Family Matters National Forums


29 August 2014

Adelaide forum identifies strategies to stem the soaring number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care


A forum in Adelaide on 27 August attended by 170 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members, practitioners, service providers and researchers in the child welfare sector has identified a number of initiatives to improve South Australia’s child protection system and stem the flow of Indigenous children being removed from their families.

The forum was told that in South Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up 3.5 per cent of the child population yet comprise 30 per cent of all children in out-of-home care. The number of Indigenous children in care in SA has tripled in the past decade, from 236 in 2003 to 788 in June 2013.

This disproportionate rate is reflected across the nation, with almost 14,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care — representing a staggering 34 per cent of all children in care.

Participants at the Adelaide forum called for an overhaul of the child protection system in South Australia — which is still operating on principles from the 1960s — including a shift in focus from tertiary services to prevention and early intervention services to strengthen the capacity of vulnerable families to keep children safe.

According to participants, this new prevention focus would not necessarily require extra government investment, more a major re-alignment of existing funding. Other measures suggested by participants include:

• the use of family conferencing as soon as possible once a risk or possible risk to children has been identified, to bring service providers and family groups together to discuss issues and make informed decisions

• the need for cultural competence education for social worker students at university so that they gain an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, including traditional child rearing practices, and an understanding of the impacts of intergenerational trauma on children and families, including past policies of forcible removal

• a simplified system for family members to gain information from government agencies, as well as the creation of an independent tribunal to review child protection decisions and complaints

• more recognition and support for informal kinship care arrangements and the adoption in South Australia of the highly-acclaimed Winangay assessment tool for carers in use in NSW, and more stringent requirements on non-Aboriginal carers to ensure children remain connected with their birth families and culture, and

• the need for alternative and Aboriginal community-controlled residential care models — for example, boarding schools such as the highly successful Worawa College at Healesville, Victoria.

The Adelaide forum is part of a series of state-territory meetings under the Family Matters — Kids in Culture, Not in Care national initiative being driven by SNAICC in partnership with other major child welfare agencies to reduce the alarmingly high rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care. Forum partners in South Australia are Aboriginal Family Support Services, the South Australian Council of Social Service, Uniting Communities, and Child and Family Welfare Association.

A community meeting under the Family Matters initiative was held yesterday in Port Augusta to consult on out-of-home care issues in the Port Augusta region and other regional and remote areas of South Australia.

A report on measures and recommendations arising out of the Adelaide and Port Augusta meetings will be available soon from SNAICC. More information on the Family Matters initiative is available at

Media inquiries:
Frank Hytten, SNAICC CEO, on (0432) 345 652
Gemma Unwin, Family Matters Manager, (0423) 696 880
Giuseppe Stramandinoli, SNAICC Media Officer, (0419) 508 125

Recommended Viewing – Lurujarri Dreaming

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Good news! Lurujarri Dreaming was broadcast on SBS 2/ NITV on the 10th of December – and will be available online via the SBS online catch-up service for 2 weeks afterwards…. And we are very happy to announce for those of you in the broader Asia-Pacific region that the Australia Network – part of ABC International -will be broadcasting it throughout the Asia Pacific Region very soon with subtitles in Vietnamese, Mandarin, Bahasa Indonesian and Bahasa Malaysian….stay tuned for more details 

You can also purchase copies (great Xmas presents) via our Paypal button below, and soon through Ronin Films too

Order your copy of the ‘Lurujarri Dreaming’ DVD today – $20 + postage

Lurujarri Dreaming DVD


These are special independent copies…before the film goes into official distribution with RONIN Films later in the year (which is very exciting!) This means ALL of the proceeds of these sales go towards recouping the costs for everyone who worked on the film.

Lurujarri Dreaming tells the stories of the Goolarabooloo community of Western Australia, and their connection to sacred country. Travel along the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail that follows the Songcycle north from Broome, through Dreamtime and history. Along the way hear stories told by elders, children, women and men about their vision for reconciliation and caring for Country. Featuring a sublime musical score by Deadly Award winning Kimberely musicians Alan and Stephen Pigram, Lurujarri Dreaming tells the stories of a people and a place that are currently threatened by massive industrialisation

In July this year, Lurujarri Dreaming won an award for ‘Best Indigenous Film’ at the Heart of Gold International Film Festival (see photo attached of Senior Law Boss Phillip Roe and the Goolarabooloo family with the award), and was officially selected for the Down Under Berlin Film Festival, where it will make it’s European premier in mid September. Carsten Wergin who was working with the Broome community on his post doctoral thesis about Broome tourism will be introducing the film at the festival.

You can get updates about Lurujarri Dreaming through the blogspot by becoming a ‘follower’, or by ‘liking’ the facebook page:

This year the Goolarabooloo ran four Lurujarri Heritage Trails, during one of the busiest whale migration periods…lots of stubbed toes as people watched the whales breach and not where they were walking! Stay tuned to their website for updates about next year’s trails, as they book out very quickly!

to get news and updates for Facebook users:

Lurujarri Dreaming was recently selected for the Down Under Berlin Film Festival, the Costa Rica International Film Festival 2013, and won the BEST INDIGENOUS FILM award at the Heart of Gold International Film Festival 2013.

You will also be able to see it on free to air TV – NITV/SBS later this year in November. It will be available via SBS catch-up service online if you miss it, and also on remote community television stations such as Goolari.

In November, DVD’s of Lurujarri Dreaming will be available for sale online.

We are currently developing the educational outcome that will accompany the film. This is a big project and we are also seeking funding for this aspect which will include an interactive website and study guide linked to the Australian National Curriculum.


Woodside Petroleum pulled out of the proposal to process LNG at Walmadany in April this year, which has been a massive relief for the Goolarabooloo and other people in the Broome community.Unfortunately the fight continues to save this land, it’s Songlines and the Lurujarri Heritage Trail, as WA Premier Colin Barnett is continuing his push to compulsorily aquire the land. He is intent on building a port  as part of his plan to industrialize the Kimbereley and in his own words, tranform Broome into ‘the next Dubai’.

Please follow the links on the right for more information, and details on how to help.

Storytellers /Cultural Consultants/Production Consultants:
The Goolarabooloo Community, including : Senior Goolarabooloo Law Boss Joseph Roe,   Goolarabooloo Law Boss Phillip Roe, Margaret Cox, Keisha Roe, Goolarabooloo Law Boss Richard Hunter, Theresa Roe, Brian Councillor, Aggie Cox, Franz Hoogland, Terry Hunter, Juan McMahon, Jack Dimer
Narrator: Brian Councillor
Associate Producer : Fran Dobbie
Executive Producer : Levi Tamou
Director/Producer/Editor/Lead Animation, Artwork: Bernadette Trench-Thiedeman
Animators: Alesh Macak Curtis Moyes, Jefferson Skinner, Grant Osborne,
Musicians: Stephen and Alan Pigram
Sound Designers : Oren Gerassi, Claire Deak, Bernadette Trench-Thiedeman
Assistant Sound Designer : Gabielle Norden
Cinematographers: WyldeClan – Luke and Sharna Campbell
Paddy Roe- the late Senior Goolarabooloo Custodian- won an order of Australia medal for initiating the Lurujarri Heritage Trail in 1988. His vision encompassed the Goolarabooloo tribe walking together with non-indigenous people along their Songline, learning about the Goolarabooloo way of life and spiritual connection to country.Today, the Goolarabooloo are still carrying out his vision, albeit the pressures of the resource industry.
This 28 minute animated documentary outlines the Goolarabooloo tribe’s recent history and rich cultural connection to country, using the nine day Lurujarri Heritage Trail as it’s main structural thread. The main narrator, a young Goolarabooloo tracker named Brian Councillor, guides the viewer along the Lurujarri Heritage Trail, introducing people and places. Stories are told by a number of Goolarabooloo people, young, old, male and female, and particular stories are told in specific places along the trail – correlating with the history or dreaming story of that place. Bugurregurre or Dreaming stories are accompanied by animated sequences, as are explanations of the Songcycle and its’ importance in transmitting cultural knowledge. The crucial role of  Paddy Roe and his remarkable legacy are highlighted along the way, as is the story of his spiritual connection to the coastal country.
It was through the Lurujarri Heritage Trail that Bernadette met the Goolarabooloo community in 2002, as hundreds of others have done in the past 25 years. In 2009 I returned to Broome to visit the Goolarabooloo again , and this documentary was the outcome of a conversation with the community there. Since then we have recorded oral stories, pored over scripts and storyboards over countless cups of tea. The creative team has grown over time to accomplish a rather large task, and to bring in expertise for specific components of the project.
The film received a $5000 grant from the Hamer Family Fund, and over a hundred people supported the project with online donations through two rounds of crowdfunding – one through Pozible. The majority of this film was self-funded and made possible by the generosity of creatives providing pro-bono work.
To be screened at local and international film festivals, broadcast TV, and most importantly to be distributed to the Goolarabooloo community.
 The next step will be an online educational package to accompany the documentary.  Alongside this an audio archive for the community will utilize the many hours of oral recordings with the Goolarabooloo, including recordings of traditional language – a crucial element of this archive.

An Important Message from Brian Butler

I am disturbed that Perpetual Grief is taking the toll on Aboriginal and Islander (including the Torres Strait) peoples.

This perpetual grief is cancerous and is reducing the ability for our Nations to be anywhere near confident that Aboriginal culture including the Torres Straits culture will be as intact as it should be generations into the future.

It is my belief that when we take into account that an infant Aboriginal child will have attended over 300 funerals before they reach the age of 25, and in some cases a far greater number of funerals, we cannot be prepared to accept from anyone that our young generations should be able to learn the same way other children do and can.

Yet people have the audacity to continue to say our kids are dumb and continue to tell them that they will never make it in the mainstream. Some teachers in the school system have attitudes that cause them to say “not another funeral!”, when a child has to attend their family members funerals.

It is a wonder any of us have any tears left to shed.

Our children think it is normal to have multiple funerals week after week.

People who are lucky enough to have a job cannot get released from their place of work to attend family funerals without losing pay and entitlements.

Elders continue to be denied help to get to the funerals of their families.

I want help from all Nations to stand with me and stand up for justice, family and social reinvestment.

The first step for us to take is to reconcile with each other, cut out any family feuding under the principles of Lateral Love.

Yours in Unity through Lateral Love & Spirit of Care for all humankind,


“Aboriginalisation is the only way forward for all of humanity. By placing the focus for learning fairly and squarely on the principles of caring, sharing and respect as practiced by our Elders we will bring about the necessary change to enable us to work together for the betterment of this world.” – Brian & Nicola Butler Lateral Love Australia

In the Media – Power, not prohibition, is key for indigenous communities

Police search baggage of Palm Island Residents

TOO MUCH GROG: Police search the bags of Palm Island residents and fine them if they exceed the alcohol quota. Source: Townsville Bulletin

By Meg  Perkins
The Courier-Mail
June 24, 2013 12:00AM

THE latest decision by the High Court of Australia upholds the legitimacy of alcohol management plans, which are bitterly resented by some indigenous people.

Premier Campbell Newman says prohibition won’t work. Instead, he says: “We’ve got to target behaviour, not lay down (the law).”

When will Australia learn that “we” cannot target the behaviour of indigenous people?

Prohibition of alcohol has never worked in this country, or any other, and yet we continue to imagine that we can solve the individual and social problems that plague indigenous communities.

The Australian Psychological Society made it clear in a media release in 2007 that these problems, such as substance misuse, are the result of inter-generational trauma.

Indigenous people remember the stories told by their parents and grandparents and live the reality of disadvantage every day of their lives. And yet, there is more to the story than deficit and despair.

The Cook Islands and the island of Niue were annexed by New Zealand not long after the Torres Strait Islands were annexed by Australia.

The Cook Islands were under colonial rule until 1965, when they were offered self-government in free association with New Zealand.

This means Cook Islanders are New Zealand citizens, with the right to live and work in New Zealand and with the right to access all services, including schools, universities and hospitals.

However, they have their own parliament and make their own rules to deal with such matters as alcohol abuse.

Niue was offered the same arrangement in 1974.

There is no reason why the Torres Strait Islands and Palm Island could not enjoy self-government in free association with Australia, just as the Cook Islands and Niue do with New Zealand.

Australia could be responsible for foreign affairs and defence, just as New Zealand has been.

The resident population of the Torres Strait Islands is not very different from that of the Cook Islands and Niue is tiny, the smallest country in the world.

The residents of these Pacific islands are known to be friendly and hospitable to tourists, well-educated, enjoying life and living an independent lifestyle.

How different to the Palm Islanders’ experience, being searched by armed police at ferry terminals.

Self-determination theory says all people have a need to enjoy autonomy, competence and relatedness if they are going to succeed in

These three factors are considered to be essential for emotional and social wellbeing.

Indigenous Australians did not die out; they have said that they do not want to assimilate and be “brown Aussies”. Many talk about
a treaty and sovereignty.

Autonomy is clearly something highly valued in the indigenous communities.

Studies in Canada have found those aboriginal communities that took responsibility for their own child welfare services experienced a drop in the suicide rates.

The more autonomy these communities had – the more they were able to deal with their own young people in their own way – the more successful the interventions were.

There are people who drink too much in the Cook Islands. There are some problems with domestic violence and child abuse.

The fact remains the rate of imprisonment is very low and there is no juvenile detention centre.

Children who are having problems due to ill, absent or addicted parents are almost always taken in by relatives or other members of their communities.

Nobody is paid to provide foster care. It is done because the children are “our children”.

The United Nations declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognises their right to be different and to consider themselves different, as well as affirming “the fundamental importance” of their right to self-determination, to retain responsibility for the wellbeing of their children and to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

Prohibition of alcohol in indigenous communities, enforced by Australian courts and police, as a measure to “advance the life” of
indigenous people is at best paternalistic.

Alcohol abuse in indigenous communities is an issue that can only be addressed by indigenous people.

Autonomy is the key to sustainable social development.

Meg Perkins is a registered psychologist.

In the Media – beyond his capacity to tell Australia’s politicians how to achieve both compassion and wisdom

Dalai Lama reveals earthy sense of humour during Adelaide visit

  • by: Tory Shepherd and Deb Bogle
  • From: adelaidenow
  • June 20, 201310:27PM

The Dalai Lama greets followers at the Adelaide Airport. Picture: Tait Schmaal

The Dalai Lama greets followers at the Adelaide Airport. Picture: Tait Schmaal Source: News Limited

 The Dalai Lama speaks at the Melbourne Convention Centre.

The Dalai Lama speaks at the Melbourne Convention Centre. Source: News Limited

THE Dalai Lama has revealed his earthy sense of humour in an exchange with MC Dorinda Hafner during his sold-out session at the Adelaide Convention Centre today.

After his 40 minute address, where he urged educators to teach a code of secular ethics to develop a sense of compassion and concern for the well-being of others, the session moved to a less formal tone.

Before the question and answer session with the crowd of more than 5000, Hafner explained her concept of personal wealth – silver in her hair, gold in her teeth and a body full of natural gas.

This elicited peals of laughter from His Holiness. “I too,” he said. “Especially on a plane. And then, you look around….” Peering left and right, he leaned aside and raised one buttock from his chair. It brought the house down.

Earlier in the day, His Holiness struck a more serious note at a private session with invited guests.

It was  beyond his capacity to tell Australia’s politicians how to achieve both compassion and wisdom.

He also said that we need to work out how to judge whether asylum seekers are genuine refugees, and to show the needy compassion.

He was asked whether he had any advice for the nation’s leaders.

“I think ex-politicians should talk more to those young… politicians,” he said as he sat between Greens elder Bob Brown and SA Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

“I do not want to focus on some special message or special thing. That I think is beyond my capacity,” he said.

His Holiness covered a broad range of topics from vegetarianism to overpopulation to religion to whether we should start using desalination to green the deserts, and he also spoke at length on asylum seekers.

He said it was a “complicated” situation, that compassion had to be practical and that “you have to act according to circumstance”.

“Some really face persecution in their country… so you must act,” he said.

“Some are not in that serious a situation but they hear Australia is a good place for making money.

“So you have to judge.”

After the session His Holiness addressed a packed Adelaide Town Hall, told a range of anecdotes, chuckled endlessly, and donned an Akubra he was given by SA Independent Senator Nick Xenophon.

His Holiness also is holding a public talk this afternoon at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Yesterday, dozens of followers lined Adelaide Airport, awaiting his arrival from Melbourne just before 3pm, before hundreds crowded the Tibetan Buddhist Institute at Flinders Park to hear him speak. At the airport, His Holiness was welcomed with traditional milk and roasted barley, then he individually greeted the 60-odd followers who had waited patiently in line.


 Dalai Lama arrives at the Adelaide Airport , South Australia, greeted by his followers.

Source: News Limited

HAPPY TO BE HERE: The Dalai Lama is greeted by his followers at Adelaide Airport. Pictures: TAIT SCHMAAL

Among them were Kate Durham, Wangyal Phendytsang and their smiling baby son Tashi, whom the Dalai Lama blessed.

Ms Durham said it was a divine moment to meet the Dalai Lama and for her son to be blessed.

“They (children) are the future so it’s very important to be blessed and for Tashi to see the Dalai Lama,” she said.

“His teachings are very, very divine. It’s important to have people like His Holiness in our world because he can teach us to become better people.”

Beau Beaumont travelled from Christies Beach to see the Dalai Lama arrive and said it was well worth it.

“My heart was racing and I welled up,” he said. “The feeling of his hand touching my hand was an out-of-world experience. He is someone who I idolise and is my inspiration.”

At the Tibetan Buddhist Institute, hundreds heard him give a speech that was punctuated by his familiar laugh.

Institute member Grant Cameron said it was a special moment.

“I saw the Dalai Lama when he came in 1992 and that was one of the reasons I became a Buddhist,” he said. “To have His Holiness turn up at the centre … it’s just a remarkable day.”

The Dalai Lama used his speech to champion the need for broader education.

“He was saying the centre shouldn’t just be about teaching Buddhism and practising it, it should be a centre for education of the community as a whole,” Mr Cameron said.

“He talks about tolerance, he talks about kindness, he talks about compassion … In a world that seems to be getting angrier and more violent, that message to me seems more relevant than it ever has.”

The Dalai Lama’s talk today, on prosperity, health and friendship, will break a crowd record for the Adelaide Convention Centre.

He has already spoken in Sydney and Melbourne.


 Dalai Lama arrives at the Adelaide Airport, South Australia, greeted by his followers.

Source: News Limited

HAPPY TO BE HERE: The Dalai Lama is greeted by his followers at Adelaide Airport yesterday and, below, waves to well-wishers. Pictures: TAIT SCHMAAL

The Dalai Lama is visiting Adelaide for the first time in 21 years.

Follower Kate Durham was among the crowd who turned out to see the Dalai Lama.

“It’s a very divine moment,” she said. “It means a lot.”

The Dalai Lama is in Adelaide for a sold-out public talk at the Convention Centre tomorrow afternoon.


Dalai Lama cracks gaseous gag