Carefully, you would think, is the way a morning breakfast show discussing the adoption of abused Aboriginal children by white Australian families should approach the issue.
But on Tuesday morning on Channel Seven’s Sunrise, the show’s co-host Sam Armytage and her all-white panel were anything but that.
The segment came after Minister for Children David Gillespie announced he was pushing for “open adoptions” of Indigenous children who were at risk of rape, assault and neglect. Meaning, he’s trying to make it easier for white Australians to adopt Aboriginal children.
At the moment, The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle, which is in place in every state and territory though not always adhered to, is designed to keep Indigenous children with relatives or within Aboriginal communities.
So with Gillespie pushing to more easily enable white Australians to adopt aboriginal children, Armytage asked her panellists: Should this be allowed?
“Post-Stolen Generation, there’s been a huge move to leave Aboriginal children where they are, even if they’re being neglected in their own families,” Armytage said.
Watch the Sunrise segment in the video below..
First, there was “commentator” Prue MacSween who called the situation a “no brainer” and said those who have an issue with Gillespie’s stance represent “political correctness gone mad”.
She also implied the Stolen Generation, which saw millions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children forcibly removed from their families from 1905 until 1969, was enforced by the Australian government “for the wellbeing” of the children.
“Don’t worry about the people who decry and hand-wring and say, ‘this will be another Stolen Generation’,” MacSween said.
“Just like the first Stolen Generation, where a lot of children were taken because it was for their wellbeing, we need to do it again, perhaps.”
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Second up, there was Brisbane radio host Ben Davis who also applauded Gillespie for saying “what a lot of politicians are afraid to say”.
“We need to be protecting kids, we need to be protecting Aboriginal kids and putting them back into that culture, what culture are they growing up seeing?” he said. “Well, they’re getting abused, they’re getting hurt and they’re getting damaged.”
To finish the segment, Armytage said, “let’s hope some sense prevails there”, and the nation is left reeling.
Many viewers shared their disgust over social media at the way the panel was all-white and, apparently, completely uneducated on the issue.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, as reported by the ABC, four Indigenous children were adopted last year. Three of these children were adopted by non-Indigenous families.
More broadly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up more than a third of all Australian children who are at risk in their own homes. There are many reasons for this, none of which were discussed on the Sunrise segment.
Surely, something must be done to help the children in Indigenous communities. But an all-white panel, without any authority on the issues involved, discussing what’s in these children’s “best interests” is not the way to a solution.
Haven’t we learnt anything?
The Sunrise segment calling for a repeat of the Stolen Generations was appalling – none of the panellists had any idea what they were talking about https://t.co/gibBHF46SR
— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) March 13, 2018
No? This is one of the justifications behind the stolen generation!!! This is blatantly racist, why even ask if he makes a good point. You should know better Sunrise.
— Alex Massey (@angry_pidgey) March 12, 2018
“It’s appalling Sunrise got a bunch of white people to opine about the forced removal of Indigenous kids”
“White people’??? ‘White People’?? You’re the real racist!!!”
How good is Australian discourse
— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) March 12, 2018
Why say only ‘white families’? Is the minister suggesting that *all* Aboriginal and other non-white families are abusive and neglectful?
And adding ‘does he make a good point?’ doesn’t make it journalism, and it doesn’t let you off the hook for posting racist bullshit, Sunrise. pic.twitter.com/3z9XiE2QuM
— IndigenousX Pty Ltd (@IndigenousXLtd) March 12, 2018
Yo @sunriseon7 if youre talking about the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, communities & culture, maybe speak to Aboriginal children, families and adults that have been affected. Not White people who have zero knowledge. You are bottom feeding off peoples pain.
— Nakkiah Lui (@nakkiahlui) March 13, 2018
@sunriseon7 is someone going to be held responsible for the appalling comments made during this incredibly offensive and nationally shameful piece of breakfast television?
— Emma Pegrum (@emma_pegrum) March 13, 2018
A spokesperson for Sunrise told Fairfax Media said “respect for others and their values and opinions is a foundation principle in debates” on the show.
“Editorial opinions, either written or articulated are a vital part of journalism,” they said.