Galloway is a mother of seven. Three grown-up children by her first marriage, four young children by her second. She radiates competence, steadiness, but back then, at the end of 2016, she had been going through an “emotional” time. Less than a year before her husband had died of a heart attack in this room, in front of her and the children.
“My children were going through an emotional thing, I was hurting for my babies, I was worried about my babies.” It was the Christmas holidays. On a Tuesday she had gone to Child Safety and asked for vacation care. “I was asking for help and they have used that against me.”
She had only known her 25-year-old caseworker for a month. On the Thursday she was asked to attend court. While she was there they came and took her children from her home. “Everything just happened so fast. It was all in one week.”
“They tried to say my children weren’t going to school. But the principal wrote and said they had 99% attendance.”
Galloway was not able to comfort her frightened children or tell them she would be fighting to get them back.
The children were split up and taken to two different towns. Her children had already lost their father, now they were losing their mother and everything they knew.
Since Kevin Rudd’s apology to the stolen children 10 years ago and his insistence that the nation had learned from its mistakes, the rates of child removal have increased dramatically. A report released by Family Matters last November found that Indigenous children are nearly 10 times more likely to be removed from their families than non-Indigenous children. In April of last year a UN investigation found Australia among the worst countries in the world for forced removals of Indigenous children.
“Now they are saying that it’s a new stolen generation, but it never stopped” says Landers. “It’s like the apology never happened.”