Apology to Stolen generations welcomed, compensation the next step

\\National environmental justice organisation Friends of the Earth Australia (FoEA) joins with other Australians in welcoming Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations. We believe this is a necessary and significant step in beginning to acknowledge the depth of the impacts of the removal policy on the people who were removed, their families and more broadly their communities.

Apology to Stolen generations welcomed, compensation the next step

February 13, 2008

National environmental justice organisation Friends of the Earth Australia (FoEA) joins with other Australians in welcoming Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations. We believe this is a necessary and significant step in beginning to acknowledge the depth of the impacts of the removal policy on the people who were removed, their families and more broadly their communities.

The apology comes almost 11 years after it was recommended by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in its landmark Bringing them Home report. Sadly, the previous federal government was not prepared to make such an apology. Prime Minister John Howard cited concern that such an action would unfairly imply the guilt and responsibility of present generations who were not involved in the carrying out of removal policies. Thankfully, the new government has responded to the need to apologise.

While differing on the need for an apology, the Rudd Government has followed Howard in rejecting compensation to the Stolen Generations, instead offering resources to address the inequality gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. However this offers nothing of special significance to the Stolen Generations, in that addressing Indigenous disadvantage is a separate and standing responsibility of the government.

We should remember that that the issue of compensation has and is being successfully addressed by some state governments. The Tasmanian government made a commitment in 2006 to compensate Aboriginal Tasmanians removed from their families and has created special legislation, a $5 million fund, and an assessment process which will determine claims by early 2008. Western Australia has also announced a $114 million fund to compensate all children who were abused in state care, including members of the Stolen Generations.

FoEA acknowledges the Rudd government for making this apology and calls on it to also make a commitment to providing compensation to members of the Stolen generations.

 

We also note that many from the Stolen generations did not survive to witness this apology. In particular, we remember Aunty Betty King, Gournditch Mar Yigar-Kerrup Dhautwarrung Elder, who was stolen from her family when she was a young girl. Aunty Betty was a tireless fighter for the rights of the Stolen generations. She is sadly missed. Aunty passed away in early 2006.

 

http://www.foe.org.au/good-news/inspiration/aunty-betty-king-vic/

 

For background information on The Stolen Generations and the need for a national apology, please see the briefing by ANTaR:
http://www.antar.org.au/content/view/112/1/
Thanks to ANTaR for some of the information used in this statement.

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