• "The demand is that government open up the file on every child": Aunty Hazel. (Supplied)
Almost 20 years after the Bringing Them Home Report, Indigenous kids are still nine times more likely to be in out-of-home-care. Now there are calls for an Aboriginal-led review.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

Source:
NITV News
26 May 2016 - 7:40 PM  UPDATED 26 May 2016 - 7:53 PM

On a late autumn day in Redfern, a bright yellow sign billows in the wind. In bold, black writing it screams its message: SORRY MEANS YOU DON'T DO IT AGAIN. 

It's National Sorry Day, but for those gathered here, Kevin Rudd's 2008 apology to victims of the stolen generations seems hollow.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are still nine times more likely to be in out-of-home care. 

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Today, grass roots movement Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) has gathered to call for an independent review into the removal of Indigenous children. 

It's "not so much an ask, but a demand", says GMAR founder Aunty Hazel Collins. 

"The demand is that government open up the file on every child," she says.

"The direct aim is these children go home to their biological families."

The calls have been backed by the NSW/ACT Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS), which has volunteered to help conduct an independent review. 

"I'm asking to have an independent body review each case of every child in care," says state ALS CEO Gary Oliver. 

"We could honestly have it as an Aboriginal-controlled process through bodies like the ALS. 

"It would be difficult, it would be long and tedious. We're up for the fight. We need to be there to protect these children and to ensure that the law is being applied the way the law should be applied."

Immediate calls would focus on reviewing the cases of 6500 Indigenous children in out-of-home care in NSW, however Mr Oliver says he'd like to see it expanded nationally. 

A major social issue of our times: Minister for Family and Community Services

The idea for a review "may have some benefit", says Minister for Family and Community Services Brad Hazzard.

The Minister will meet with members of the Aboriginal community in Sydney tomorrow to discuss ways to reduce the number of Indigenous children in out-of-home care. 

"I am concerned that there are too many Aboriginal children in care and we need to come to grips with this major social issue of our times," he says. 

“The idea coming forward from the ALS may well have some benefit, but I would like to hear from the community tomorrow what it thinks may  assist reduce the number of Aboriginal  children in care."

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Number of Indigenous kids in care in NSW dropping

The number of Indigenous children in out-of-home car has decreased 4.7 per cent - down from 6793 in 2014 to 6472 in 2015, according to statistics from the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS).

A FACS spokesperson says 80 per cent of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care are placed with a relative of Aboriginal carer. 

"Consistent with the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle, the majority of Aboriginal children and young people are placed with relatives or kinship carers," the spokesperson said in a statement.

"Placement with relatives, kinship carers and placement in country is always the preferred option in child placement."

The spokesperson says the department is committed to ensuring cultural identity and community ties are maintained while children are in care.