The more reporting that comes out about the Aurukun case, the more questions appear – though no-one is asking them in many of the mainstream media outlets. Here's a few:
- It was initially alleged that the child, having been fostered out to a non-Indigenous family, was returned because two social workers believed that such cross-cultural fostering was 'another stolen generation'. The source for this is one anonymous departmental advisor. The report has not been sighted or directly reported. Quite possibly it's true. Quite possibly it's a frame-up in what was a case with more factors. We don't know. Yet the idea that she was returned because of 'stolen generation' issues has become a received truth.
- Now an SMH report suggests that the girl was so desperate not to go back to her foster family after visting Aurukun for a funeral that she 'jumped out of the car' and refused to leave, the social workers concluding that any removal would have to use physical force to remove her. Strange The Australian, which appears to be all over the case, missed this event that is somewhat inconvenient to their narrative.
- The non-Indigenous foster carers are reported as warning that the girl was offering s-x in exchange for money and cigarettes, even while in their care. Is there then any indication that she would necessarily have been safer in a white and/or mixed community than in Aurukun? The s-xual exploitation of developmentally disabled girls is pretty widespread, as the appalling Werribee 'C-nt the movie' video case demonstrated.
- The Australian alleges it has spoken to the family of the girl in question, principally the uncle and aunt, which raises questions they haven't considered in the news report:
If they are direct family, why weren't they caring for the girl when she was returned to Aurukun? And why aren't there any questions hanging over their care of the girl? Are their comments now a bit of damage control, of which journalists would be more sceptical if the people were white?
If they're not direct family ('uncle' and 'aunt' being terms with multiple meanings in such a situation) why are they being interviewed at all? Is it a case of double-standards based on cultural relativist grounds?
- It's well-known that cross-cultural and cross-racial fostering is difficult for reasons that have nothing to do with 'stolen generation' issues and everything to do with some aspects of human nature most people would like to ignore – like the fact that not everybody can bond effectively with children of a different race, and that people do not always undertake foster care for unambiguously positive reasons. Adoption and fostering practice has been based on this extensively established truth for decades -- indeed the scapegoat treatment that many Aboriginal children received from white families in the 1960s and 70s was one of the reasons such large-scale fostering programs were wound up. Quite likely the foster-carers are good and kind people. But is anyone investigating the foster situation beyond their own words?
- It's also well-known that Aboriginal children fare worse psychologically – compared to white children – when removed from their communities, due to cultural factors related to kinship, community etc. Did the girl's behaviour and state improve when fostered? Or was it the same – or worse -- as is common? It's reported that the girl was suicidal at one stage. Was this during the foster care? Was it related to earlier events in the community or the foster care experience itself? How do all these possibilities relate to her refusal to leave Aurukun?
- Was the girl allowed to remain in the community on undertakings of care from family and community members that they failed to follow through on? We know that some community members - including the girl's father - are claiming that they thought the girl should remain in foster care. Is the father in regular contact, or does he come and go? Are the others the closest relatives? Did others demand her return? Did the mother? Were opinions in the family or the community divided about the girl's return? If we are against special treatment for Aboriginal people, should the bias against breaking up biological families unless absolutely necessary be more laxly applied in these circumstances?
These questions might all be answered in ways that confirm the general line being run. But they might not. The point is they're not being asked or reported.