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Open letter: Aboriginal children belong with family

1 December 2022

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children belong with their families and communities. They have the right to grow up safe and strong in their culture, with connections to Country.

But right now, the NSW Department of Communities and Justice removes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their homes and families at 12 times the rate of their non-Indigenous friends and schoolmates.

The practice of removing Aboriginal children from their families and culture has been happening since invasion. Today’s child protection system in NSW has resonance with historical practices used in creating the Stolen Generations – we know this because Aboriginal families have told us so, and it was confirmed by the independent 2019 Family Is Culture Review. This must not be allowed to continue.

While the recent passage of the Family Is Culture Bill represents some improvement, this is just one small step down a long road of reform. And while this road is long, it is imperative that we keep moving with urgency – because childhood is short, and almost 7,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in NSW will go to sleep tonight separated from their parents. Far too many of these kids will never return to their family or community.

We the undersigned are urging the next NSW Parliament to do the right thing for Aboriginal children and reform a child protection system that has been shown to actively harm them, by taking urgent action to fully implement the Family is Culture recommendations in genuine partnership with AbSec, the Aboriginal Legal Service, and Aboriginal communities.


To add the name of your organisation and Chair/CEO to the open letter, please email [email protected].


Signed by:

  1. Karly Warner, CEO, Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited
  2. John Leha, CEO, AbSec - NSW Child, Family and Community Peak Aboriginal Corporation 
  3. Jonathan Hunyor, CEO, Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
  4. UTS Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research
  5. Belinda Kendall, CEO, Curijo Pty Ltd
  6. Carly Stanley, CEO and CO-Founder, Deadly Connections
  7. Central Tablelands and Blue Mountains Community Legal Centre
  8. Christina Pirina, Principal Solicitor, Macarthur Legal Centre
  9. Christine Robinson, CEO, Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre Inc.
  10. Community Legal Centres NSW
  11. Dr Lisa J. Griffiths, CEO, OzChild
  12. FAMS
  13. First People’s Disability Network FPDN
  14. Gail Thorne, First Nations Senior Community Access Officer, Women’s Legal Service NSW First Nation Women Legal Program
  15. Geoffrey Winters, CEO, Just Reinvest NSW
  16. (Adjunct Professor) George Newhouse, CEO, National Justice Project
  17. Hunter Community Legal Centre
  18. Jack de Groot, CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society (NSW)
  19. Janene Cootes, Executive Officer, Intellectual Disability Rights Service
  20. John Hallam, CEO, Western Sydney Community Legal Centre
  21. Justice Connect
  22. Keenan Mundine, Deputy CEO and Co-Founder, Deadly Connections
  23. Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation
  24. Leo Patterson Ross, CEO, Tenants’ Union of NSW
  25. Lyn Morgan, Chief Executive, Oxfam Australia
  26. NCOSS
  27. Nick Espie, Legal Director, Human Rights Law Centre
  28. Nick Hudson, Acting CEO, Knowmore Legal Service
  29. North & North West Community Legal Service
  30. NSW Aboriginal Women’s Advisory Network
  31. Paul Wright, National Director, ANTAR
  32. Philip Naden, CEO, Coonamble Aboriginal Health Services
  33. Redfern Legal Centre
  34. Sarah Breusch, Acting Director, University of Newcastle Legal Centre
  35. Simone Hudson, CEO, Gudjagang Ngara li-dhi Aboriginal Corporation
  36. Sym’mon Andrews, Principal Solicitor, Central Coast Community Legal Centre
  37. The Animal Defenders Office
  38. The Benevolent Society
  39. Thiyama-li Family Violence Legal Service
  40. Trina Jones, CEO, Homelessness NSW
  41. Wayne Griffiths, CEO, Winanga-Li
  42. Wendy Knight, CEO/Principal Officer, Ngunya Jarjum Aboriginal Child and Family Network
  43. Yvette Vignando, CEO, South West Sydney Legal Centre
  44. Zoë Robinson, Advocate for Children and Young People (NSW)
  45. Professional Individualised Care
  46. NSW Aboriginal Land Council
  47. Dana Clarke, CEO, Burrun Dalai Aboriginal Corporation
  48. Australian Lawyers for Human Rights
  49. International Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL)
  50. Marrickville Legal Centre
  51. Change The Record
  52. Mums 4 Refugees
  53. Human Rights for NSW Alliance
  54. SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children




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