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July 14th 2017 print

Jeremy Sammut

Commissioner Tim’s Blind Eye

Few can rival the Race Discrimination Commissioner for spotting what isn't there, the latest example being his gripe that too many white men occupy board positions he would prefer to see allocated to quota'd minorities. Somehow, though, racist policies afflicting Indigenous kids escape his attention

tim IIAccording to Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, Australia remains a racist country because ethnic minorities are not perfectly statistically represented in the upper ranks of politics, the media, and business. However, by calling for race-based quotas to end ‘Anglo-Celtic domination’ in these fields and ensure equality of outcomes based on racial-background, Soutphommasane is trivialising the issue of racism.

The real racism we confront in Australia is not how many ‘Asian’ CEOs there are. It is the reverse racism Indigenous children are subjected to in relation to child protection.

Indigenous children who need to be removed from their parents are treated differently to non-Indigenous children in ways that compromise their well-being and prospects in life — a form of racial discrimination about which ‘human rights’ activists like Soutphommasane are silent.

Thanks to our egalitarian values and modern attitudes towards race, we do not have anything that resembles a racial underclass denied equality of opportunity in this country — with one glaring exception. The exception is the most disadvantaged Indigenous Australians who predominately live in rural and remote ‘homeland’ communities. Established in the 1970s under the policy of Aboriginal Self-Determination as implemented by the Whitlam government, the homelands experiment in separatist development was designed to allow Indigenous people to return to ‘country’ to live on their traditional lands and practice traditional culture.

In reality, however, these communities have long suffered from a well-known array of social problems — despite the billions spent on Indigenous programs and support services — including major concerns for child welfare due to high levels of child abuse and neglect. As a result, Indigenous children are removed from their families at ten times the rate of non-indigenous. Of the 45,000 children living in care across Australia, one-third are indigenous. That amounts to more than 6% of all Indigenous children.

Less well-known is how Indigenous disadvantage – appalling social outcomes in health, housing, education, and employment concentrated in rural and remote communities — is perpetuated by Indigenous-specific child protection policies. Under the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle (ACPP) practiced in all states and territories, the preferred option is to place Indigenous children into ‘kinship care’ with relatives or local community members in the name of ensuring children maintain contact with traditional culture. This is consistent with the separatist principles of self-determination. Yet compliance with the ACCP means the priority given to ‘culture’ can outweigh child welfare concerns.

In Indigenous communities where there are more maltreated children needing care than there are functional adults capable of providing suitable homes, children can end up being placed in accordance with the ACPP in unsafe kinship placements that do not meet basic standards, and into which non-Indigenous children would not be placed.

As the last inquiry into child protection in the Northern Territory (2010′s Bath Report) found, the ACCP had justified “Aboriginal children in care receiving a lesser standard of care than non-Aboriginal children.” These findings have been echoed by the recent evidence given at the Western Australian coroner’s inquiry into high rates of Indigenous youth suicide. The common threads in 13 cases of Aboriginal children and young people who killed themselves between November, 2012, and March, 2016, in the Kimberley region include family homes featuring alcohol abuse and domestic violence; long histories of safety concerns, ranging from chronic neglect of basic needs to sexual abuse; and “frequent moves between households of various family members and guardians”.

This is to say that, due to the ACPP, Indigenous children are taken out of the frying pan of family dysfunction only to be placed back into the fire of broader community dysfunction.

Recognising these problems, and the tragic consequences for many children, the South Australian government recently proposed an amendment to the state’s child welfare laws that would have enabled Indigenous children to escape being caught up in the present system. The plan was to remove the application of the ACPP if an Indigenous child made an “informed choice” not to identify as Aboriginal in relation to placement decisions. This would, it follows, have allowed Indigenous children to be placed with safe and suitable non-Indigenous foster carers outside their communities.

However, the government dropped this provision from the new child protection act passed this month  in response to protests by offended Aboriginal groups,  who nonsensically argued that allowing children the right to opt-out of the ACPP “reeks of forced assimilation”.

The emotive claim that upholding the ACPP will prevent another Stolen Generation may look noble.  But denying the most vulnerable children in the nation the freedom to choose to leave Indigenous communities — such as the notorious APY lands in South Australia — is deeply inequitable, and locks them out of accessing the benefits and opportunities of life in mainstream society that all other Australians take for granted.

Continued compliance with the ACPP is nothing less than a recipe for trapping another lost generation of Indigenous children in dysfunctional communities, and keeping open the gaps of Indigenous social outcomes that remain a blot on our proud national record of delivering a fair go for all.

We should take the issue of racism seriously because racism is inconsistent with the nation’s core values. Eradicating Indigenous disadvantages is the number one social challenge we face. Recognition of Indigenous children’s right to relocate, if they so wish, would protect their human right to equality of opportunity regardless of race.

A Race Discrimination Commissioner serious about eliminating real race-based social disparities should stop fretting about ‘non-Anglo’ CEO numbers and focus instead on fixing Australia’s highly discriminatory child protection regime.

Jeremy Sammut is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies and author of The Madness of Australian Child Protection.

Comments [14]

  1. Bill Martin says:

    “Eradicating Indigenous disadvantages is the number one social challenge we face.” This is the crux of the matter. But the Aborigine lobby will never allow that to happen, for that would rob them of the reason to exist. For them it is absolutely essential that there is always an abundance of dire problems besetting remote Aboriginal communities, providing an inexhaustible treasure chest of justifications for the activists to remain relevant and most often in lucrative jobs with privileges galore. “Suffer little children”.

  2. Ian Matthews says:

    I’d be willing to try and see things from the Commissar’s perspective if I could just get my head up my own fundamental orifice.

    • Jody says:

      Watching the Wimbledon final last and seeing the exclusively all-white audience I kept thinking of Timmy boy standing on the centre court, pointing at individuals in the crowd and saying’You: out, You: out…not enough racial or gender diversity in this crowd”.

      I’m serious!!

  3. rosross says:

    You could almost believe the Aboriginal Industry needs dysfunction to continue and that means kids cannot be helped? Oh, hang on, they do!

  4. Anthony says:

    Excellent article Jeremy. You were able to talk about a serious that too many prefer not to. And as for what’s his name? What a fool.

  5. Jody says:

    Timmy boy would just have adored the Stazi, the Soviet Communist Party and its operatives at Pravda. Just right up his alley!!

    There’s no place for these totalitarian social engineers in Australian society; who the hell put these types in those jobs and why do THEY still have jobs?

    • ianl says:

      > ” … why do THEY still have jobs?”

      Removing these people is a starter pistol for the ABC/Fairfax axis to beat the tom-toms loudly and incessantly.

      • Jody says:

        Who gives a damn for the completely irrelevant ABC and the soon-down-the-gurgler Fairfax Media? Any company that has to send a memo to staff to reassure them that Fairfax supports business and the middle ground is absolutely doomed to failure.

        Have you seen the offerings on the ABC lately? I’m serious; they are only for the brain-dead or intellectually challenged. Their one decent program, “The Book Club”, is on during the graveyard shift and is full of tired old lefties anyway. That’s why I cannot tolerate ‘Writers’ Festivals” and the like; leave your thinking skills at the door and buy a ticket to group-think.

        Timmy boy and his minions need to be made an election issue next time; dump these authoritarian cretins NOW.

    • Keith Kennelly says:

      The managerial elites created their HRC and staffed it with with Managerial Elites, Jody.

      The Managerial Elites just appointed another of their cohort as the next Head.

      The Managerial Elites need underclasses.

      • innocuous says:

        Hey Keith I’m sure you have defined the term ‘Managerial Elite’ before and the term itself does paint a picture, however would you mind clarifying for me?

        • Keith Kennelly says:

          Sure can innocuous

          The term comes from James Barnham’s book
          The Managerial Revolution.
          He predicted in 1941 a class comprising a well educated group including the management of big business, politicians, bureaucrats, the legal profession except the Judiciary, and public servants and I’d include unionists, would come to govern. He maintained they would only do things in their own interest to the disadvantage of wage earners and entrepreneurs.

          I’d come to a similar conclusion independent of Barnham and called them to he educatted class.

          I read Burnham only after this.

          Barnhams key books are
          ‘The Managerial Revolution’, ‘The Machaeviallans’ and the ‘The Suicide of theWest’. Well worth reading.

          Cheers.

  6. mags of Queensland says:

    One thing I am thankful for is that in Quadrant you can say what you think. Any comments that call the aboriginal industry to account on other sites results in being moderated off the air.

    Being a woman of advanced years I have seen and experienced the plight of aboriginal children for a long time. Years ago I lived in a rural community and while there were not a lot of aboriginal children, there were some who attended school with me. They were treated the same as everyone else and the expectations were the same as everyone else. There was none of this identity nonsense – we were all just kids.

    Over the years I have seen how things have changed – and not for the better. From Charles Perkins and his band of revolutionaries to the present day with its activists and perpetually aggrieved the common thread has been one of victimhood and promotion of an industry that has taken the pride and performance of aboriginal people, especially young people, down to the level it is today.Instead of treasuring their children, those aboriginal people who willfully and frequently abuse and neglect their children get away with it because the general population is frozen into inaction by an industry that demands more and more and does nothing to alleviate the dire conditions that many aboriginal children live under. It’s become a hydra – fix one problem and there is sure to be another to take its place. Those activists who scream the loudest do the absolute least for ” their” people than anyone else.It’s their reason for being – they can’t live without it because it gives non deserving people a reason for being.

    It’s more than time that we became very deaf to these disgraceful people and did the right thing by aboriginal children. One way is to do away with the tag of aboriginality altogether and treat them like any other Australian child. That way they can get the help they need without all the current hoo haa that accompanies any such action. How aboriginal activists can look these children in the eye and claim that they care about them is just beyond belief. I haven’t seen one action that these activists have done that has alleviated the problem – nor are we likely to.

  7. Jody says:

    This is amongst the very few things, apart from family, which is relevant on planet Earth:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHYbMW8tpOA

  8. Jody says:

    Perhaps Timmy boy is proud of his heritage, in which case this applies to him and his acolytes:

    http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/pride-comes-after-the-fall/20070