Aboriginal child removal

Ms HUTCHINS (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) (11:32:48) — I thank the member for her question, and I welcome the opportunity to be able to discuss these extremely important issues here in the Parliament, because we all know that those opposite have not asked a single question in this space in the time that they have been sitting on the front benches, so I welcome the opportunity to be able to speak about these issues.

Certainly I am extremely proud to be working in partnership with the Minister for Families and Children on implementing the recommendations that have come from both of those reports and moving forward. I think the most important thing that we have done in this space is to ensure that we are investing in kinship programs and ensuring that where Aboriginal children are at risk in their current homes due to domestic violence and family violence and due to alcohol and drug abuse we are doing our best to ensure that they are continued in care and connected to their local culture, to their local kinship and to be protected.

Ms HUTCHINS (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs) (11:28:59) — I thank the member for her question and really cherish the opportunity to be able to stand up here in the house and talk about the stolen generations, because unfortunately it has been a conversation that has been lacking in the last few years. I met with a delegation only two weeks ago here in the Parliament of stolen generations members in Victoria, including Murray Harrison, who was a member of the stolen generations and who was actually celebrating his 80th birthday on the day he came in to see me. He talked about the hardship and the real-life stories that are still being lived every single day by those of the stolen generations here in Victoria.

I have said on the public record, in fact just last Tuesday at one of the commemorative events for the stolen generations at the Aboriginal Advancement League, that we will work with the federal opposition, who have committed to a redress scheme for the stolen generations. We will continue to work with them when they come to government at the federal level. We know the current federal government under Malcolm Turnbull have turned their backs on Aboriginal Australians and Aboriginal Victorians by ignoring the call that came from Uluru around having a voice to the Parliament and having a redress scheme that will help heal and help with reconciliation.

Certainly when it comes to the matter of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, honestly one of the most disappointing days that I have had in my time as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs was the day that I stood to do a press conference with the Minister for Families and Children and to talk about the humungous increase that had occurred under the previous government and how we were going to tackle it — a 42 per cent increase of Aboriginal kids moving into out-of-home care. When we stood at that press conference unfortunately one journalist turned up to hear what the facts were and what we were doing to take that issue on.

I have got to say I am very proud of what this government has achieved, in the very short time we have been in government, in this space. We have committed and worked hand in hand with the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, the leading agency for Aboriginal child care in this state, to actually move forward in addressing these issues. We have implemented some of the recommendations from Taskforce 1000. We have made the huge step of changing section 18 of the relevant act that those opposite actually put in place. We have repealed that to make sure that more people with Aboriginal kinship are connected to their culture, because we know from the experience of the stolen generations that this is the way we heal; this is the way we move forward