Qld mothers call for child removal changes

Sonia Kohlbacher

A group of Aboriginal mothers are calling on the Queensland government to change the way it takes children from their families or risk creating a second Stolen Generation.

Three generations of women from Cherbourg have banded together to offer solutions they say would lessen the trauma on children and better support their families.

Irene Landers, 59, is one of those compelled to take action after witnessing what she says is the beginning of a second Stolen Generation, with Indigenous children removed from homes across Queensland at eight times the rate of non-Indigenous children.

"What happened to me is now happening to my daughter and my grandchildren," the great-grandmother told AAP.

"I've stayed silent for so long. Am I going to sit here or am I going to say something?"

With the backing of elder Cephia Williams, the women are pushing for a bigger say in how children are taken from their parents, who they are placed into care with, and ongoing discussions with the state government about how that could lead to policy change.

"(We want removals) preferably to stop, but we know that's not going to happen, so a different approach by the department," Ms Landers said.

Newly-appointed Child Safety Minister Di Farmer has promised to meet with the women.

As of September, more than half of the 51 children taken from Cherbourg and surrounding communities are Indigenous.

Across the state, 973 of 2336 children in care are Indigenous.

Removing children from their families - at times during school hours and with police assistance - was sometimes the only way to protect them from violence, neglect or their relatives substance use, a Child Safety Department spokeswoman said.

"To maintain their connection to their family and culture, the department strives to place children in care with kin or community members," the spokeswoman said.

Officials have met with families across the region to hear their concerns and better include them in decisions that affect their children, she added.

They have also established a panel that includes elders to advise staff on how to make services more culturally appropriate.

Irene Landers can empathise with the challenges facing communities and bureaucrats, but says it is critical they work together to reduce the disproportionate rate of indigenous child removals.

"We're between a rock and a hard place," she said.

"But we're hoping that by doing this we're letting other communities ... know that you can stand up. You don't have to stand there and let things happen to you."