet six months on, we’re still waiting for a formal response from government.”
“The ALS is calling on the NSW Government to urgently commit to implementing and resourcing the 125 recommendations in the review. This must involve engagement with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and ensuring that Aboriginal families and communities have a voice in the implementation process.”
“In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that we work to address the systemic issues that continue to contribute to the over-representation of Aboriginal children in the out-of-home care system. The Family is Culture report contains critical recommendations that focus on reducing entry into care, implementation of the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle, and removing barriers to family restoration.”
“We stand ready to work to progress its implementation” said Ms Slack-Smith.
ALS Media Contact: [email protected] / 0427 346 017