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The Northern Territory Chief Minister's suggestion Aboriginal children should be adopted when necessary for their protection has been met with an enormous response from the public and the child protection field.
By Clare Rawlinson
May 14, 2013 / abc.net.au
Chief Minister Adam Giles has warned his Government will not shy from making tough decisions for the sake of child protection.
He says fears of creating a new Stolen Generation have prevented previous governments from doing what is needed for protect Aboriginal children.
His suggestion has the support of Northern Territory Treasurer Dave Tollner, who says he has seen fears of creating a new Stolen Generation in authorities, charged with protecting vulnerable children.
"We seem to think it's okay to put a child in foster care time, after time, after time, when there are people out there who are willing to adopt, who would treat that child in a loving way," Mr Tollner said.
The chief executive of the Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation, Vicki-Lee Knowles, told ABC Local Radio she was convinced there would be another Stolen Generation if Mr Giles allowed Aboriginal children to be adopted.
She says Mr Giles' statements are purely political and indicate he does not understand the extent of the Stolen Generations' effect on Aboriginal people.
"I'm absolutely appalled that an Aboriginal man who has lived in Alice Springs and seen the impacts...could make this statement," she said.
"Those effects are long term and we need to be really careful we don't create another generation of removed and lost children," she said.
"We should always try to place Aboriginal children in Aboriginal families - not necessarily their own - but that should be a long term fostering arrangement.
She said there was no debate that the safety of children is paramount regardless of culture, but other supports need to be implemented instead of adoption.
"We need to look at underlying reason people can't care for their children - often its poverty if it's in remote areas."
Northern Territory Children's Commissioner Howard Bath said he understands where the Chief Minister is coming from.
"I fully agree with him there is a serious crisis around the care of children - the child protection system has been struggling to protect children and many aren't able to be protected by current services," Dr Bath said.
He said adoption was a piece of the puzzle but was very unlikely to be successful with the strong family ties and networks within Indigenous culture.
"Why aren't we supporting families so the natural parents are given the skills and motivation to look after their own children? Surely that is an ethical responsibility of the state to provide those services," he said.
Former Indigenous health worker from Palmerston, "Jessica", told ABC her experience in the field convinced her adoption for Aboriginal chilren must be explored.
"I've worked with lots of children who have been put back with their own families including grandparents, who are not able to look after the children," she said.
"I've had children in my care basically abandoned because the relatives who've had these children put upon them can't deal with it. They love them but it's just too much for them.
"I've seen babies taken home by family...only to turn up in another ward abandoned by their family.
"Culture is so important for children, I agree with that, but do we then sit there and say 'is it better for a child to be brought up in indigenous culture or is it better for a child to be brought up so they can reach their full potential?'"
Foster Care NT manager Ann Owen said many foster carers of Indigenous children would feel genuinely concerned for the welfare of the child they are fostering if they were to be returned to their community.
"There is great fear there could be a Stolen Generation in the making with a potential adoption process," she said.
"However if this process were taken up and more children placed forward for adoption, then there's some consideration for a long term happy family with stability."