A- A A+  

Abused indigenous children need safe homes not derailed debate

Helen Davidson |  09 May 2018

evived arguments about the removal of Indigenous children from their families are just the latest instalment of a “narrow debate” bringing Australia closer to another Northern Territory-style intervention, says an indigenous peak body. 

The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples said it agreed vulnerable children needed to be removed from homes but current discourse – reignited by the alleged sexual assault of a toddler in Tennant Creek last month – threatened to derail real action on issues behind high rates of child endangerment.

The statement from congress came after a report by News Corp that the federal assistant minister for children and families, David Gillespie, had called for “white families” to be allowed to adopt abused children. Gillespie said this report was inaccurate and misrepresented his view.

Since the 1997 inquiry into stolen generations, Australian jurisdictions have prioritised placement of Indigenous children with Indigenous carers, but it is not mandatory.

The congress said children in danger needed to be with healthy families in safe communities. “A narrow debate has centred primarily on whether or not to ‘remove children who have suffered’,” it said.

“This dialogue is akin to the ‘crisis talks’ that sparked the Northern Territoryemergency response under the Howard government. It essentially stops at the call to protect and punish, or to push more programs and promote more police.

“A second broader ongoing debate, seemingly overshadowed somewhat by the former debate, acknowledges individual dysfunction and wrong-doing, but goes further in its attempt to understand how these individual situations are linked to broader policy, systemic failures and inter-generational issues. It essentially strives for a clearer understanding of causation and holistic solutions.”

Congress said it was troubled by the prevalence of abuse in out-of-home care settings, and there was a need to know more about where children were being sent.

It said responses needed to be community controlled and involve Indigenous organisations which had been working and advocating on child protection, and rejected accusations they and other Indigenous leaders had been silent on child abuse.

The organisation also said the suggestion child abuse was linked to Indigenous culture was “highly offensive”



Similar articles

Why I didn’t sit with the other Maori girls at school

Liana MacDonald | 01 April 2018

Stories about racial injustice in state institutions are no great surprise if you’re Māori, because you have stories of your own — although maybe you don’t think these stories are of any value. In a society that doesn’t like talking about race and racism, this perception is unsurprising. In fact, these stories have great power because they speak of oppression and racial inequality, writes Liana MacDonald for e-Tangata

How The Gap Widened, And How To ‘Refresh’ The Policy Approach For Remote Indigenous Australia

Jon Altman | 01 April 2018

Every year a report card on the government’s performance in lifting Indigenous Australians out of poverty documents more and more failure, and a widening gap. Professor Jon Altman takes to New Matilda to explain why

From Borroloola to the bush capital

Nakari Thorpe  | 30 November 2017

Malarndirri McCarthy has a had a whirlwind career. She began as a journalist, before entering politics in the Top End. Then she returned to her first love of story-telling, but now she's back as a politician but this time in the federal arena.

Aboriginals have little to feel positive about in 2018

Tauto Sansbury | 31 March 2018

For the best part of my 40 years’ involvement with my community, with governments, with the political system, with service providers both Aboriginal and NGOs, there isn’t much I can write about that has been positive for the long term.

Inclusion@Work Index

Diversity Council Australia | 31 March 2018

Indigenous Australians experience most discrimination in the workplace Thirty-eight per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian workers experienced discrimination or harassment over the past year, a survey by non-profit organisation Diversity Council Australia has found.