Aboriginal babies 'being taken from mothers in prison'

ABC | 2nd September 2009

Click for larger image and descriptionA Brisbane conference has heard allegations that, across Australia, 27 Aboriginal children were removed from their families over a 48-hour period.

Debbie Kilroy from Sisters Inside has also told the group's international conference some Indigenous women locked up in mother and babies units in Queensland prisons have had their babies taken away.

Ms Kilroy says there were six instances in Queensland prisons in the past six months, but she is concerned there could have been more.

"Women have to rely on the phone to ring and inform Sisters Inside about this practice and about the trauma," she said.

"If those women don't have those resources, and can't connect with other women who can contact us, they're even more powerless."

But Queensland's Corrective Services Minister Neil Roberts says he is only aware of one case where a child was removed from an Indigenous prisoner, and it was over concern for the child.

He says he would like to hear about any other allegations.

"If people have got those sorts of allegations they need to provide them to Corrective Services or indeed to my office," he said.

"But there may well have been a number of cases where babies have exited the prison system over the last six months that I don't have the detail of, but the advice I've received is the overwhelming majority of those are voluntary."