Reflections from a young Aboriginal woman
Melinda, 20, shares her experience.
My childhood was very unstable. My family moved around a lot. I went to around four schools before Year One. This unstable life was a result of my parents abusing drugs and alcohol. Police were present often, which led to my dad being incarcerated most of my life. When I was five the State removed me and my siblings
. We were lucky enough to have a grandmother and aunties who sacrificed so much to raise us so we wouldn’t disappear into foster care and grow up not knowing each other.
As a young adult I now know why I couldn’t stay at home, but throughout my childhood I wanted to know, which is why I returned home at 13. Living with my parents was not easy as it was when I was younger. Eventually after a year I returned to my aunty and she helped me finish school. My family stuck by me as I worked out who I was.
“Family and community are so important to
who I am, to who we are as Aboriginal people.
Removing children from their parents and
family should only ever be a last resort.”
I would like to see more done to help keep Aboriginal children including those with disabilities, keep their identity and sense of belonging to their family and community. It is important to keep our children strong in their culture, something I am passing onto my own children.
It is also important, particularly for Aboriginal children, that family are able to participate in decisions about their care and upbringing. This is also essential for children just like me. I would like to see children have more involvement in what’s happening with their lives, and for adults to listen to them and take them seriously.
Lastly I would also like to see more support for families to stay together, particularly for parents to get back on track, so that children are able to return home to where we belong.