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Question: Removal of Aboriginal Children

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the minister representing the Minister for Child Protection a question about the forcible removal of Aboriginal children.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: An ABC article published on 18 March 2024 details quite concerning and possibly unjust practices of forcibly removing newborn Aboriginal children by the Department for Child Protection. Mothers were accused of being unfit to parent, living in inappropriate housing, or not showing up to antenatal appointments.

This has been described by South Australia's Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People April Lawrie as of some concern and she has been quoted in the media as saying that these mothers and their families were 'unaware of the actions of the department in planning a removal throughout the duration of the pregnancy' and then further 'were "denied" opportunities to be involved in planning for their babies' care'. Often left without needed supports.

Statistics provided by the DCP indicate that a quarter of newborns who were removed within 31 days of birth in 2023 were Aboriginal, even though only 5.5 per cent of the state's total child population is Aboriginal.

My questions are:

1. Has the minister ensured that there has been a family conference in each and every one of the cases where a child has been removed at birth?

2. Is the minister concerned that there is a lack of trust—that would rightfully be placed in the healthcare system—if Aboriginal mothers are having their children taken away from them in hospitals, left with letters on hospital beds or, indeed, having the delivery room entered, and for such supposed misdemeanours as not turning up to antenatal appointments?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER: I thank the honourable member for her question and I will certainly refer them to the Minister for Child Protection and bring back an answer.

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