This week the National Justice Project attended the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory. Our Principal Solicitor, George Newhouse, represented Professor Larissa Behrendt as she gave evidence to the Commission on the impact of the huge increase in Aboriginal child removals in the NT in the years since the Federal Government’s NT Intervention.
Since 2008, the number of Indigenous children in out of home care has increased from 9,054 to 16,816 in June 2016. It is projected that, if matters continue at this pace, by 2024 the number of child removals will equal those of the Stolen Generation period.
At the Commission hearing, Professor Behrendt gave powerful evidence of the systemic obstacles that Aboriginal families face fighting to retain custody of their children and grandchildren, and the often violent nature of child removals. There is a clear link between the care system and youth detention – as of August 2016 60% of the children in detention were in out of home care.
The National Justice Project is working with Aboriginal families whose children have been removed, as they fight for family reunification. In 2007 George Newhouse also assisted Aboriginal Communities in the NT make a complaint to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination about the discriminatory provisions of the NT Intervention. That complaint was upheld but the removals have continued unabated.