Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts Is Fighting To Ensure First Nations Children Remain With Their Families

Content warning: while this article does not mention the names of any First Nations People no longer living, the podcast does. We advise to proceed listening with caution.

Proud Bundjalung Widubul-Wiabul woman Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts was taken away from her family when she was 10 and a half years old.

To this day, she remembers every detail of the moment police and a First Nations Peoples caseworker knocked on the front door.

Listen now:

“I’m so sorry, big girl, but they’re coming to get you,” Vanessa’s father said to her with absolutely no control of the situation.

From that moment, Vanessa went on to living with more than a dozen different foster families before she was older enough at 18 to return home to country.

Vanessa says in her experience “the solen generation hasn’t stopped and it happened to me”.

Wanting to ensure this doesn’t happen to any more First Nations People, Vanessa went on to complete her law and social work degrees with first class honours.

In this week’s The Weekend Briefing, Vanessa speaks with Jamila Rizvi to explain the importance of telling the stories of First Nations children who have ended up in the foster care system and grown up away from their families, culture, and land.

Tearing children from their families is a system that is always going to fail, and it doesn’t fail on the system,” Vanessa explains.

“The person it fails the most is that child, because then that child is the one that has to go through all those different foster placements that child is the one that has to 18 and decide what is my life right now? 

“We’re denying cultural accessibility when we’re denying the fundamental pillars of self-determination for our people. And this is happening every single day.”

If you are a First Nations person in need of support, there are resources available:

24/7 support line for First Nations people:  13 Yarn – 13 9276

Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Subscribe to The Briefing, Australia’s fastest-growing news podcast on Listnr today. The Briefing serves up the latest news headlines and a deep dive into a topic affecting you. All in under 20 minutes.