Class action over kids' treatment
A class action has been launched against child protection departments in various Australian states, citing allegations of racial discrimination and systemic misconduct.
The legal action across South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales targets the treatment of First Nations families and their children in the child protection system.
An initial complaint in New South Wales was filed following the distressing experience of a mother whose two children were removed from her care.
Her ordeal began in 2016 when she sought medical attention for her five-year-old daughter after a minor head injury at a party.
However, within days, social workers, suspecting domestic violence, removed both her children.
This case is not isolated. In Queensland, the class action, led by Bottoms English Lawyers, involves claimants including a woman who lost her grandchildren to the system despite adhering to child safety protocols.
Caitlin Wilson, Shine Lawyers special counsel, is spearheading the lawsuit and highlights the alarming over-representation of Indigenous children in out-of-home care.
“There's been 33 reports done in the last 26 years and we've seen no change,” she has told reporters.
Recent national statistics show Indigenous children are significantly more likely to be reported to child protection authorities and placed under protection orders compared to non-Indigenous children.
The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 forms the legal basis of these claims, focusing on the unlawful act of racial discrimination in child protection.