Grandmothers say, 'Give our kids back!'
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Eight years since Kevin Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generations of the 20th Century, Aboriginal Elders from around Australia converged on Federal Parliament to voice their grief and anger against the perpetrators of a new stolen generation.
Grandmothers Against Removals organised the convergence. “We are in urgent need of protection from the criminal actions of these Departments, who persecute Aboriginal families and mobilise police to terrorise children with forced removals.”
Martu Elders, Dawn Oates and Heather Sampson travelled 4000 kilometres from WA, from a place that epitomises the Stolen Generations.
Aunty Heather spoke softly, frequently pausing, “We came in to speak on behalf of our grandkids... It's really hard. I come from Jigalong way now, where rabbit proof fence was. You got it? The place is on the edge of the desert. I was born and raised in Jigalong.
“My people walked from the desert. All walked. Even my sister walked. None of these government went out there.
“My people knew the country, the waterholes. They sang, they sang tribal songs to get to the place where they was going to. Songlines. We got that. And we want to share it with our grandkids.
“My grandkids, they in Newman and they so cruelly got a hiding from the foster parents, and one of my grandsons rang to me in Jigalong and said, 'Nana, come and take me out'.... I cried. Deep within my soul, I cried.”
Aunty Dawn said, “These whitefellas don't understand what it is. They don't know. Of course they don't know because they haven't got a law...bugger all, Aboriginal law anyway...
All they doing is stealing, and taking it away from families. This is our chance, this is our great chance to say, 'Give our kids back'.
“We cry, deep in our hearts, we cry for our kids. Every day and every night when we go walkabout in our own country, we missing our grandchildren... DCP, child protection, the big names, whatever they call themselves...We got to tell this government 'All you know is whitefella law'.”
The pastor from Jigalong accompanied the women, and shared a story on behalf of the men.
“One of the men went to see his granddaughter, about three, four or five years of age. Went to the foster parents' home, knocked on the door, and the little kid answered the door and ran back down the hallway, and he heard the little child say, 'Mumma, there's an abo at the door.'
“He said he just broke, and he had to go. He had to leave.”
Capable, honourable people
The pastor said, “Many of these children are coming back with loss in their culture, in their language, and yet when they see their parents and they see where they belong, such naturalness just comes out.
“And to see them getting ripped apart where you have capable, honourable people, especially in a culture that is 60,000 years old, and hasn't changed in the way that it moves, in the way that it lives, in the way that it acts and yet you have this betrayal,” he said.
According to Larissa Behrendt in The Guardian, “The statistics from the year before the apology speech, from June 2007, showed that 9,070 Indigenous children were in out-of-home care; in June 2015 that number had risen to 15,455.
"In 2007, 45.3 per cent of Indigenous children in out-of-home care were placed with their own Indigenous family. Today that number has been reduced to 35.9 per cent. So more Indigenous children are being removed today than at any other time in Australian history – they are 10 times more likely to be in care than their non-Indigenous peers. Although they represent only 5.5 per cent of their age population, they make up 35 per cent of children in out-of-home care.”
Aunty Dawn said, “Who they think they are? They put them in a foster parents and be treated as a white person. You never change mother's love.”
“It's really bad what the government is doing. They should be ashamed of themselves. Enough is enough.”
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