Indigenous call to Australian authorities: “Our communities and families have the capacity to care for our children”

Logo of the Secretariat of National Aboriginaland Islander Child Care

At a time when more Australian Aboriginal children than ever before are being ripped from their families, communities and country by white ‘welfare’ authorities, more than 1,000 people from all over Australia have attended the sixth national conference of the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) in Perth. Since 1997 the number of Aboriginal children being forcibly removed has increased more than five times, with more than 15,000 Aboriginal kids now in foster care. In the state of Western Australia, arguably the most racist in the country, more than half of all children in ‘care’ are Aboriginal, despite being less than 5% of the population. Aboriginal activists are calling it “a new stolen generation”. SNAICC reports strong outcomes emerging from the final day of the conference after “three days of rigorous discussion and generous sharing of experiences and knowledge”.


A conference communiqué will be sent to Ministers and Federal and State Departments, examining the discussions that have been held and the resolutions that have been found. Key points from this communiqué have been outlined in an SNAICC media release.The first session for Day 3, the morning plenary, saw delegates treated to keynote presentations from two of the country’s leading experts on childhood development and the importance of children growing up in culture, Professor Fiona Stanley and June Oscar AO.

Professor Stanley, Founding Director and Patron of the Telethon Kids Institute, shared her research on intergenerational trauma, and the ability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander controlled early childhood services to overcome this trauma.

The presentation showcased what we already know: trauma introduced via colonisation greatly impacts the brain development of young children, and this trauma is inherited by future generations.

“Everything that leads to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was removed (by colonisation),” Professor Stanley said.

“What this has lead to is two populations in one country.

“It’s about time we asked Governments to be held accountable to Aboriginal people.”

The evidence presented clearly shows us that the positive parenting of caring parents, who raise a child in a loving environment, more than compensates for the financial state the family is in.

“What parents do is ultimately more important than what parents are.”

June Oscar, CEO of Marninwarntikura Fitzroy Women’s Resource Centre, shared the community-led development and the renowned Liliwan study, which recorded the prevalence of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

“Today research and evidence clearly tells us that the experiences of early childhood have a profound impact on physical, mental and spiritual health in later life,” Ms Oscar said.

Ms Oscar called for everyone involved in child development to work together in our processes, with an agenda we can put forward to our new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“Both the Indigenous social services sector and government need to acknowledge that we are in partnership. When either of us does not fully comprehend this reality we quickly drift into often adversarial positions.”

“Colonisation kicked the love out of our families, and we’ve got to get it back.”

Final concurrent sessions were held in the afternoon, allowing presenters to showcase the successful stories of their work and programs, and delegates to participate and learn from workshops.

The closing plenary panel presentation provided a space to us to look to the future, with panel members and attendees exploring how communities are dealing with the issues our children face, and the solutions we have to these issues.

Professor Pat Dudgeon chaired a panel of expert speakers, which consisted of:

  • Muriel Bamblett, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA)
  • Mick Good, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
  • Andrea Mason, NPY Women’s Council
  • Antoinette Braybrook, Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention & Legal Services Victoria

When asked of his vision for the future, Mr Gooda had a simple answer.

“I want my grandkids to grow up and be valued because they’re Gangulu people,” Mr Gooda said. “I want our kids to be given the opportunity that every other kid in this nation gets to reach their potential.”

On how to remove the barriers our children and families face, Ms Mason also had a simple solution: “In our region, law, language, identity, place – it’s never been broken. 50,000 years and going strong.”

Ms Braybrook explained that for Aboriginal culture and knowledge to continue, it must not only be practised, but valued by the whole of the country: “We need an attitude change across society to ensure our voices are being heard.”

As SNAICC Executive member Garry Matthews concluded the conference with a reading of the communiqué, delegates left the Perth Conference and Exhibition Centre to watch a closing corroboree in the Summer Garden – another incredible performance, following the morning’s display from the deadly hip-hop dancers of the Beat Walkers, and the closing plenary music from George Walley and Knot Work.



From the media release:

As we gathered in Perth we heard over 100 presentations providing strong evidence that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander models of services and care are working across the diverse range of situations and places where our people live. Our communities and families have the capacity to care for our children; we have the knowledge and we have the skills to strengthen those families in stress and support child well-being.


The cultural strengths of communities and caregivers – both women and men – should be the basis upon which the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are ensured. It is time to respect and trust this knowledge, and work with our people and services to provide quality of life for our children.


These services should be delivered through a holistic, integrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led approach.


The removal of children from their families should be the option of last resort and if removed, the focus should be to reunite them with their families and communities.


The lack of respect for our culture and our knowledge is a major contributing factor to the over-representation of our children and young people in the child protection system. We are outraged by the discrimination still embedded in the system. And we despair that we are not being heard. We also despair that current funding models are not delivering what is needed on the ground.


For reports on days 1 and 2 of the conference go to



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Some $10m from the National Tobacco Campaign will target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities with a new anti-smoking advertising campaign, Minister for Rural Health Fiona Nash announced.

"A new campaign will specifically target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in an effort to reduce smoking rates," Minister Nash said.

"The new campaign will complement the Tackling Indigenous Smoking programme and will build on the success of current and past campaigns. We expect the campaign to run on television, radio and online.

"After planning and concept testing is completed, a range of media and promotion activities will commence in the first half of 2016."

According to the 2012-13 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, more than 40 per cent of Indigenous Australians over the age of 15 smoke on a daily basis.

"We must reduce indigenous smoking rates and this campaign is one tool in our drawer," Minister Nash said.

"Tobacco smoking is responsible for around one in five deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

"Tobacco smoking is the most preventable cause of ill health and early death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people," Minister Nash said.

"This is why we are building a range of targeted programmes and promotions to address this significant issue."

APY"Queen got no right here. This is our Country, under our Tjukurpa Law ..." - Murray George (1st left in the back row of the picture)

1 October 2015

Ghillar Michael Anderson, (last right in the back row) Convenor of the Sovereign Union and co-founder of the 1972 Aboriginal Embassy, said on departing Fregon in Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in South Australia:

Tjilpi (senior Lawmen), Wati (Lawmen) and Pompa (Law Women) have now come to understand how the authority of the Tjukurpa Law is what gives the sovereign Peoples, the Anangu, dominion, in the absolute sense, over their Lands and Territories. Whiteman law is an imposed law and they no longer accept that the whiteman law is to prevail on or within their Country.


They have now decided to develop their own strategies for their Tjukurpa Law to be the effective Law in their County, as it was before the whiteman came. If the white people want their law to have any effect then, from now on, that will have to be subject to negotiation with the decision-makers in the Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Law and Culture Pty Ltd company, which they have recently established independently of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights Act 1981 as amended.


Having workshopped the APY Land Rights Act in the bush for the last two days senior leaders of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara now can see clearly how the colonial whiteman law creates an autocratic rule and, in some cases, dictates how Law business is to be done on their Country, under the rules, as have been defined by the Queen’s Parliament in South Australia. The most telling of all statements that were made over the two days was when Tjilpi Murray George, the Chair of Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Law and Culture Pty Ltd said: “Queen got no right here. This is our Country, under our Tjukurpa Law and Culture.”

Participants at the meeting very clearly understood what the High Court judgment in Mabo said when the judges ruled the Aboriginal Law, Culture and customs come from Aboriginal people and it is not a construct of the English law. Tjukurpa Law was here for thousands of years before the colonists came, but it is now recognized by the common law of Australia. This is unique (sui generis) and it is the first time that this recognition has been given to Aboriginal Law and Culture. It is this legal recognition that now reassures the Tjilpi, Wati and Pompa of Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands and Territories that there is no need for Native Title, not only because they already have freehold title to APY Lands, but also because they already have the Law, they live by it in their own Country according to the Tjukurpa. They know the Law, the Dances, Songs, Stories, Storyplaces and how the Songlines connect across their Country and beyond.


It is from this understanding through their Law and Culture that the Tjilpi, Wati and Pompas are working towards effecting their sovereign claim of right to be independent and self-determining in the modern world. They have been independent over millennia, from the Beginning. But now there is a problem with the wording ‘self-determination’ because, from the point of view for many Anangu, ‘self-determination’ is interpreted to mean that individuals can become a law unto themselves and claim individual ownership at the exclusion of others. This concept is often encouraged by Native Title anthropologists and lawyers, whereas the Anangu Lawmen and Law women’s point of view is that we have collective rights as a community and Peoples and that our way is that the one person who is the speaker for the Tjukurpa for that Country is actually representing everyone who belongs to that Storyplace and Story. Under our Law we always have one senior person who speaks for that Law and who takes responsibility for that Storyplace and its Stories, because that is the person who is entrusted with the knowledge, on behalf of others with connection to the Storyplace.


Another significant issue that was voiced is for people to understand is that the Tjukurpa (Dreaming) in one place has a songline to another and this is replicated across the continent. We may speak many languages, but we have One Law. They also proposed that there can only be one way to unite our people and that is under our Aboriginal Law, not under whiteman law, as whiteman law is about division – not unity.


At the conclusion of the meeting it was decided the ambition for independence (and self-determination)needs to be nutted out sufficiently clearly for everyone to understand that it is inclusive of all and it is not a single right of ownership per se. The meeting also proposed a delegation represents them at government level to discuss their right for Tjukurpa Law to govern APY Lands and Territories.


The meeting also resolved to ensure a strong and representative delegation travels to Canberra to attend our Sovereign Union’s Gathering of Nations at Old Parliament House on 21 & 22 November 2015. One of the key issues that must be discussed is how to let the world know that Aboriginal law is the Law of the Land, and not the Queen’s law.

Ghillar Michael Anderson

Convenor and Joint Spokesperson of Sovereign Union of First Nations and Peoples in Australia and Head of State of the Euahlayi Peoples Republic

apy with women

Sovereign Union Gathering of Nations

Whether your Nation fully understands the implications of Sovereignty, UDIs, Treaties or the Con in Constitutional Recognition or not, you are welcome to the Gathering of Nations to contribute and learn.

pdf Download and Print Flyer/Poster pdf

21 - 22 November 2015
Old Parliament House, Canberra

Camping at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy

To be fully involved in discussions you need to have the right to speak for Country, the authority to speak for your Nation or the right to collect information for your nation. We would like you to introduce your delegation by identifying who you are, what Nation you belong to and your Dreaming. Bring your flag if you have one.

Observers welcome. If you are stolen generation or have been forcefully dislocated from your Country/Nation, you must inform us all, because we must restore knowledge, as it is not within our culture for our people to be without Dreaming and Connection to Country.

It is time to bring back the fullness and health of our culture, which underpins our culture. [... and don't rely on anthropologists and genealogists because they are known to get it wrong!]


  • Unilateral Declarations of Independence (UDIs) and nation rebuilding updates;
  • Identify problems and collectively locate solutions;
  • Work collectively with Nations on strategies and methodologies to achieve our inalienable right to govern ourselves in accordance with international law & identify relevant UN resolutions and covenants;
  • Defining sovereignty and understanding Treaties between Nations;
  • Combating the deliberate destruction of our cultural heritage;
  • Decolonisation; Citizenships;
  • The Con in Constitutional Recognition
  • Sharing the information - Media and education strategies

We are charging a small registration fee of $20 per day to cover some catering and room hire. The room in the Old Parliament House building can hold 400 people.

Camping at the Aboriginal Embassy but be as self-sufficient as possible.

The Agenda, Registrations and further information will be available soon.

Read more about Sovereign Union

Blacktown resistanceAboriginal residents of Blacktown in western Sydney, the Darug people, are resisting local council plans to change the name of the area. The Conservative-dominated council wants a plebiscite to be held in 2016 to discuss replacing ‘Blacktown’ with another name, citing the need to boost investment in the region. But many Darug people say there’s too much history tied up in the name and they would lose the last bit of their history. The area was the first indigenous land grant in Australia. See a video on the issue, which includes Aboriginal language and shows some beautiful bush scenery. It also demonstrates that light-skinned people identify as Aborigines. The video is posted by The Guardian Australia.