23 November 2020
First Nations people with disability will tell the Disability Royal Commission this week about the structural violence they experience in the child-protection system around Australia.
“We are among the most seriously disadvantaged members of the Australian community, and are also experts on the impact of policies on us,” said Mr Damian Griffis, CEO, First Peoples Disability Network.
“This week, a number of First Nations people with disability will give evidence about the different racist and ableist systems that harm our children.”
This week’s hearing will focus on the impact of the child protection system on First Nations people with disability and their children. Evidence will be heard from First Nations people with disability, as well as those charged with implementing and watching over this system.
“The child protection system is hostile and complicated. Child removal is an ever present threat, and reality in our communities. It has become part of the community vernacular, and families live with the legacies of trauma from the removal of their parents and grandparents,” said Mr Griffis.
“First Nations people with disability are often coerced to surrender their children, rather than having supports so families can stay together,” said Mr Griffis.
“We see no evidence that the NDIS is positively working with other social services to support families to avoid child protection issues arising, or putting in place supports which prioritise children remaining in their family where child protection concerns occur.”
The Disability Royal Commission must look at the structural violence that underlies the child protection system, investigate which restrictive practices are being used in out of home care and the barriers First Nations people with disability face when accessing disability supports.
“We urgently need data about how many children with disability, including First Nations children, are in the out of home care system,” said Mr Griffis.
“We also need more First Nations disability advocates, and better training for all child protection workers, including from Aboriginal-controlled organisations.”
“We call for an immediate nationwide review of every case that resulted in the removal of a First Nations child with disability from their family.”
First Peoples Disability Network Australia