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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Judge John Riley and his controversial views on aboriginal justice

I have just read a fascinating article from Australia from Carole Zufferey on the nature of privilege that inherently exists for social workers who are white. She reflects on her own career and concludes:

This is a beginning attempt to reflect on my own white power and privilege in my role as a professional social worker in a statutory context that intervenes in the protection of children, which included removing children from their families as a result of abuse or neglect.
In Australia, the child protection system engaged in gathering up aboriginal children in large numbers. She describes:

Furthermore, Aboriginal protectionist and assimilation legislation and policies were enacted in state jurisdictions, commencing with the Victorian Aboriginal Protection Act 1869. These policies resulted in the systematic removal of up to 100,000 Aboriginal children from their families into public institutions and missions across Australia, up until the 1970s, creating what is now referred to as the Stolen Generations.

In Canada, we had a similar program which came to be known as the Sixties Scoop. This resulted in large numbers of children being removed from aboriginal homes and then placed into the homes of white families. Even today, aboriginal children are dramatically over represented in child welfare systems in Canada.

In a recent talk, former Judge John Reilly raises the notion that we may simply have it wrong when we think about social justice and crime. Speaking in Calgary, he puts forward his ideas which can be seen via YouTube from his TedxCalgary presentation. You can see it at

Judge John Reilly speaking at TedxCalgary


Zufferey, C. (2012). 'Not knowing that I do not know and not wanting to know: Reflections of a white Australian social worker. International Social Work, In Press.

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