Under the proposed amendments to the Children and Young Persons and the Adoption Act, children in the state’s foster care system would need to be in permanent homes within just two years.
But Greens MP David Shoebridge believes the state is on track to repeat history, just five years after then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard apologised to those impacted by forced adoption.
“Despite how damaging we know that the forced adoption process is, this state government is going right back to the past,” he told NITV News.
“There's no question at all that we would see Aboriginal kids taken from family, taken from country, taken from kin, and adopted out. This is walking, open-eyed towards another Stolen Generation.”
The debate comes as the state grapples with a high number of children in state care — almost 20,000.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, there has been a marked increase in the number of known child adoptions, rising from 100 children in 2007, to more than double that number in 2016.
Data from Family and Community Services shows of the 15,151 children who were in out-of-home care (OOHC) in 2017, almost 40 percent were from Indigenous families.
Mr Shoebridge said the government’s proposed solution does not address the real issues.
“The most common reason the state government gives for taking Aboriginal children is so-called neglect,” he said.
“That's often an indicator of real, ongoing, entrenched poverty, inadequate housing, health outcomes, and income. Those problems are rarely if ever fixed in a two year period.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the proposed amendments will give parents, and extended family members, the chance to resolve child protection risks, and create a safer environment for their children.
“When it is no longer safe for a child to stay at home, we want them to have a permanent home, as quickly as possible, through guardianship or open adoption,” she said.
“We want all children to know that they have a loving and safe home for life.”
The bill will be debated in parliament this week.