Anthony Albanese and Linda Burney need to show ‘leadership’ following 10-year-old’s suicide: Lidia Thorpe

Katina Curtis and Hannah Cross
The Nightly
3 Min Read
The 10-year-old Indigenous boy took his own life while in the care of a State government.
The 10-year-old Indigenous boy took his own life while in the care of a State government. Credit: Unknown/Supplied

Lidia Thorpe has accused Anthony Albanese and Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney of failing to protect children after a 10-year-old boy took his own life while in state care.

The Indigenous independent senator called on the Government to urgently implement the remaining recommendations from the 1997 Bringing Them Home report that point to the need for a national approach to child protection.

“Minister Burney and the Prime Minister are failing to protect First Nations children. They should be deeply ashamed of the news of this young boy’s death,” Senator Thorpe said.

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The 10-year-old Indigenous boy, who had been living with relatives approved by authorities, died on Friday night, The Nightly revealed overnight.

His parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said they had been working towards reunification with their child after officials removed four of their six children about three years ago.

Ms Burney said the death was “shocking, heartbreaking and demands deep reflection”.

“My heart goes out to the family and community in WA that has lost a son so young. It’s shocking, heartbreaking and demands deep reflection,” Ms Burney said via social media outlet X on Thursday morning.

She is expecting to be briefed by the WA Government about the case.

Senator Thorpe said the recommendations from the Stolen Generation inquiry had sat on the shelves of many Indigenous affairs ministers and clearly pointed to the need for federal leadership.

“Today kids learn about the stolen generation in school, but what they’re not taught is that these policies never ended. The removal of First Nations children is an ongoing genocidal project being perpetrated through government policy every day,” she said.

“The Closing the Gap report showed that Labor is subjecting a whole new stolen generation of children to the trauma of removal.

“We know what Burney and Albanese will say — they’ll throw up their hands and say this is a state responsibility. But this is a national atrocity that is unfolding in every State; they need to show some leadership.”

The senator pointed to a handful of community-controlled programs operating in Victoria, NSW and the ACT that provided culturally safe wrap-around services for Indigenous people and their families which were proven to work.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles described it as “a completely, unspeakably tragic circumstance” that was impossible not to be moved by.

“It certainly does speak to the fact that we have enormous challenges going forward in relation to closing the gap,” he told ABC TV.

“We really need to be looking at ways in which we can do business in a different way because the gap is stubbornly persistent.”

But he said the Government was completely determined to close those gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous on wellbeing and life outcomes measures.

“News of this kind only adds to redoubling our efforts to make sure that we do everything we can to make inroads in respect to the gap,” Mr Marles said.

Lifeline: 13 11 14.

For culturally safe First Nations crisis support, you can give 13YARN a call on 13 92 76. They offer a free, confidential one-on-one yarning opportunity with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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