Aboriginal children 'stolen' from Yolngu communities a protection system failure, Mark Guyula says

By Nadia Daly

An Aboriginal politician has made a passionate address to Northern Territory Parliament about a child protection system he says is failing Indigenous children.

Member for Nhulunbuy Yingiya Mark Guyula took the unprecedented step of naming nine children he said were recently “stolen”.

The children he was referring were placed in government foster care in Darwin.

“I want to say to these children, you are loved,” Mr Guyula said.

This week Mr Guyula slammed the Northern Territory Government’s child protection system

He said laws stating attempts must be made to place Aboriginal children with their extended family and community were being “broken”.

Nine children named

NT Families Minister Dale Wakefield has vowed to meet with Mr Guyula to discuss his concerns.

In his brief but passionate address to Parliament, Mr Guyula spoke to the nine children he named directly.

“You are not orphans,” he said.

“There is no such thing as ‘orphan’ in Yolngu society. There is always another kin that can care for you.”

He said the children’s families had fought for them and did not want them to go.

‘Sorry you have been stolen’

“You were taken by force and they never wanted you to go,” Mr Guyula said.


“Your people, your nation, did not want you to go.

“Your family, your nation are fighting for you now.

“We are sorry you have been stolen from us.”

He apologised to the children for losing hope in the face of a system “that threatens our existence”.

“We want you back. Never believe you can’t come back,” he said.

On the anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s national apology for the Stolen Generations this week, the former prime minister warned of the potential for a second stolen generation because of the growing numbers of Indigenous children being placed in foster care nationally.

“We do not want to see the emergence of a second stolen generation, not by design, but by default,” Mr Rudd said.

Concerns from Children’s Commissioner

The NT Children’s Commissioner Colleen Gwynne this week said she was concerned not enough was being done to find out if Aboriginal children could be safely placed closer to home

“No-one will argue that the safety of the child is paramount,” Ms Gwynne said.

“What I am concerned about is the efforts that we’re going to prior to that to make a full kinship assessment, to make sure there are no other options available in the community and the community needs to be part of that assessment.”

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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