A Wiradjuri mother of two Aboriginal children in state care has expressed fears she won't see her kids for months and that they may be exposed to COVID-19, ahead of an approved flight to England with their foster family.
Community members are calling on the New South Wales government to stop two Aboriginal children boarding a flight to England, saying no consideration was given to the biological family or the children's Wiradjuri heritage.
Speaking with NITV News, the distressed mother said she was only told about the travel arrangements on Thursday. She said she then waited three hours for a visit with her children, only to be told by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) they "couldn't be found".
On Friday she said her contact visit was denied because of the risk of contracting COVID-19, but that was later rescinded. She said that she was granted a face-to-face visit without physical contact Friday afternoon, hours before they were expected to board a flight.
"In my eyes... they’ve more or less kidnapped my children," the mother said.
"I don’t want my children leaving Australia, but there’s nothing I can do. They might get sick."
In a statement, a spokesperson for the NSW DCJ said it could not comment on individual child protection matters.
A ban on Australian citizens travelling overseas came into effect earlier this week, but exemptions are made for permanent residents from other countries and under certain circumstances.
NITV News understands the trip was approved on compassionate grounds because the children, aged 11 and 10, wanted to travel with their foster mother, who is returning to England to be with her husband.
But Aboriginal family advocacy group Grandmother's Against Removals (GMAR) said it was "disgraceful" that no consideration was being made for the children's biological family and community.
"The bottom line is these are Aboriginal children. They're Australian citizens," said GMAR's Hazel Collins.
"To me it’s devastating. This is a pandemic, what happens if something happens to mum or some of her family while these children are away? They won't be able to get back.
"I am absolutely beside myself with this, I can't imagine how the mother feels."
The children's mother said she had family members in New South Wales who had put up their hand to care for her children.
"These are my babies. I want them to stop my children from going to England," she said.