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Issue #1745      August 24, 2016

Grandmothers take to the streets

A group of Aboriginal NSW and Torres Strait Islander grandmothers and their supporters have marched on NSW’s Parliament House calling for Indigenous children to be protected from “abusers” in state-run institutions.

Police stopped traffic as about 100 protesters passed through Sydney’s city centre on National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day on August 4 holding banners and signs and chanting “bring the children home”.

Addressing the marchers at the gates of Parliament House, Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) organiser Suellyn Tighe said her people had lost the power to guard their children from harm.

“We need to take back that power and get our kids and protect them from (their) abusers, which is the Department of Family and Community Services in this state,” she shouted through a microphone.

“What we need to do is become strong, mob up, get together and go back to our communities and say ‘no more, not in this country, never again’.”

The rally came just over a week after the announcement of a royal commission into the Northern Territory youth detention system. That announcement followed footage of boys being stripped naked, tear-gassed and held in solitary confinement at Darwin’s Don Dale youth detention centre, shining a light on issues Indigenous legal and social justice bodies had been speaking about for years.

Tighe called for the guards responsible to be “put on a boat” and sent away, prompting cheers and applause. “Our kids are precious. They don’t deserve that kind of treatment,” she said. Greens MP David Shoebridge spoke at the rally, saying decisions about Aboriginal children should be made by the Aboriginal community.

“The answer to this isn’t a new minister with a brand new vision about how white bureaucrats can deal with children,” he said. “The answer to this is returning the decision making and the powers back to the Aboriginal community.”

Koori Mail

Next article – Miner avoids criminal record, fine

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