NORTHERN Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles has announced he will remove neglected Aboriginal children from their homes and adopt them out if necessary, claiming that fears of a return to the Stolen Generation have put Indigenous children at serious risk in recent years.
Mr Giles, who became the country’s first Indigenous state or territory leader earlier this year, said his government was committed to making parents take responsibility for their children. He said that if parents were unable to provide satisfactory conditions for their children that alternative solutions had to be considered, including putting neglected children up for adoption.
Mr Giles has told The Australian: “Whatever we do has to be about making parents take responsibility for their kids. And if they won’t, (we’re) prepared to provide alternative solutions. If that means those kids are loved and cared for by other parents, then so be it.”
The Howard Government introduced the Northern Territory National Emergency Response package in 2007, which was designed to address allegations of child abuse and neglect in the territory’s Indigenous communities. Mr Giles said despite ongoing commitment to improving quality of life for Northern Territory’s Aboriginal residents, only one Indigenous child had been removed from its home and adopted out in the past decade.
Mr Giles said: “There are situations in the Northern Territory where nobody has been prepared to support a permanent adoption of a child for fear of Stolen Generation. There is a lineup of families out there who say, ‘If you want help with children, we’ll be happy to foster a child, look after a child.’”
There are currently processes in place in the Northern Territory that allows for the adoption of a child that has been subjected to serious neglect or abuse, however Mr Giles claims that previous governments have hesitated to use adoption within Indigenous communities in an attempt to avoid comparisons with the Stolen Generation. He said that his government would not advocate a ‘mass grab’ of children, instead considering adoption as an option on a case-by-case basis.
Mr Giles said: “You mean to tell me when we’ve got all these alleged cases of chronic child sexual abuse, children running around on petrol, going on the streets at night sexualising themselves in some circumstances, and there’s only one permanent adoption, for fear of Stolen Generation? That is not standing up for kids.”
The Stolen Generation refers to the Indigenous children that were removed from their families by the Australian government between 1909 and 1969, in a policy intended to ‘civilise’ the country’s native population. There are no exact figures stating how many children were taken during this period, however it is believed that at least 100 000 Indigenous children were taken as a part of the Stolen Generation.
Mr Giles said: “If you’ve got kids who aren’t being looked after by their parents, there’s only so many times you can try and intervene to get that right. It’s not like we’re coming in to take kids, but where individual issues come up, we will take that decision. People were too scared of Stolen Generation. And I believe that’s why there’s a lot of kids out there with such social dysfunction.”
Mr Giles became Chief Minister of the Northern Territory in March after defeating fellow Country Liberal Party member Terry Mills in a leadership challenge. He is a former public housing manager for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, and served on the Northern Territory’s Indigenous Economic Taskforce.