Local News

Why Sunrise's Stolen Generation commentary takes us back 100 years

The breakfast show took it too far.

By Chloe Lal
Earlier this week, Federal Assistant Minister for Children David Gillespie told The Courier Mail that he'd like to "relax" the rules when it comes to placing Indigenous children with non-Indigenous families.
David spoke of the current "crisis" in the national child protection system, which places Indigenous children within Aboriginal communities wherever possible - which is deemed as a "sound principle."
Citing "rape, assault and neglect" as one of the key factors behind removal, David believes placement within the same communities does not work in all cases.
Hence his desire for "white families" to adopt Aboriginal children.
Federal Assistant Minister for Children David Gillespie
Speaking of his latest policy plans, the Federal Assistant Minister said, "If a child is being raped we can't just say it's OK on cultural grounds."
David added that he has no desire to create a new Stolen Generation – rather his focus is for the welfare of the kids affected.
"If there isn't a safe, stable, caring kith-and-kin relationship available or possible, we should look at all options," he continued.
"We need to look at open adoption. Permanency is what children need, they need stability."
Given the attention that has come from his views, David's office has tried to explain the comments, saying, "To clarify – he didn't say that only white families should be able to adopt abused children. "
"He said he wants to relax the existing rules that require children to be placed in other Aboriginal families, so that children can be fostered or adopted into non-Aboriginal families as well."
WATCH: David talks to SBS about his views

How Sunrise got involved?

On Tuesday, breakfast TV show Sunrise decided to throw in their two cents, with Samantha Armytage dedicating two-and-a-half minutes to the debate in a segment called Hot Topic.
She was joined by two media personalities, Prue MacSween and Ben Davis.
It should be noted that, the network decided not to include anyone from the Indigenous community to participate in the discussion.
Sam opened by saying, "Post-Stolen Generations, there's been this huge move to leave Aboriginal children where they are, even if they're being neglected in their own families."
Panellist Prue expressed it was a "no brainer" to remove kids and move them to a white family.
The all-white panel.
"Don't worry about the people who decry and handwring and say, this will be another Stolen Generation."
Prue added, "Just like the first stolen generation – a lot of children were taken because it was for their well being and we need to do it again."
Ben completely agreed with Prue, citing, "This is political correctness gone wrong!"
The radio host also loosely dropped the idea that Australian Aboriginal leader Warren Mundine agreed with the notion of Indigenous kids being placed with white families.
Sam – whose role was to mediate the chat - showed no issue with any of the comments made by her guests.
She concluded the discussion by saying, "Let's hope some sense prevails there."
Standing by their choice, the network then shared footage of the discussion across their social media sites, teamed with the caption: "A Minister has suggested that white families be allowed to adopt abused aboriginal children to save them from rape, assault and neglect."
Asking, "Does he make a good point?"
Sam has commented on the matter, tweeting, "Watch the video before you comment, so you know what actually happened. I hosted a segment based on a News Corp piece quoting the Fed Ass. Minister for Children."
The social team opted for emojis for their Facebook post...

How the Australian public reacted?

Unsurprisingly, the entire country was baffled by the show's actions.
People across all platforms of social media voiced their dismay towards the program.
One person wanted to know if the show would be accountable for their actions, tweeting, "@sunriseon7 is someone going to be held responsible for the appalling comments made during this incredibly offensive and nationally shameful piece of breakfast television?"
Another slammed, "Ummmm... what. Is. Happening. Here? Where are the indigenous voices for this topic? #mindblown."
Prominent members of the Indigenous community also raised their voice about the Sunrise segment, pointing out how it was pretty much encouraging the Stolen Generation 2.0.
Amy McQuire, a South Sea Islander and Darumbal journalist, said, "The idea that Aboriginal children are not being placed in white families is a lie," she wrote.
"The greater lie is that Aboriginal children are not being taken away and are being kept in dangerous situations for fear of a 'stolen generation.'"
"That does not gel with the statistics: Aboriginal children are being taken away at exponential rates and these rates have grown every year since Kevin Rudd gave his apology to the Stolen Generations and promised it would never happen again."
Comedian Nakkiah Lui voiced her outrage, "If you're talking about the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, communities and culture, maybe speak to Aboriginal children, families and adults that have been affected."
Adding, "Not white people who have zero knowledge."
James Dean, an Indigenous ABC reporter from Alice Springs honed in on Ben's comments about Indigenous icon Warren Mundine agreeing with this notion.
"I see the horrible conditions some of these kids live in. But the suggestion that ONLY white families should take them, is a terrible inference that suddenly EVERY Aboriginal family is bad.
"Also the reference at the end it the video that Warren Mundine supports the idea, incorrect as well, Mundine does not support white families taking in abused Aboriginal children, he agrees with the consensus that these children need to be removed from these abusive environments."
WATCH: Karl Stefanovic gives his impassioned support to the Melbourne council that dropped Australia Day

Why are we having this reaction?

When it comes to topics like children's welfare and Indigenous affairs – there will always be a lot of discussion.
Sunrise is a national breakfast show broadcast all across the country. The way they paint a topic does matter, it holds value.
A spokesperson for Seven justified their actions, telling Fairfax Media: "Editorial opinions, either written or articulated are a vital part of journalism."
"At all times on Sunrise, respect for others and their values and opinions is a foundation principle in debates."
"The issue raised by the page one article in today's newspapers around the country warranted a discussion in a fair and reasonable forum, as undertaken by social commentators Prue MacSween and Ben Davis."
The conversation that took place on Sunrise - a national platform – was nothing more than two-minute viral clip that sweeps a larger issue under a very heavy rug.
A far cry from "a fair and reasonable forum" - the fact that Sunrise decided two shock jocks (with Prue's 2016 claim to fame being she wanted to run over Yassmin Abdel-Magied) along with Samantha Armytage were the best and most balanced choice to address the nation about such a big issue is a joke.
Channel Seven's editorial decision to have zero Indigenous representation on the panel was not only offensive and negligent - it is poor journalism.

How I personally felt by Sunrise's Hot Topic

As a daughter of two Fijian-Indian immigrants, I can't even fathom how the Indigenous communities must be feeling after this.
As an Australian, who has faced her fair share of racism, I am disgusted.
I'm disgusted that when I look at a "fair and open discussion" on commercial TV, I see little to zero diversity...
And for all those who want to cite Waleed Aly, he is just one man in a sea of white.
It is alarming that in 2018, we can't have a balanced panel talking about real issues with a diverse range of commentators.
How is it possible that Channel Seven thought it was OK to go ahead with that piece of content?
Here's hoping that this error will pave a path for open dialogue with more than one point of view.

Incredible Australians making waves for the Indigenous community