Some argue that there is no second Stolen Generation because there is no longer a prescribed policy that children should be removed on eugenic based reasoning. The argument today is that there is no longer an assimilate or perish agenda but go tell that to the thousands of families who have had their children removed on grounds other than exposure to various violence or to damaging aberrant behaviour. I am not going to refer to sexual abuse because children removed on these grounds are relatively small numbers. This may bring on a backlash but it is fact. There is an insidious second Stolen Generation where more children than ever before are being removed on yes the grounds of the diatribe of assimilation or perish.
Kinship care should not be the best that there is on offer for removed children – this is reductionist and minimalist, damaging, trauma inducing, hate-filling. Helping families should be the be-all of protection authorities and family services. Kinship care should be the last resort.
White privilege is dominating the show once again. White terms of reference are a wrecking ball through the poorest of families, disproportionately removing children from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Instead of helping families which some child protection authorities lay claim too, the majorly White workers that make up child protection authorities are focusing their efforts on removing children instead of working to strengthen families. The thousands of families I have crossed paths with in the years since the now hypocritical and near worthless Prime Ministerial Apology who have had their children removed are devastated, from heartbreak to ruined lives and are neglected into a cesspool of trauma – that leads to disordered thinking, to depressed living, to torment, to the seeking of relief from substance dependency, to alcoholism, to jail, to homelessness and to anger soaked up by all those around them. Yet, White privilege is now trying to tell us again, as it told us three quarters of a century ago, that children should not just be removed but they are better off living their childhoods completely denied even a sliver of access to their biological parents. Child protection authorities are resorting to what their predecessors did, that there is ‘evidence’, domestic and international, that lays claim that children are better off living with strangers, for good. But the first Stolen Generations finished up with the children of the Stolen Generations and the children of removed children, far too many, filling the prisons and suiciding.
If you want research, then go no further than the fact that the most elevated risk group in the nation to suicide are of individuals who as children were removed from their families.
I have met mothers and fathers who are full bottle, with the capacity to raise their kids but a discriminatory society removes their children. The removal of these children cannot all be laid on child protection authorities but on society as a whole. We are all damned for the silences, for the soft conversations, for idly sitting by while people are subjugated to cruel policies. This is about racism and discrimination – the whole crisis of today was borne out of yesterday’s most diabolical racism. Those who make up the numbers in child protection authorities today are in effect no different to the personnel who destroyed lives yesteryear.
If the proportion of children removed who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander were White children there would be a ganging up on all this by the media, by every institution, by every human rights group, by the political machinery. This is because this nation’s media, every institution and even human rights group and the political machinery are predominately populated by White privilege. We are dealt blows by the chattering classes, by so-called academics, by every political party who all buy into the gutless cowardly language of Aboriginal and Torres Islander parents as incapable of parenting. It is racism, no less.
I have seen children removed for being poor. That is cruel. I have seen children removed because parents did not know how to engage with the invasive powers of child protection authorities. That is criminal. Child protection authorities have become the nation’s cruellest government instrument, ranking ahead of the punitive corrective services lot and the criminal justice system. What has happened to the ideals of helping out others who are doing it tough?
I grew up in migrant communities that were impoverished and where we had it tough but we were allowed to help each other out. We did not have our children removed because of our poverty or because we were latchkey kids or because we had not assimilated. I have never assimilated and I have not perished. Racism tore through our lives but our children were left alone by child protection authorities. However it is a different story if you are an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander – if you are going through any of the above that we went through as migrant children then you’re at risk of being removed.
Of what records that were not destroyed by revisionist government instruments and outgoing perpetrators of the first wave of the Stolen Generations, well thereabouts 10,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were recorded removed. Today we are at 16,000 children removed. More children are being removed than ever before and with an increasing majority for whom there is no intention by child protection authorities to return to their parents.
The media should chase down the bureaucrats and government instruments responsible for this, focus on the contemporary horror instead of handing over the ‘issue’ to a legacy of future indictments of the horror.
Today’s lot – particularly incompetent government ministers throughout the nation – carry on that the removal of children should be a ‘pressing issue’. Damn you. The response should be outcries and revolution. One in 9 of Perth’s Aboriginal children have been removed – that is an abomination. More than half of Western Australia’s removed children – nearly 4,700 – are Aboriginal children.
Western Australia’s child protection lot will soon announce that they are going to remove even more children into permanent placements with strangers and therefore extinguish all hope of reunification. Child protection authorities have so much power that far too many families are thrust into reunification battles instead of having been willed the modicum of assistance that would have kept the families together and improved their lot and given them the best shot at a happy future.
This scary policy of a focus on permanent placement of children with strangers will mean more Aboriginal children than ever before in Western Australia will be removed from their parents for the whole of their childhoods. Western Australia is without question the most racist State in the nation and it will long continue on as such.
Child protection authorities spew out the same old mantras that they make every effort possible to assist families. If only this were true.
The First Nations Homelessness Project & Advocacy Service – in Perth – has achieved a 100 per cent record in preventing child removals. They assist families, they assist the vulnerable, they never give up on families and they turn lives around. Their model should be the signature piece way forward, not only in Perth, but for the whole nation.
Jennifer Kaeshagen coordinates the FNHPAS.
“The FNHPAS works. It is a structured project, and remains prescriptively so and we identify issues, assess potential for resolution and provide advocacy in terms of best desired outcomes.”
“We psychosocially support and validate people, capacity-strengthen them while also working alongside them – they must be part of the resolution steps – to resolve concerns and issues identified by child protection and housing authorities. We also work closely with the protection and housing authorities in order to determine the extent of the validity of their concerns and where there are authentic issues then we identify authentic ways forward to resolution.”
The following is a summary of the FNHPAS model.
“We are not simply a community-driven movement but a model where we have a core group of expert support workers that we would like to increase and also of a wider resource of volunteer workers who are able to render services – a broad range of services and assistance that have ensured our successes for families. In the end our aim is to keep families together and housed and to this end we have been successful and we would like to structurally integrate our model into the first port-of-call for child protection and housing authorities where they believe they are not able to positively resolve issues. We focus on assisting families, on doing everything possible to support families. We are there for families, recognising that vulnerable families are indeed this, vulnerable and we work to strengthen families.”
Kaeshagen continues, “The First Nations Homelessness Project & Advocacy Service provides integrated advocacy on behalf of families facing eviction from public rental housing or who have unresolved disputes or breaches with the Department of Housing. The FNHPAS provides integrated advocacy on behalf of families facing the removal of their child or children by child protection authorities or of families who have been brought to the attention of child protection authorities. The FNHPAS not only provides skilled and informed advocacy for vulnerable families but once it identifies resolvable issues and behaviours within families deploys its core practitioners to work alongside and for the families to further understand their circumstance, to psychosocially support the families, to counsel and support families to improve their circumstances, to navigate and embed agreed wellbeing goals. The core workers of the FNHPAS include social workers, a psychologist, psychosocial counsellors and mental health practitioners and other support people. The FNHPAS where it assesses it can assist vulnerable or at-risk families then wraps 24/7 support around the families and will not disengage working alongside a family. The FNHPAS workers and advocates are there for families in their critical need period and build and embed trust and understandings and continue on in the provision of services and validation and in supporting positive pathways through the various phases of support.”
The FNHPAS has more than 800 volunteers who render various practical need services and support to vulnerable families with housing and child protection issues at the coordinated requests of the FNHPAS coordinators.
“The FNHPAS model methodologically identifies needs and issues – taking a family based approach at all times – and subsequently works with the various authorities and government instruments to advocate and map achievable agreed outcomes. The FNHPAS continues supporting families long after housing and child protection authorities have been satisfied that their concerns and issues have been resolved. The FNHPAS continues on supporting families in order to embed capacity-strengthening behaviours and pathways within the members of the families, within the family dynamic in order to enhance protective factors. The FNHPAS model has led to unprecedented successes, including thus far a 100 per cent record of preventing evictions from public and private rental housing and complemented by the reduction of the possibility of future issues between housing authorities, landlords and families. Similarly so the FNHPAS has at this time also a 100 per cent track record in preventing the removal of children from families by protection authorities and has the desired record of satisfying protection authorities that the children’s best interests are being served in the care and love of their parent(s). The FNHPAS has represented families at DCP meetings, mediation, in the Children’s Court and in meetings between families and visiting protection officers. Similarly so the FNHPAS has represented families at DoH meetings, mediation, before the Court and in meetings and during inspections between visiting housing officers and the families.”
In the 6 months since May FNHPAS has worked alongside 58 households and in total 238 individuals have been assisted, comprising 94 adults and 144 children.
The FNHPAS remains unfunded and the vulnerable remain hostage to White privilege.