Public Statement Release Date: 13/02/2017
RE: Removal of Yolngu Children form Arnhem Land
Stolen Generation Continues- the Yolngu Nation says No to the Removal of Yolngu citizens
In the last month I have been made aware of eight children who have been taken from the lands of the Yolngu Nation and stolen away to Darwin by the NT Government. The communication I am receiving from community members is that there are many more children that have been removed. Children are being taken off their country and literally out of the arms of their family, despite protective legislation and policies.
The Yolngu kinship structure is composed of several mothers and fathers, many grandmothers and grandfathers. It is very hard to exhaust this list of people when looking for someone to provide care for a child.
In 2015, Grandmothers Against Removal reached an agreement with Department of Families and Children Services in NSW on a set of guiding principles aimed at giving Aboriginal communities more control over child protection issues. In Arnhem Land I want the same opportunity for the Yolngu Nation with the intention of giving Yolngu clans control over the welfare of Yolngu children.
Yolngu leaders and Yolngu people – we are a sovereign nation. Without a treaty and without our consent, what makes the NT Government think they can take our citizens from our lands, especially the most vulnerable of our society- our children. I am walking in both worlds with the aim of creating a treaty whereby Yolngu people can maintain culture and have the right to self-determination while working in partnership with all Australians. We seek unity, but the NT Government is acting with cruel and oppressive behaviour.
As you can see, the issue of child removal goes to the very core of sovereignty, self- determination and Treaty. If the NT Government is taking Yolngu children off Yolngu country without the consent of the Yolngu community and placing them in a foreign community with foreign carers, then they are abusing the entire people group.
I demand the NT Government stops the practice of removing Yolngu children from their family and their country and their culture. I want the Government to engage with myself and Yolngu leadership about giving Yolngu communities the authority and resources to work in partnership to protect Yolngu children from harm: including the harm that occurs when they are removed from their culture.
Yingiya Guyula will be available for Interview on Monday the 13th at 10 am at the front of Parliament House. Monday the 13th is the Anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generation in 2008.