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AASW National Vice-President Linda Ford’s statement

On Thursday, 2 September Marcia Langton made the following comments which were aired on ABC’s Q&A program:

“Every social worker in the child protection system just about will conclude that Aboriginal children are at risk and remove them and there’s no triaging of this problem. The authorities need to move women and children to a safe place immediately and not separate children from their mothers.”

We understand that comments such as these could feel hurtful to our members, particularly those who are currently or have historically worked in the child protection systems.

As a proud social worker, an Aboriginal woman and having worked in the child protection system for 17 years, I have reached out to Marcia on behalf of the AASW to clarify with her that whilst we support her ideology, her comments about social workers were inappropriate and undeserving and in no way reflect the actual amazing and tireless work our profession does in this space to protect children and keep families together where possible.

I know from first-hand experience the work social workers undertake in child protection and that we are not the only professions in this space and cannot affect the wealth of changes we would like to see happen in child protection nationally. I have made Marcia aware of the great work being done by the profession, within a system which is in desperate need for reform.

I have also let Marcia know, that as a profession, we are deeply committed to working alongside Aboriginal people in their rights and aspirations to self-determination, and this carries through in all aspects of our work, including within a compromised and complex system like the child protection system.

We continue to advocate for systemic reform which is so desperately needed to keep children safe and families together. We should continue to be proud of the work we are doing, and continue to be an advocate for the children and families we work with. The AASW recognises that it is important to address misinformation and to invite our critics into the conversation so that they are able to garner greater understanding so that they can become our allies moving forward and therefore we have reached out to Marcia to talk with us further.

I’d like to take the time to say a big thank you to all of our members and acknowledge the important work you do in the community, and especially those working in the child protection systems.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers