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E49: Indigenous Family Law Courts

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On the Show Today You’ll Learn

On this episode, Ben and Heather are joined by two special guests to discuss the growth of specialist Indigenous family courts, known as Indigenous List.  Retired Federal Circuit Court Judge Robyn Sexton started the very first Indigenous List in Sydney in 2014.  Rick Welsh is proud Murrawarri man and coordinator of The Shed suicide prevention centre focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, now seconded to the Kincella Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC).  These two worked together to design and implement a specialist Indigenous family law court.  Together they discuss the following:

  1. What is the Indigenous List?
  2. Why is there a need for a separate court process?
  3. How was the Indigenous community engaged with the set-up of the court?
  4. Are kin carers treated differently on the Indigenous List than in regular family court?
  5. Local experiences with the Indigenous List in Coffs Harbour and Lismore.
  6. What services are available to First Nations litigants other than those provided by the courts?
  7. How is the introduction of the Indigenous List impacting First Nations families?

Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode

OUR KIDS: a short film that helps illustrates how the Indigenous List can operate

LINK-UP (NSW) Aboriginal Corporation: assists all Aboriginal people who had been directly affected by past government policies; being separated from their families and culture through forced removal, being fostered, adopted or raised in institutions.

ABORIGINAL & TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER FAMILIES & THE COURT: this section of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website provides general information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about the Family Court.

INDIGENOUS LISTS: this section of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia website provides specific information about the Indigenous List, including where and when the List is operating.

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Full Episode Transcript

Before today’s show we would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we are recording and the lands of our Indigenous Listeners and the lands of the two guests on today’s show.  We also pay our respects to elders past and present.

WELCOME!  Indigenous Family Law Courts

Benjamin Bryant: Welcome to episode 49, I’m Benjamin Bryant from Bryant McKinnon Lawyers and I’m back with my partner Heather McKinnon after a one-month break. Are you happy to be back?

Heather McKinnon: Absolutely Ben I love doing this and today I’ve got some really special friends so it’s really exciting.

Benjamin Bryant: It’s certainly great to have your friends here and it’s such an important topic today, Heather. We’re going to be talking about separation and divorce for Indigenous Australians. There is a growing recognition that court, particularly the family law court, presents unique difficulties for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Steps have been taken to ameliorate these difficulties with the establishment of an Indigenous Court, or what’s known as the Indigenous List, and we’ll get into plenty of detail about that in today’s show.

Benjamin Bryant: But meanwhile, let me introduce the two people who were instrumental in setting up Sydney’s Indigenous List, which was the precursor of the Indigenous List, which the court has now rolled out to 11 locations, including Lismore and Coffs Harbour. First, let’s welcome retired Federal Circuit Court Judge Robyn Sexton, a practising family lawyer for over two decades, Robyn was appointed as a federal magistrate of the Federal Magistrate’s Court, as it was called in 2004. After ten years on the bench, seeing very few Indigenous cases, Judge Sexton presided over a case where an Indigenous grandmother was asking for sole parental responsibility for her six grandchildren. This was a game changer for Robyn, who became convinced that the courts were missing the opportunity to keep the Indigenous children with their own kin. In 2014, Judge Sexton started the Sydney Indigenous List, dedicating one day per month to running her court in a culturally sensitive way for Aboriginal family law cases. Robyn retired in 2018, but her legacy lives on. The Indigenous List is now in 11 locations across the country.

What an honour to have you with us today. Welcome, Robyn.

Robyn Sexton: Thank you. Ben. I’m delighted to be here.

Benjamin Bryant: And we are doubly blessed today because we have another guest, someone who was instrumental in designing the Indigenous Court with Robyn. Rick Welsh is a proud Murrawarri man. He grew up on the Block in Redfern and has dedicated his career to providing culturally safe spaces for Aboriginal people.

Benjamin Bryant: He was one of the coordinators of The Shed in Mount Druitt. Originally set up in 2004 as a suicide prevention centre focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, The Shed evolved to an open-door approach, providing culturally safe support for a wide range of needs, including legal issues. When Robyn Sexton set out to create an Indigenous Court in the Sydney registry, she turned to Rick to engage with the community to understand what needed to be done to create a culturally and socially supportive environment for Indigenous people. For his work, Rick was awarded the New South Wales 2017 Aboriginal Justice Award. He sat on the Law Society of New South Wales Indigenous Issues Committee and was the only non-judicial member of the Federal Circuit Court’s Reconciliation Action Plan Committee. Welcome, Rick. Thank you for joining us.

Rick Welsh: Yaama. It’s a great pleasure being here.

Benjamin Bryant: Well, I’m eager to dive into today’s topic, but just before we get started, I need to do my usual reminder to listeners to share this show with friends and family starting down the path of separation or divorce. And obviously in the case of this episode, particularly any friends, family or kin who are Indigenous.

What is the Indigenous List and why was it established?

Benjamin Bryant: Let’s get going. Robyn, you are the architect of the Indigenous List in Sydney. Can you please explain to our listeners what the Indigenous List is, and what prompted a busy federal Circuit court judge to establish the list?

Robyn Sexton:  Yes Ben. We’d done a lot of work at the court trying to engage with community as we were trying to improve access to the family law system by Indigenous people. We’d gone out to community. We’d given a lot of talks. We’d had community back into the court. We’d had events including Governor Marie Bashir coming one day to speak to the people gathered, but we still weren’t getting the cases. And I had a few theories about why this was happening. The court is a very intimidating environment. You walk into the building itself and its white marble and it’s most unwelcoming. So, it would hardly be a place you would choose to go. There were no Indigenous staff members to welcome anyone or to reassure anyone coming in. There was no flag in the foyer, and there was very little information out there in the Indigenous community about what family law was all about. And Aboriginal people traditionally have been very frightened of courts because courts have locked them up and locked up their children, and also taken their children away. So why would an Aboriginal person come to a court willingly? That’s when I realised that we had to do things quite differently. We needed to make the courtroom a much more culturally sensitive place.

Robyn Sexton: So, the aim was, in setting up the List, was to create a very different courtroom. An environment in the courtroom in which Indigenous voices could be heard and listened to properly. We were trying to keep Indigenous children safe and healthy within their own family and community. We wanted to give them their best chance to stay connected to culture, to avoid the probable consequences of a childhood in out-of-home care. Risk of abuse in out-of-home care placements. Poor physical and mental health maladjustments. Risk of chronic school absence, entry to the juvenile, and then later the adult prison system. That was our aim. So, we were designing it. We were trying to design a space where Aboriginal people could come and really feel respected. So that was our aim in setting up the Indigenous List. We had no idea whether it would work or not. And that’s where Rick came in. I will talk to you a bit later about the features of the List but think this is a good point for Rick to come in and explain what he did then to help me reach Aboriginal communities in the Sydney region. All over Sydney, really. And in fact, in the end, it was all over New South Wales.

How were the local Aboriginal communities involved in the design of the Indigenous List?

Rick Welsh:  How are you going? It’s Rick here. It was a little bit easier than people may assume, because as an Aboriginal suicide prevention service or an Aboriginal targeted suicide prevention service, what we found, particularly at Western Sydney, is that we would have Aboriginal people come to the shed with what DCJ, or FACs at the time, were calling safe community or safety plans. And these safety plans were basically the last point before children were being removed. So, what we would do is we’d sit down, and we had an absolutely fantastic lawyer by the name of Mary Gleason, who used to be a legal aid lawyer, she used to attend the shed on a weekly basis. And what we found is that people would come in with these safety plans. And then Mary started to say, look, you can actually go to the family law courts if you can find the safe family members. I’ve very much grown up as an Aboriginal person, we always knew that there was this safe family member in our families. I’ll give you a bit of a description, in general is, it may be somebody that doesn’t have kids themselves but looks after other people’s children. this could be male or female. More often than not, they were females. quite often we’d call them the cranky aunty because I’d sit there and I would, I would say to the people, I’d say, look who’s somebody in your family that generally if you’re doing the wrong thing or if you’re in a relationship with domestic violence or substance abuse or both, or whatever it may be, who’s the one in your family that has a go at you that gets cranky with you because you’re living in the way that you are? And then they’d generally say a name.

Rick Welsh: That’s just the reality of it. They’d just say a name, oh that’s aunty this or uncle that. And then I’d just be called, and I’d just say, okay then what’s their number? Let’s give him a call because we might need them to help you out, because otherwise we don’t want to see your children be removed. You want to see them with somebody who’s safe. That could pass all the safety tests that DCJ would be able to dish out. and then quite often, they’d name them, I’d say, oh, you know, somebody who hasn’t been in custody, somebody that’s not having wild parties at their houses, interacting with the police often. And people could just pin it down. They’d literally pin it down to somebody and be able to name them. And then I’d be asking for their phone numbers, and I’d just call them cold and say, oh, look, this is what’s going on, you know, with the consent of the clients. and then we’d sort of get together, we’d talk generally over the phone, even if they were in country areas, and then we’d sort out some legal advice for generally the safe or the safe uncle safe kinship relative.

Rick Welsh: And then we’d get them involved. So that way we’d minimise the child from being removed and put into the New South Wales care system, which is not a not a very safe system at all. so it wasn’t that difficult. And once we started doing it with the Aboriginal network, once we were doing it to people in Western Sydney and we were assisting them to get into the List, they would be telling their relatives from wherever they come from. So, we might be getting phone calls from Bourke or Tweed Heads or Coffs Harbour, the South Coast. Then we’d start getting calls from all over the place, which basically helped feed into the List.

What are the features of the Indigenous court system?

Robyn Sexton: Maybe I could add there, you asked Ben what actually is the Indigenous List? And I could just briefly describe its features because it is different. And I think it’s important that one of the reasons that Rick was able to get matters into the court and that people would stay, applicants wouldn’t drop out and they’d remain with it, is because of the features we introduced, which were very different from a normal court. And those of you who’ve been in a normal List in a family law system would know that it’s like a kicked over ant farm in the courtroom. Well, we changed that completely. So, I’ll just outline what the features were.

Robyn Sexton: Any litigant, whether applicant or respondent, could go into the List. We had Indigenous art on display, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags stood prominently behind me. And now the judge who’s there now. Indigenous workers from various support agencies would attend the court. So, there was always Indigenous faces and people from Indigenous services there to welcome people and to reassure them. And if they wanted to come into court with them, that was fine. I didn’t sit up on the bench. I came down and sat at the bar table with the parties. Anyone who was involved with that particular child was invited into the court, whether they were parties or not. So, I might have a grandma or an aunt, an uncle, a grandpa, might have a very crowded bar table. But we’d sit down there, I would always acknowledge country at the beginning of every matter, and then I would introduce myself and get everyone to introduce themselves around the table. So, we’d have a yarning session. And then in an inquisitorial sort of style we would work out what was going on for this particular child or children, and we’d discuss what might be the best way forward. So, the family were very involved mainly I would ask questions and I might suggest solutions and raise issues that might be acceptable to the family. And it was amazing how often we were able to resolve matters like that. And even members of family who weren’t getting on often were getting on by the end of the hearing. So, we only had one matter in the courtroom at any one time, which is very different from normal. We gave people privacy, and we didn’t push them through. We gave them time. So, we’d have very much fewer matters in the court on that day than a normal day. We might have 25 on a List day in Sydney. In the Indigenous List I’d always want under ten, so I could deal with each party separately. We had tremendous help from the legal aid service, from ALS, from the early intervention service at the court. So, anyone who wanted to be represented was represented, and most people were. But I think when Aboriginal people realised that they were being listened to and they were heard, I think that message went back out to community. Rick and Mary were tremendous in reassuring people about the system. But of course, in family law, it’s a private law jurisdiction. So, individuals bring matters to court. The police don’t bring the matters. The department don’t bring the matters like in the children’s court or the criminal court. And so, this was a very, very new way of doing things for Aboriginal people. They had to actually file an application and initiate an application and come into court.

Robyn Sexton: But the beauty of it was we were finding we were getting very good feedback. We didn’t always obviously agree with everyone who came into the courtroom. That wouldn’t happen because I’d have to make a decision. But people still felt they were heard and that the decision I made was reasonable based on what I had heard. And I would explain why I would have to do what I was going to do because of various dysfunctions within the family. But we were all the time looking for a person who could take care of the child, even on an interim basis, who was safe, mentally, physically and culturally. And that’s where Rick was so helpful, because I obviously had no connections to speak of in the Aboriginal community. But he did. He knew everyone, was well networked and it meant the word got out.

Why a separate Indigenous court rather than modifying the existing court?

Benjamin Bryant: Well, thank you both for those responses. And thank you, Rick, for the cranky aunt analogy. I’ll be using that in my daily practice. The Family Law Act, of course, already had a provision in there about children having a right to enjoy their culture. Perhaps you can speak to why a separate court, and why not just perhaps modifications to the existing court weren’t sufficient.

Robyn Sexton: Well, I suppose it was a modification. It was a fairly drastic modification. And believe me, other judges frowned on it for a bit, saying, what are you doing? But I think it’s true, there is a factor in the best interest provisions of the act that require us to look at the cultural connections for children and allow them to go on and remain connected to their culture. But what was the point of all that if there were no Indigenous people coming into the court? We had so few cases. I think I might have mentioned to you off air that I ran a case for an Aboriginal grandmother who came to court seeking residence of her six grandchildren, all of the same parents who were being neglected by their parents. There was family violence, drugs, alcohol, you name it, the children were not being cared for adequately at all. And this grandmother went and collected them from a country town and brought them back to Sydney, put them in her little, tiny Housing Commission flat, and brought an application to the court for parental responsibility and residence. That case ran before me for two years and had a huge impact on me, and I think in many ways was the trigger that caused me to look at things differently and work out a way we might be able to attract more people like her and make the whole system much easier. Because for two years she came in and we had many interim hearings. The department was against her, so it was a very strongly fought case. But in the end, those children remained with the grandmother. And that’s when I thought there must be hundreds and hundreds of cases out there like this. And they’re not coming to us. Why aren’t they coming to us? And that’s why I made this, this different system. We weren’t going to save the world, but we were hopefully going to save a few children.

Heather McKinnon: Robyn, I just want to bring back one of the cases that I came down to Sydney to be involved in as a lawyer for the little Indigenous kids in the family group, and that intimidation of that building in Goulburn Street. I mean, I’m from the country and it freaks me out. I walk in there and there are all the lawyers, all in their black suits and their jewellery and everything, and I feel totally intimidated. And what was great about the court that you and Rick set up, I remember going upstairs and some of the cranky aunts were sitting down in the hallway, and I took my shoes off and sat on the ground for the day with them. And I thought, this is what it should be like in the bush for all kids matters, not just for Indigenous kids. And it was fascinating, as Rick said on that day, the cranky aunties worked with the two sides of the family, and they really were able to drill down on what was best for the kids. I think those little ones were sort of eight, six and four, and it was fascinating to see everyone come to a consensus decision. But it was slowing it down, grounding everybody and getting people to actually look at the kids, not just what was going on with the conflict between both sides I will never forget that day because I thought, this is how we should be working in the bush generally, not just in the Indigenous List in Sydney, because if I’m intimidated, imagine what it’s like for a young mum or dad from Brewarrina to come into Goulburn Street. It’s ridiculous. So that stayed with me, that memory, it was life changing for me. But I reckon take your shoes off and sit on the ground’s a good start.

Robyn Sexton: I’m with you, I’m with you.

What was the impact of the Indigenous court process for Aboriginal participants?

Rick Welsh: I was just going to add as well, I think, with what Robyn was saying, it’s very much because I was both in the courtroom and outside the courtroom and being a non-lawyer people were always coming out and telling me that they actually feel heard. And I think a big, important part of it is that Robyn was very much taking an inquisitorial approach, because generally it’s just the lawyers that do all the talking. But when she was just sitting there and she’s actually asking the family members about, what’s going on and what sort of strategies that they’ve got or how do they think things should work. People were actually outside the courtroom with me, and they’d be crying, saying that they actually felt heard in a courtroom They’d go in scared, and then once they would see how it was, because then the argument would be taken, or the disputes would be taken away between adults. And Robyn would just sort of lay it down and say, well, wait there, we’re here about the child or the children and that’s what we need to be focused on. That’d change the dynamic of any of those disputes. and I think people actually walked out of the courtroom feeling empowered with the way that it was, sort of panning out for people. It wasn’t what they were expecting. And that sort of stuff actually spreads quickly between family members and, you know, oh, wow, there’s this judge. She’s actually acknowledging that they’re on country, all this stuff. And about getting that voice and being able to talk, sit there and talk as a family member. we’d see people change. And I think the other part of it is that the parents felt loved and supported where they weren’t doing too good. They actually felt loved and supported, and they just knew that they had to do things to try and find their feet again and get back to doing things a little bit better and keeping the kids safe, because through all these court cases, it’s always about the child winning. It’s not about the parents winning or mum or dad or uncle or auntie. It’s got to be about the child winning. And people could see that that was coming out. the parents were changing, the family dynamics were changing, and the children were coming out and going back to situations where they’re more culturally embedded. And one of the other benefits that we found is that both sides of the family were getting to see the grandchildren. And when we talk about Nans and Pops, quite often there are separations, one set of grandparents and one parent may generally not see the child. But, going through this stuff, it’s much more cultured, and it suits Aboriginal culture more where we could have that sort of sitting down and discussing things. And I think it’s absolutely fantastic in the way it works.

Are kin carers treated differently in the Indigenous court, versus regular family court?

Benjamin Bryant: And, Robyn, I’m going to ask you to talk to us about kinship carers and their particular importance in Indigenous culture. As a judge in the Indigenous Court would you look upon a child’s grandparents, aunts, uncles or other kin carers differently than you may in the regular family court?

Robyn Sexton: I don’t suppose I looked at them differently, in the sense that obviously everyone gets considered in the usual way. If they’re useful to the child or they’re not useful to the child, they’re value added to the child’s life or not. But the difference is really that kinship is so important for Aboriginal culture, in my experience. And the beauty of the cranky auntie theory that Rick introduced, and placing a child with a member of the family meant they were culturally connected to their own nation, their own country, their own mob. That’s the strength of kinship, that they’re in their own mob. And that’s where I found applications by these cranky aunties, as Rick calls them. But it could be an aunty an uncle or grandpa or grandma, whoever. Part of that child’s actual culture. Terribly important for the child’s future, because we know that if children have their identity interrupted or destroyed, they’re going to be very lost when they get older. And that’s what we see with these kids going into maybe perfectly good homes, but they’re completely separated from culture, and they are 15, 16 and they realise it and they go off the rails and we see them in juvenile justice and later in the adult system. It’s important for all children to know their background and their identity. And the beauty of this was we could keep families together. We would be aiming all the time to get the parents to get their act together, to address their issues and keep the children with their auntie, or whoever was the applicant, temporarily while the parties had a chance to address the issues they faced because we’d want the children back with their parents if we possibly could achieve that, and we’d say that so they had some hope.

Robyn Sexton: And the beauty of the family law system is that I could keep people on a fairly short leash for quite a long time, while I got them back in to see how they were progressing. Bit like the drug court, I think, where you keep an eye on people. And I could keep an eye on people, and I could keep them there as long as I wanted to. There were no time constraints on the case, so therefore we saw a lot of reconciliation with parents over time because they were able to address their issues. And the kinship process, having the kinship as central to the whole process, meant that parents, for example, even dysfunctional parents, could see their children through the process. We wouldn’t cut them off from contact. We might have contact supervised but it would be regular because we’d know the children need to see their parents, even if they are dysfunctional, even if they’re drunks and drug addicts, they are their parents and children need to see their parents. So as long as they were safe, with the aunts supervising or grandpa supervising, or if necessary, a formal service supervising, they would keep in touch. And that meant when we could organise reconciliation, we hadn’t wrecked those relationships. I mean you take a six-month-old baby away from its mother for three months. They don’t just go back and say hello, mummy. Not that they can talk, but they wouldn’t if they could. Because you’ve severed that attachment. We didn’t want to do that. That’s where kin were so important because the kin would recognise the need for that and support it.

What’s the local experience with the Indigenous List in Coffs Harbour and Lismore?

Benjamin Bryant: And Heather starting in January 2023. The courts are operating an Indigenous List in Lismore and Coffs Harbour. What has been your experience with the specialist court list?

Heather McKinnon: Well, I think what Rick and I were talking about off air, there’s currently recruitment happening for Indigenous psychologists, which is going to be a fantastic change. We’ve had one Indigenous psych expert in Australia called Stephen Ralph, who we were lucky to work with early on in our career on the North Coast. But from early this year there are Indigenous lawyers and paralegals helping coordinate this List on the North Coast. One of the cases that I’m involved in involves an Indigenous man who was second or third generation from a removal case, and he had been completely disconnected from where he was from. And a government agency has been appointed by the judge to help him trace where he’s from and to get some elder recognition of what happened to his family two and three generations ago. That work’s coming back into us, as the people working on the case, so that the children have a very clear theoretical sense now of their family of origin and where they’re from and where their grandparents on both sides came from. And then we’re going to work towards looking at how we maintain that so that we try and heal some of the dislocation that’s happened on the North Coast. Here we’ve got, as Rick was talking about, one of the worst incidents of child abuse that came through the royal commission at the Kinchela Boys Home in Kempsey. We also have a lot of the clean outs of the missions that happened in Moree, around Armidale, Glen Innes, Tamworth. A lot of those mission clear outs meant that people were removed from country and put onto the coast around Coffs. So, we’ve got a lot of representatives here of a number of mobs right through northern New South Wales. And kids were completely dislocated from country and where they were from. We’ve got a lot of healing being done here and there’s some brilliant work being done. We’ve got a school called the Freedom School in Coffs, which is the first bilingual language school where the first kids that started in pre-school are now in year six. That restoration of language, restoration of kinship, clan groups and history are helping in each of the cases we’ve got in the Indigenous List. Because once you reintroduce kids to that identity properly, then you’ve got a plan as to what’s the court going to do to ensure that both parents maintain those links. So, we start to repair some of the dislocation. So, I would hope that as we move forward, some of these kids that we’re seeing in the Lists in Northern New South Wales will get access to the sort of stuff that Rick and Robyn started in Sydney over ten years ago.

What other services are available to First Nations litigants?

Benjamin Bryant: That’s right, Heather. We have been talking about specifically what the court has been doing. Rick, would you be able to tell us what services may be available for First Nations litigants other than what is provided by the court?

Rick Welsh: Oh, look, what we generally do is myself, I would use the Aboriginal networks that I have. So, we’d use the things like the Aboriginal medical services. And I’ve got to say they’re an absolute treasure. You look at Aboriginal medical services, they usually have a social, emotional or mental health unit. They have social workers, but also drug and alcohol workers as well. So, they’re able to sort of link to a lot of those therapeutic needs. And quite often we’d build relationships with services. You know, I’m 50 years old now, so I’m getting a bit long in the tooth. So, we’ve built a lot of relationships. We’ve got some fantastic psychologists out there that are really culturally competent working with Aboriginal people., family therapist. there are different experts out there that sort of willingly work with the Aboriginal community because they have an awareness of the trauma that’s embedded in our community. And quite often we’d link to services and what we’d find is the non-Aboriginal services that wanted to work with Aboriginal people. So, when I was at the shed, and I’m at an organisation called Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation on a 12-month secondment, but at the shed we had two staff and 28 active partnerships where we’d have everything from mental health to drug and alcohol to financial counsellors. So that way we were able to get people the support and wraparound services that they needed. Because quite often those non-Indigenous services were trying to engage Aboriginal people, but they just couldn’t quite do it. So, what we would do is bring them to the shed, and we’re going to do the same thing at Kinchela Boys Home, is where they’re going to be able to come into an Aboriginal safe space. Those services can do outreach to the Aboriginal safe space, and then we can work collaboratively with those services to ensure retained engagement and better outcomes for our mob.

What has been the impact of the Indigenous List?

Benjamin Bryant: And finally, Robyn and Rick, I just wanted to ask you. So, you’ve been involved in the design and the implementation of the very first Indigenous Court and here we are now years later being rolled out across 11 locations and hopefully nationally one day. What’s your thoughts on that, Robyn?

Robyn Sexton: Well, I think the Indigenous List in family law is one practical initiative to address the tremendously disproportionate number of children in out-of-home care who are Indigenous. You’ve got something like nearly ten times the chance of going into out-of-home care as an Indigenous child, as you have as a non-Indigenous child. So, the stats are terrible, and we know the stats in jails are terrible. I think this is one practical initiative, one tool that we can use to help some families, some children. It’s obviously not a magic bullet. There’s so much to be done in so many different areas, but I do believe that it’s a tool that’s working. And I think the court now recognises that, which is why they’re putting some resources into this at last. I mean, we started with absolutely no resources at all. The people, the Aboriginal people who came to the court were all working for their own various agencies. There was no additional funding at all for us. So now that’s changed, and resources are being given to the Indigenous area. The Chief Justice supports it strongly. And that’s why these Lists are rolling out. I don’t think they would be if they didn’t think it was making a difference.

Benjamin Bryant: And Rick, final thoughts.

Rick Welsh: Oh, look, I’ve got to say, I think Robyn’s made a big change for not just the court, but also for the Aboriginal community by establishing the Indigenous List. I think it took somebody who was very different and just didn’t want to, I suppose, just as the saying goes, don’t want to sit up and eat Weet-Bix every morning. They need to have a change. And I think Robyn’s initiative in by that she’s done this, I think it’s going to be a game changer for a long time. And I think that, now that it’s rolled out across 11 places, and there’s going to be a few more soon, is an absolute legacy to Robyn and the hard work and wanting to do things differently to achieve better outcomes for Indigenous people. And I think she’s successfully done that.

Benjamin Bryant: Well said.

Goodbye for now…

Benjamin Bryant: Well, what an informative and powerful show. Thank you, Robyn and Rick, for sharing your experiences with us today.

Rick Welsh: Thank you.

Robyn Sexton: Thank you. Ben.

Rick Welsh: It was an opportunity. Thank you very much for getting the opportunity to talk on your podcast. It’s greatly appreciated.

Benjamin Bryant: You’re more than welcome. Thank you so much for being with us.

Robyn Sexton:  Am I allowed to mention one more thing?

Benjamin Bryant: Of course you can.

Robyn Sexton: I meant to mention it. There’s a little film that we had made called Our Kids and Our Kids is a very short little film, a dramatised documentary with two narratives, one main narrative and a very short narrative, on how the Indigenous List works. Using an example of a case, an auntie helping a child. And I think it’s well worth watching. And I think if people could have access to that little film, it would really help fully explain what we’ve been talking about this morning.

Benjamin Bryant: Absolutely. We’ll definitely make sure we include the link to that film in our show notes and that film is just going to be another great resource for our Indigenous community.

Benjamin Bryant: Next month, we are privileged to be talking to the Honourable Colin Forrest, a judge with the Family Court of Australia from 2011 to 2021. Colin now mediates and arbitrates family law matters. We will be discussing how mediators and arbitrators recognise and deal with power imbalances and domestic violence concerns. It is an important topic and we’re delighted to have such a distinguished guest to help us tackle it. If you have any questions about mediation and arbitration in situations of power imbalance, please email us on familymatters@bryantmckinnon.com.au or message us on Facebook. We will put a link to any resources mentioned in today’s show on Indigenous divorce in the show notes on our website. And as always, remember to share this show with family and friends who may benefit. We hope to have

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