Warrnambool elder tells minister to ‘go back to sleep’

BACKWARDS STEP: Robbie Lowe Senior does not believe white families should be allowed to adopt Aboriginal children. Picture: Rob Gunstone
BACKWARDS STEP: Robbie Lowe Senior does not believe white families should be allowed to adopt Aboriginal children. Picture: Rob Gunstone

A WARRNAMBOOL elder has slammed a suggestion Aboriginal children should be allowed to be adopted by white families.

Robbie Lowe Senior urged Federal Children’s Minister David Gillespie to “go back to sleep and have another think about it”.

He was shocked Dr Gillespie said Australia needed to shake the fear of creating another Stolen Generation before it creates an abandoned generation.

“We would be going back 200 years,” Mr Lowe said.

“The kids are not going to know where they come from – they will lose their identity.”

Mr Lowe said the minister needed to talk to Aboriginals who had been forced to grow up in white families.

“He needs to talk to people who have been through it,” he said.

Dr Gillespie believes the need to keep Aboriginal children in indigenous communities “doesn’t trump other issues”.

“In small communities, if a family is dysfunctional, that’s not satisfactory,” he said.

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine said the idea that adoption of Aboriginal children by non-indigenous families will create another stolen generation generation was a “furphy”.

He has backed calls by Dr Gillespie to allow the open adoption of children in care, even if it means placing indigenous kids outside their families or communities.

“Quite frankly in regard to a stolen generation that’s a furphy, it’s not like that anymore,” Mr Mundine said.

He said indigenous communities still carried the scars of the stolen generation and change was not going to be easy, but at the end of the day child safety was paramount.

Fostering and adoptions are a matter for each state and territory but Dr Gillespie wants to promote open adoptions and adoption policy development among his colleagues.

He said open adoptions would not be hidden or forced and parents and children would know where each other were.

Ongoing communication and contact between indigenous children and their families and communities would be key, Mr Mundine said.