Sunrise mea-culpa: Indigenous panel address “under strain” child protection system

Experts Weigh In On Indigenous Children Protection And Health Issues

This morning we held a special edition of Hot Topics, taking a closer look at the issue of child protection, particularly in Indigenous communities.Three panellists who are experts in their field joined us to discuss.

Posted by Sunrise on Monday, March 19, 2018

Sunrise this morning featured an extended Hot Topics discussion following wide criticism of a segment last week which advocated for the removal of at-risk Indigenous children into “white” families.

A 9 minute segment today hosted by David Koch included 3 Indigenous community representatives, CEO Danila Dilba Health Service Olga Havnen, Aboriginal health expert James Ward and NACCHO Chief Executive Patricia Turner.

The discussion clarified where such children are prioritised with relatives and local communities.

“We absolutely believe that the safety and well-being of children is paramount, first and foremost,” said Olga Havnen.

“Secondly, in response to the removal of kids, we don’t actually believe that is the best course of action. The reason for that is, with sufficient support we hope that families might be able to continue to care for their children or alternatively extended family. If that’s not possible then there is absolutely no prohibition or restriction on the ability of non-Aboriginal people to care for children -either as foster carers orin permanent adoption.

“However we don’t see those processes as being the solution. We have a child protection system that is absolutely under strain.”

Discussion also tackled health, funding, government and systemic problems.

“It’s been terrific to talk to all 3 of you, really appreciate it,”  David Koch concluded. “Let’s work together to try and get some of those changes through. It is a real issue affecting Indigenous communities right across the country.”

Olga Havnen added, “You’re absolutely right. What we need is intelligent, informative discussion looking for solutions rather than the confected outrage and anger.”

Last week the show was subjected to protests and headlines with commentator Prue MacSween referencing another stolen generation, in a panel with no inclusive or contrasting perspectives.

Updated: However demonstrators are yet to subside for the Seven show, again attending Martin Place today. A petition calling for an apology at currently has over 13,000 signatures.


  1. Very upset that Sunrise did this. They should have just ignored the phony outrage and moved on. These people are never satisfied, you can never please them. By grovelling in this way Sunrise has lost a lot of respect.

    • You may be referring to the street protest, but Sunrise was responding to much wider concerns expressed by plenty of people who did not hold placards. What you deem as grovelling others will see as adding further balance to the debate. In news and current affairs networks are obliged to provide balanced reporting.

      • Agree David. There were a number of issues with the original segment… including a number of factual inaccuracies. And to be honest, to include such a important matter on a segment called ‘hot topics’ was extremely poor judgement.

    • Sunrise has gained some respect from me as a result of this. They’ve shown a little bit of integrity imo. Something we don’t see a great deal of in these shows. But to each their own.

  2. Hope Sunrise have learnt some lessons here. It’s one thing to discuss someone taking a car spot or the price of bread but when it comes to complex issues like this it’s just a no go zone with these discussion panels with people that have no idea what they’re talking about. At least Sunrise did address this today.

    • Yes Sunrise has learnt that saying just saying “can’t” instead of “aren’t” can get you into all sorts of hot water on social media these days. To prove Sunrise wrong all you need to do is too supply the number of aboriginal children fostered with non-aboriginal families and the number of the foster children who have been adopted. Nobody has done that why? Since the Stolen Generation report every state and territory has a policy prefering to foster aboriginal children with kin, to the point where they don’t do anything else. Every state and territory has had a policy of not allowing non relatives to adopt foster children, except NSW where Prue Goward reversed the policy last year and has been resoundly attacked by social workers, activists and the media for doing so ever since. For the NT the statistics are that there are 14,000 aboriginal children living in remote communities…

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