Government urged again to adopt 1997 Stolen Children recommendations

Government urged again to adopt 1997 Stolen Children recommendations

SBS World News Radio: Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten say it's worth considering financial compensation for members of the Stolen Generations.

It's been 20 years since the landmark Bringing Them Home report was released in 1997.

It brought the forced removal of Aboriginal children, and its intergenerational effects, into the public eye.

Michael Welsh, a Wailwan man from Coonamble, still remembers what was done.

He and his brother were separated from their parents and taken to the notorious Kinchela Boys Home.

"We knew this place was not a good place. When we got there, they stripped us of our clothes, shaved the hair off us, threw powder all over us. Then they took us into a room and handed us some clothes and they told me, Michael, you're no longer Michael, you are now '36', and my brother Barry you are now number 17."

Aboriginal organisations say many of the recommendations in the original 1997 report have still not been realised.

Among them, financial compensation for those who were taken.

Mr Welsh says Stolen Generation families need help to rebuild.

"This is our pain, let us take it. We know how to fix it, let us fix it. And then to come to us with resources, whether it be monetary or whatever it is, but we need the equipment to rebuild our family structure which they took down."

At a 20th anniversary event in Canberra, the Healing Foundation released a new report, reiterating many of the original recommendations.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he'll read it with care.

"As our Stolen Generations members age, your needs are changing. We'll carefully consider the recommendations."

In a show of bipartisanship, opposition leader Bill Shorten was also at the meeting.

He says it's time for the parliament to consider reparations.

"What happened to three and four generations of our first Australians is that children were forcibly removed from their parents. This was a gross violation of human rights. I think it is time for this parliament to discuss reconnection, recovery and reparations."

Western Australian Liberal senator Chris Back says he wouldn't support compensation being paid to the grandchildren of those who were stolen.

But he says the government should support those directly affected.

"If people who were the subject of being removed from their families have still got situations that need to be addressed, be they medical, be they mental health or whatever, then I certainly think it's the role of governments and indeed the institutions to be able to assist them and stay with them."

Besides reparations, the report recommends better mental health services, needs-based funding and new strategies for resolving intergenerational trauma.

 

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