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First Nations child removal complaint filed in Human Rights Commission

Giovanni Torre -

Shine Lawyers has filed a complaint in the Australian Human Rights Commission against the New South Wales Department of Communities and Justice alleging the Department has been unjustly removing First Nations children from their families in what the firm describes as a modern day Stolen Generation.

Shine alleges that widespread racial discrimination across a number of state governments has resulted in the unlawful and unjust removal of children into State care. 

New South Wales is the first of four states against which Shine Lawyers will file a complaint in the Australian Human Rights Commission to determine whether the State of New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia have engaged in unlawful racial discrimination by removing First Nations children from their families, placing them into out of home care in breach of Aboriginal Child Placement Principles, and/or failing to reunify First Nations children with their families.

Class Actions Special Counsel, Caitlin Wilson, said the foster care system has been "flooded" with First Nations children who the firm alleges should never have been removed from their families and/or have been isolated from their families, community and culture once placed into State care.

"We hope that each claim in each State will set us on the path to file class actions for these aggrieved families," she said.

 "No parent recovers after the loss of a child and no child can be separated from their parent, community and culture without experiencing some level of trauma from that separation. This decades long tragedy needs to be addressed and the continuation of the stolen generation needs to stop, and that's why we've taken the first step of filing a complaint in the Australian Human Rights Commission." she said.

To be a part of this class action investigation, claimants must:   

o Identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander; and:  

o be an adult who was removed as a child by the relevant Department in NSW, Victoria, SA or WA on or after 5 March 1992; or  

o be a cultural parent or carer who has had a child/children in their care removed by the relevant department in NSW, Victoria, SA or WA on or after 5 March 1992; or  

o be a person who has otherwise experienced discrimination during their dealings with the relevant department in NSW, Victoria, SA or WA on or after 5 March 1992. 

The relevant Departments in each state are: 

o NSW – Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ); 

o Victoria – Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH);

o SA – Department of Child Protection (DCP);

o WA – Department of Communities (DOCS).

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