A decade on from the national apology to the Stolen Generations, Aboriginal children in Tasmania continue to be removed at unacceptable rates.
Commenting on the most recent statistics about the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Manager Ms Lisa Coulson said in Launceston today, “Aboriginal children in Tasmania are over 3 times more likely than other children to be the subject of child protection orders, to be removed from their families, and to be placed in out of home care (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child Protection Australia 2015-16, Tables 4.4 and 5.2). The 1997 Report of the Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal Children from Their Families, the Bringing Them Home report, made 54 recommendations about how to stop that unacceptable situation. Many of those recommendations found further support in our own Tasmanian study of child protection issues but Tasmanian authorities have ignored all our efforts to stop the trend of removals. Minister Jacquie Petrusma most recently has ignored our calls for greater Aboriginal community involvement in child protection decisions, flying in the face of changes made in most other Australian States.”
Ms Coulson said that closing the gap in social outcomes and avoiding a repetition of the stolen generations “must have Aboriginal community decision making at its core, but that is exactly what is still lacking in Tasmania. Consistently with the most recent calls for a “refresh” of the COAG targets to close the gap by ensuring greater Aboriginal decision making in governmental processes, we are calling on the Tasmanian government to restore jurisdiction for child safety to the Aboriginal community. Having destroyed our community structures and taken our children away, governments need to fund these new processes to ensure both a healthier future for our children and more empowered Aboriginal community structures for the future. We are up to the challenge”.
Northern Regional Manager and Children and Families Spokesperson
Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre