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Human rights campaigner and lawyer Debbie Kilroy is urging governments to put an end to the family policing system which sees Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being forcibly removed from their families because of racism and poverty.

‘Currently the State can steal a baby, a child, from their family for lack of resources or support and then hand the baby, the child, to another family – a ‘foster family’, who the State then provides all the resources and support to,’ Ms Kilroy said.

‘There is no doubt the families are experiencing hardship and the current family policing system does not help them, instead is punishes them – that needs to change.’

Ms Kilroy, who also heads up the national justice advocacy organisation Sisters Inside, said the removal of children because families were struggling financially and experiencing barriers to accessing support was a national crisis. 

‘There has to be an immediate end to this family policing system, and I am calling on all governments to take action. We need to abolish the family policing system’

Figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show more than 46,000 children were in out-of-home care at June 30, 2021. Around 31,400 children had been in out-of-home care for two years or more during the same period. 

The same report shows 19,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children were in out-of-home care at June 30, 2021, representing a rate of 58 per 1000 children. 

‘The State is continuing to destroy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and their communities by taking their children – they are this generation’s stolen children,’ Ms Kilroy said. ‘The impact on families is devastating.’

Ms Kilroy asserts that the family policing system criminalises and punishes those people who experience poverty and marginalisation.

She said communities were being torn apart while their children were being unnecessarily ‘cared’ for by fully funded ‘foster families’. 

‘Fracturing families causes immediate and wide-spread trauma and it generates long-term suffering and contributes to outcomes of life-long disadvantage.’

‘The State needs to end the suffering and fund families to stay together.’


How can you help?

The Sisters Inside Fund for Children supports children of women in the criminal justice system to choose their own future free of the burdens so commonly felt while their mother is in prison.

#Free Her Campaign

This campaign has been set up by Debbie Kilroy, CEO of Sisters Inside Inc.  The funds raised will be used to release people from prison and pay warrants so they are not imprisoned.