Flat White

Time to put kids first and politics second

15 March 2018

8:35 PM

15 March 2018

8:35 PM

On Wednesday, Sunrise featured a segment that included two guests and a presenter advocating for the ban on the adoption of indigenous children by non-indigenous parents to be lifted – a suggestion from federal Children’s Minister, David Gillespie. Needless to say, the backlash from outraged activists was in no short supply.

Sunrise should have ideally had an indigenous perspective as part of this segment – they were always going to cop a backlash for not having one and missed an opportunity to feature the indigenous community figures who agree with lifting the ban. It also didn’t help that one of the guests made comments linking the policy to the ‘stolen generation’.

Because that isn’t what this proposal is at all – the stolen generation policy involved deliberately taking indigenous children and placing them with white families with the idea of ‘assimilating’ them. Gillespie’s proposal is to remove race discrimination from the adoption process for indigenous children, especially from abusive and broken homes.

When a non-indigenous child is put up for adoption, their cultural background is taken into consideration because we understand that being adopted by a family of the same background makes it easier for him or her to fit in and that having a connection to the culture of one’s biological family is beneficial too. We know well that many children adopted by families of a different race grow up to regret lacking a connection to their heritage.

However, this does not mean that we don’t champion the holistic interests of the child if a family of another race is available that can provide them with a better future, stability and opportunities. We apply this principle in family court every day — it isn’t about what the parents want or what society dictates. The welfare of the child is paramount and we know there are many factors accounting for that.

Racial discrimination in the adoption process applies to only one race — the indigenous one. In many situations, this has resulted in children being moved from one abusive relative to another.

This view is shared by indigenous activists including Northern Territory councillor Jacinta Price and Warren Mundine. Mundine notes:

What we’re seeing here is really incredible, disgraceful abuse that’s happening in Aboriginal communities… We are creating an abandoned generation who are left to permanent, unstable, rotating places of care.

Mundine and Price have recently faced malicious criticism for contradicting the politically correct establishment, including racist abuse such as being called ‘coconuts’. Evidently, this is something champions of draconian anti-free speech laws like Section 18C care little for, since Price, Mundine and their opinions don’t fit neatly into their worldview.

Adoption does not necessarily preclude a connection to one’s family or culture. An open adoption system would make it possible for indigenous children who are adopted out to non-indigenous families to visit their communities and even birth family if conditions are safe. For many kids from remote communities plagued by cyclical abuse and welfare dependency, this offers the best of two worlds –- the opportunity to break free from these issues noted by indigenous and non-indigenous academics alike, as well as the chance to experience cultural affinity and pride in heritage as many Australians of diverse backgrounds do.

Why should indigenous children be denied the opportunity to go to the best home possible, regardless of the race of the parents? The current discriminatory policy of treating indigenous kids as radically different to their fellow Australians has resulted in many being denied potentially bright futures in stable homes that may never come to fruition.

When just 143 of the nearly 48,000 Aussie kids in foster care were adopted last year, we have an imperative to favour what’s best for our children and not the incensed narratives peddled by ideologues, many of whom are Anglo-Australians from our inner-city suburbs.

This isn’t about entrenching racism or undermining minorities — it’s about the exact opposite.

Satyajeet Marar is a Sydney writer

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