Will we say sorry to the Abandoned Generation in 10 years?

2517 burning car, grass fire 1 OK




Yesterday we commemorated the Stolen Generation, and Kevin Rudd’s apology on behalf of the nation 10 years ago, evoking memories of extreme suffering for some.


Today we must start thinking of the Abandoned Generation. Who is part of that?


Let’s start with the 16 children who, since last Saturday, between them:-


• were in a car stolen from Alice Springs and rolled near Titjikala;


• stole a car, tried to evade police, crashed through a fence, torched the car, evaded cops by trespassing on four residential properties and tied up some 20 police and fire fighters for hours;


• and yesterday, in broad daylight and during school hours, raced a stolen car down Todd Mall and had to be stopped by dragging a tyre deflating device across their path, kilometres away on Bradshaw Drive. Police received “multiple calls” from alarmed locals.


• Today: “Police have arrested and charged a 12-year-old male in relation to a number of alleged offences across Alice Springs … unlawful use of a motor vehicle – aggravated; unlawful entry, damage to property, stealing; unlawful use of a motor vehicle.”


• And: “Police have also charged a 13-year-old male with one count of unlawful use of a motor vehicle. He will appear before the Youth Justice Court on February 19.”


All these offences are of course alleged.


Where were the parents? Where are the parents?


Most of these kids would be out of custody by now, due to face court in a few days’ time. They seem to get bail automatically.


Some if not most charges are heard in closed court. That means the bail conditions are not known. This is always the case when the accused is in the care of the state.


That is very convenient for Families Minister Dale Wakefield because it makes it almost impossible to gauge how well she is doing her job.


How many kids in trouble are in the care of the Minister? We are putting that question to her.


Police will not provide complete information. When the Alice Springs News Online asked we were told: “Police running sheets are ‘police in confidence’.


“These documents are not for publication as they contain large amounts of personal and private information.


“Offence data is made public through the release of crime statistics” – a month and a half after the fact.


Meanwhile Ms Wakefield is budgeting nearly $5m this year for looking after 28 kids on bail a day.


The kids are able to walk out any time from bail support accommodation but “voluntary departure may result in the young person breaching their bail conditions”.


Anecdotal evidence is that most kids could not care less about that. How many kids are leaving their bail support accommodation is another question we are putting to Ms Wakefield.


This is just part of the small picture, the hapless and desperate mix of what’s happening now.


The big picture demands we snap out of being in the thrall of the Stolen Generation, and make it forcefully clear to the parents that they have to start parenting. This is hardly part of the conversation at the moment.


The Abandoned Generation demands it, or we will have more – probably much more – suffering to be sorry about in 10 years’ time.


Western Australia’s first Aboriginal Magistrate Sue Gordon (now president of The Graham “Polly” Farmer Foundation) was quoted in The West Australian last week: “Everyone keeps ranting and raving about another Stolen Generation.


“It’s not a Stolen Generation. Under the law the State Government can apply to the court to have a child removed for neglect, physical, sexual or emotional abuse.


“Until those handfuls of families in each State and Territory can be given some assistance, or understand that they have the responsibility, then you will continue to have children removed.”


PHOTO: Fire crews in Col Rose Drive after a stolen car had been torched and a bushfire started.




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6 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Kathy
    Posted February 23, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Until there is one law for all Australians and not two, one for white and one for black, this will continue and get worse.
    Sending them to their community has been done, but was a failure.
    Government works spent the days driving out to the communities to see if the offenders were there. Most not. What a waste of tax payers resources.
    An ankle band and monitored would be the way to go. And community service would at least benefit the town a little.

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  2. Posted February 15, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    @ An Alice extended-family member. Thank you for perhaps one of the most thoughtful and compassionate comments that I have ever had the good fortune to read on the saddest of all social issues – the dysfunction and tragic breakdown of family – whether in the Aboriginal or wider community. Your comment is now pinned to my cerebral noticeboard for future reference and citing.

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  3. An Alice Extended-Family Member
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 10:10 am

    The Stolen Generations policy helped stop eldest Aboriginal sons from inheriting the property of their early non-Aboriginal settler fathers.
    In his biography, Yami Lester talks about seeing his father once at a distance, when he left food for Yami and his mother as they walked through the pastoral station.
    Aboriginal families in Alice still know which non-Aboriginal families they are related to by blood, but not by marriage.
    Try to imagine Central Australian society today if all those fathers had recognised their offspring!
    The reality of Alice Springs is that many of us are part of such extended families: By blood or marriage or culture.
    Perhaps it’s time to use We rather than finger-point at Us or Them.
    Government carers are highly skilled but transient, and can’t provide the long-term relationships needed for proper child development.
    At our best, Alice Springs is one mixed-race extended family.
    We should still be family when some of us are at our worst. That is the only way to help our future generations grow into proper citizens. After all, the Closing the Gap report said social exclusion is the root of the problem.
    Families with errant children are often overwhelmed, cannot do more, and have no rellies who are able to help.
    Thus, it will “take a village to raise a child.”
    Perhaps our elders from all groups can co-host community conversations toward investing in that infrastructure?

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  4. Surprised!
    Posted February 15, 2018 at 7:44 am

    Until the parents take responsibility and or are held accountable for their children’s actions, things will only get worse.
    Until society accepts that a unified approach to addressing the issues is accepted, things will only get worse.
    Until we stop blaming our childhood for our adult actions, things will only get worse.
    Until we show respect for each other, things will only get worse.
    Until we cease revisiting the Stolen Generation (when it suits us) and accept that it happened, was managed abhorrently, people were treated cruelly, it should never have happened that way, but until we move on, things will only get worse.
    On the Stolen Generation, people never seem to mention the thousands of children from the UK, supposedly orphans (many weren’t) forced to come to Australia in the 50s to 70s, so it was not only the Aboriginal children that were the Stolen Generation.
    What many seem to ignore or accept, is that the fact that this happened, has in many cases provided opportunities that these people may never have had and many have attained great things because of this.
    Before some readers arc up at this comment: No, the ends doesn’t justify the means.
    We as a society have made some horrible mistakes and inflicted lots of suffering to our fellow man and to our world.
    This downfall of society and the moral values such as respect, honesty, integrity and many other things is only exacerbated by our politicians’ weak leadership, their convenient morals and our own apathy as a whole.
    We all need to move on, stop revisiting the past and build a better world for us all.
    Let us start by adopting a unified approach to deal with the real issues, learn from our mistakes and use this knowledge for the benefit of our society.

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  5. Local 1
    Posted February 14, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    It sounds like Sue Gordon is getting it and is not afraid to say it how it is.
    So many people on this and other forums are saying that the lock me up attitude of the last 20 years is proof that a punitive approach is not working, and we need to change to a more caring model.
    Well, here is your evidence of how this new system will work for us. Once the town has died completely and it turns into a service centre only, then people on the east or west coast will say, sadly, “told you so”.
    While we keep getting told an entire generation was stolen because of the colour of their skin, and feeling sorry for anybody simply because they said they were stolen too, there will be no solution, but great profits for Harvey Norman and the local bottle shops.
    People hopefully will begin to see the point of magistrate Gordon, that a child living in care is better than a child dead with “family”.

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  6. Chris2
    Posted February 14, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    Oh so succinct.

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