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Second First Nations Child Removal Complaint filed in Human Rights Commission

Shine Lawyers has filed a Complaint in the Australian Human Rights Commission against the Department of Communities in Western Australia, alleging the Department has been removing First Nations children from their families discriminatorily, in what is being dubbed a second wave of the Stolen Generation. 

It is the second Complaint filed by the firm against a Department of Child Protection, which may lead to a class action for the affected families. The first Complaint was filed against the Department of Communities and Justice (NSW) in the AHRC, in January this year.   

The firm alleges that widespread racial discrimination across a number of State governments has resulted in the unlawful and unjust removal of First Nations children into State care, and in the failure to reunify those children with their families.   

Western Australia is the second of four states that Shine Lawyers has filed a complaint in the Australian Human Rights Commission against to determine whether the states 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.   

According to the Family Matters Report Card for 2023, Western Australia has the highest rate of over-representation of First Nations children in State care and the highest over-representation of First Nations children on long term Orders in the Country.    

Despite making up somewhere between only 3-5% of the overall population, First Nations children in Western Australia are 19.1 times more likely than non-First Nations children to be removed from their families and placed into State care and 19.4 times more likely to remain on long-term Orders.  

Class Actions Special Counsel, Caitlin Wilson, says “families across the nation have been torn apart in this modern-day Stolen Generation. Connections to culture and community have been severed and many will never recover from this unjust and unnecessary separation.”    

“We hope that each claim in each State will set us on the path to file class actions for these marginalised families who will never know a life without the weight of this trauma,” she said.    

To be a part of this class action investigation, the following criteria must be met:    You must: 

  • identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander; and:   

  • be an adult who was removed as a child ; or   

  • be a parent, cultural parent or carer who has had a child  removed from their care ; or   

  • be a family member whose application to care for a child who was removed by the Department was not assessed or was refused. 

 The removal must have occurred in either NSW, Victoria, SA or WA on or after 5 March 1992.   The relevant Departments in each state are currently referred to as follows:  

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

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

  • SA – Department of Child Protection (DCP); 

  • WA – Department of Communities (DOCS). ]

To find out more, head to our website: First Nations Child Removal Class Action Investigation

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Shine Lawyers acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, waterways and community. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past, present and emerging.

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