• The disproportionate rate of Indigenous kids in care has previously sparked rallies across the country. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
Welfare heads, lawyers and academics will front the Northern Territory child protection royal commission as hearings continue in Alice Springs.
2 Jun 2017 - 3:27 PM  UPDATED 5 Jun 2017 - 11:27 AM

The inquiry is hearing evidence about the the rising rates of forced removals of Aboriginal children at risk of abuse from their families as National Reconciliation Week continues.

On Thursday, the commission heard welfare workers removed an Aboriginal baby from hospital immediately after she was born, and took her interstate.

The child's grandparents, known as CS and CT, told the inquiry through a translator they were already caring for two granddaughters when the girl was born. 

"They took her away without permission. That's kidnapping."

CS and CT said they were devastated to discover "white man" government workers had taken the baby without warning, explanation or interpreters.

"She was gone. We didn't know where they took her," they said.
"They took her away without permission. That's kidnapping."
Former children and families minister Kon Vatskalis lamented strong community distrust and suspicion due to historical and contemporary government mistakes.
"It was easier to grab the kid and run, than actually spend time with the family... why didn't we spend six months before helping the family to keep the kid there?" he said.
"The Territory has got a sad history of the Stolen Generation... I'm familiar with the trauma and the pain."

The former Labor politician said he took over the "poison chalice" child welfare portfolio in 2009, noting notifications of abuse or neglect had grown 400 per cent in the previous eight years while under-resourced staff were burning out at a rapid rate.

Co-commissioner Margaret White praised successful New Zealand child protection government policy that has achieved bipartisan support under that belief that kids are "too important to be a political football".
Mr Vatskalis said a commissioner should independently oversee child welfare issues, adding that government policy should look beyond four-year election cycles.
"We have to start thinking 10, 20 years, a generation (ahead)," he said.



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