Elder slams NT forced adoption plan

By Lisa Martin

May 20, 2012 / smh.com.au

An indigenous elder is pleading with Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles to scrap plans to address Aboriginal child neglect via forced adoptions.

Mr Giles has warned that Aboriginal children are being left with neglectful parents for fear of creating another stolen generation.

The first indigenous head of government in Australia has flagged placing Aboriginal kids in adopted homes if their parents don't take responsibility for them.

But in a letter obtained by AAP, elder Djiniyini Gondarra, who represents 8000 Yolngu people of east Arnhem Land, urges Mr Giles to have a rethink.

"We vehemently oppose your proposed policy to take away our children and give them up for adoption," Dr Gondarra writes.

"We already live under such heavy control, with no respect. This will paralyse our people."

There is an urgent need for more family support programs in indigenous communities, Dr Gondarra adds.

"We need your help to do this, not your punishment and more pain for our people."

Dr Gondarra writes that the healing process since the federal government's 2008 apology to the stolen generations would be ruined if forced adoptions were reintroduced.

"What you now propose to do is to tear open the bandages and cut us again," he says.

Community dysfunction is caused by decades of poverty and further exacerbated by the disempowering policies of the federal and NT governments, Dr Gondarra says.

He disputes Mr Giles's claim that only one child has been taken away and given up for adoption in the Northern Territory in the past 10 years.

About 60 children are being taken away every month by child protection services, he says.

"Children are being taken away from us at numbers not seen since the stolen generations."

The Yolngu child has a spirituality, "skin", culture, language and a place in the community.

"You are committing a deep wrong by taking that away," he tells Mr Giles.

Dr Gondarra's community supports kinship-care placements and direct negotiation and resolution with parents, extended family and clan leaders.


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