Twenty years after the Bringing them Home report was released by the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families, Australian law continues to fail Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
Children are being placed in out-of-home care in unprecedented numbers. Juvenile detention centres are filled with Aboriginal young people, many who previously experienced government neglect whilst in ‘care’. At the same time Royal Commissions and inquiries investigate and present findings with respect to institutional violence in detention, abuse in care, institutional child sex abuse and failings of child protection departments.
Bringing them Home found that Australian child welfare needed to be ‘completely overhauled’. Yet the recommendations from Bringing them Home with respect to contemporary child welfare and juvenile justice remain largely unimplemented. Why?
The event is free, but RSVP is requested, e-mail Stephen.Foster@uts.edu.au or phone (02) 9514 9820.
Joanne and Kirra Voller are the mother and sister of Dylan Voller. Footage of Dylan’s torture in the Don Dale youth detention centre in Darwin shocked the world last year and helped trigger the current Royal Commission. Both Joanne and Kirra have courageously spoken out about the discriminatory treatment suffered by their family at the hands of both the child protection and NT corrections system. They are continuing to campaign through the Royal Commission for justice for children and youth abused by these agencies and for fundamental reforms grounded in respect for Aboriginal self-determination.
Cindy Blackstock is a member of the Gitksan First Nation. She currently serves as Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and Professor of Social Work at McGill University. Her work focuses on educating and engaging the public to address structural discrimination affecting First Nations children and their families.
Terri Libesman is Associate Professor of Law at UTS. Her research and advocacy is focused on Indigenous children’s rights. She drafted the chapters and recommendations on contemporary child welfare, family law and co-drafted the chapter on self-determination for Bringing them Home, the report of the National Inquiry. She is currently working with the Aboriginal Legal Service NSW on a project investigating participation in child welfare decision making.
Chris Cunneen is Professor of Criminology at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of NSW, Sydney. He drafted the chapter and recommendations on contemporary juvenile justice and co-drafted the chapter on self-determination for Bringing them Home the report of the National Inquiry. He is a leading international criminologist. His most recent books include Indigenous Criminology (c-authored with Juan Tauri, Policy Press, 2016), Justice Reinvestment. Winding Back Imprisonment (with Brown, Schwartz, Stubbs and Young, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), Juvenile Justice. Youth and Crime in Australia (co-authored with Rob White and Kelly Richards, Oxford University Press, 2015), and Penal Culture and Hyperincarceration (with Baldry, et al., Ashgate, 2013).
Aunty Fay Moseley is a proud Wiradjuri woman and talented artist. Fay is currently on the Board of the Coota Girls Aboriginal Corporation, which was formed to represent survivors of the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls 1912-1969. The Cootamundra Girls Home housed Aboriginal girls who were forcibly removed from their families to be trained and indentured as domestic servants in wealthy non-Aboriginal families and businesses when aged between 15 to 18 years. A former CEO of the Liverpool Local Aboriginal Land Council, Fay has worked with the Department of Community Services, Juvenile Justice and Health in a range of nursing and community-based roles.
Lester Thomas Maher was born in 1954 on Purfleet Mission, Taree NSW. A survivor of Kinchela Boys Home, Uncle Lester, has been a member of Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation since 2002 and served on the Board for five years. He has held the position of Vice Chairman since 2013. Uncle Lester worked in Sydney in the late 1960s and early 1970s where he got married and had five children. With his family, they moved to Brisbane for a better life and have been living there for the past twenty-five years. Uncle Lester has his own business, Biripi Scrap Metal. He has built a good relationship with the local Aboriginal community and is a pastor of Logan City, where he supports Aboriginal community members. Notwithstanding his move to Brisbane, Uncle Lester remains a mad South Sydney supporter. He has recently finished a security guard course, with the aim of working for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Michael Welsh is a Wailwan man from Coonamble in New South Wales and a survivor of the Kinchela Boys Home. As a child, Michael was forcibly removed from his mother and five of his siblings. As an adult, he was involved in establishing some of the first Aboriginal organisations in Coonamble. Uncle Michael has been a member of the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC) since 2009 and held the position of Treasurer since 2011. He is employed by KBHAC as its Bringing Them Home Counselling Peer Support Worker and has been a member of the Healing Foundation’s Stolen Generations Reference Group since 2014.