Calls for Tasmanian children in controversial NT program run by Allan Brahminy to be brought home


Key points:

  • The man who runs the program, Allan Brahminy, has been accused of fabricating his Aboriginal heritage
  • Tasmanian Human Services Minister Roger Jaensch has asked his department to look into allegations
  • It costs Tasmanian taxpayers about $5,000 per week per child, with six Tasmanian kids currently in the NT

There are calls for the Tasmanian Government to bring home six children who are in a controversial program in the Northern Territory.

The program is run by Allan Brahminy, who claims he was abandoned on a riverbank as a baby and adopted by an Aboriginal family.

Yesterday, the ABC revealed allegations from his biological family, former Royal Australian Air Force colleagues and his ex-wife, that Mr Brahminy is not who he says he is.

The Greens Leader Cassy O'Connor said it was an issue of real concern and needed investigating, and that Tasmanian Human Services Minister Roger Jaensch must act.

"We should have the right clinical and therapeutic supports in place for them as children, in the out-of-home care system, so they're close to their communities and close to their families.

"Instead, these children are chucked in the too-hard-basket and banished to the Northern Territory."

Opposition spokesman Josh Willie said Labor had been raising concerns about Mr Brahminy's program for years.

"Labor has long believed that it is completely unacceptable to be shipping Tasmanian kids off to the Northern Territory, instead of caring for them here, where they can be closer to the support of their families," Mr Willie said.

Mr Willie said he wanted to know if Mr Jaensch was aware of allegations Mr Brahminy had lied about his Aboriginal heritage

"Were these allegations examined by the Government's review of the program in 2016?

"The Government must immediately redirect funding to Tasmanian programs and bring these kids home."

A man stands next to a boat
Allan Brahminy has declined to talk to the ABC.(Facebook)

'Department tried to smooth over concerns'

Several more families have contacted the ABC claiming their concerns about Mr Brahminy's program had been dismissed by the Tasmanian Government.

Deborah Charlton represented another north-west mother who wanted her son brought home in 2016.

"We had no oversight of the situation for the young person who was in his [Allan Brahminy's] care at the time," she said.

Ms Charlton was working in the Family Inclusion Network of Tasmania as an advocate and said she questioned Mr Brahminy's qualifications and the level of oversight being provided.

She wasn't satisfied with Child Safety Service's response or the way they treated the child's concerned mother.

"She could not be reassured because she couldn't contact him, she couldn't see him, the child himself was asking to see his mother."

Ms Charlton said, in her view, Tasmanian children who were supposed to be receiving therapeutic care were being retraumatised "by being away from their family, by being in a strange environment."

The Tasmania's Department of Communities said in a statement Mr Brahminy was trained and skilled in the use of Therapeutic Crisis Intervention theory.

Minister directs investigations into allegations

Mr Jaensch issued a statement yesterday afternoon, and said the Government took the concerns of families very seriously.

"In 2017, the program was reviewed independently of Government, and again in December 2019 by Tasmania's Child Advocate, to ensure it is adequately meeting the needs of the young people who engage with it," he said.

"Both reviews concluded it provided a safe environment for young people and is an effective program to support those with exceptionally complex needs."

But Mr Jaensch has agreed to look into the fresh allegations, after calls from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and Amnesty International for an investigation.

Mr Brahminy declined to comment.

Children's Commissioner's oversight limited

In a statement, Children's Commissioner Leanne McLean said the placements were made because no equivalent service of this type was available in Tasmania.

Commissioner for Children and Young People Leanne McLean sits at a desk with a report in her hands.
Tasmania's Children's Commissioner Leanne McLean says she can only monitor children's wellbeing.(ABC News: Mitch Woolnough)

Ms McLean said an important part of her role was to monitor and provide a level of independent, external oversight of Tasmania's out-of-home care system.

But she said it was important to acknowledge she did not have a complaint-handling role.

"My capacity to provide independent oversight of or to monitor the wellbeing of children and young people placed with the program is limited by the fact those children are interstate," she said.

"I cannot directly require a person or organisation outside Tasmania to provide me with information about the way they provide services to, and care for, the children placed with them."

She said she could only monitor the wellbeing of children placed with such service providers through requesting information from the Department of Communities Tasmania, which she had done.

(Source)


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