The NSW government will offer survivors of the Stolen Generation financial compensation as part of a reparation package worth more than $73 million.
By
Laura Morelli

Source:
NITV News
2 Dec 2016 - 10:14 AM  UPDATED 2 Dec 2016 - 3:48 PM

The reparations scheme offering one-off payments to survivors is in order to address the trauma and harm from forced removal of Aboriginal children by providing a reparations package

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Leslie Williams says the package is a healing fund to address intergenerational trauma caused by historical government practices.

“With this response, the NSW Government officially acknowledges the real and heartbreaking trauma caused by historic government policies and practices of removing Aboriginal children from their kin and country,” Mrs Williams said.

“The Premier I will establish a Stolen Generations advisory committee to ensure our response is implemented swiftly, effectively and respectfully but most importantly in partnership with Aboriginal people.

"Are they going to give me back my culture? Are they going to give me back my language?"

Mrs Williams, who delivered an apology to the Stolen Generations in June, says the NSW Government’s response goes beyond mere words, and shows support.

“A Stolen Generations reparations scheme will offer payments to survivors without the need for a lengthy and arduous legal process and a $5 million Stolen Generations healing fund will seek to address the impacts of trauma not only for survivors but also for their families, descendants and communities,” she said.

"It's good - anything is good, as long as it can make us keep going forward with our journey."

“It is my sincerest hope that by acknowledging the wrongs of the past and providing enduring and meaningful support for the future, we can avoid such a tragedy ever being repeated.”

A funeral fund of up to $7000 and a healing fund will also be in the package.

However, Richard Campbell, a member of the Stolen Generations who was held at the notorious boy's home at Kinchela, says it is too late to fix the past.

"Are they going to give me back my culture? Are they going to give me back my language?" he said on ABC radio.

But fellow Kinchela survivor James Michael Welsh, who is involved with the healing foundation, has a very different view and believes the package, will be a great help.

"It's good - anything is good, as long as it can make us keep going forward with our journey."

Link-Up Aboriginal Corporation was founded in 1980 to assist 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.

Anaiwan man and CEO of Link-Up (NSW), Terry Chenery, says the announcement is wonderful news.

“It’s long overdue and it’s pleasing to see action put into place nearly 20 years after the Bringing Them Home Report was tabled,” Mr Chenery said.

“We’re also very excited about the fact that extra funding has been discussed for Link-Up (NSW) to continue to help people affected by the forced removal policies.  Any assistance the NSW Government can provide to get longer than one year funding is appreciated.”

While the reparations scheme has been warmly welcomed, it’s also opened doors for other vital funding to be put in place.

“I also call on the government to increase the funding to the Family Record Service of Aboriginal Affairs, to ensure that claimants have equal opportunity to access records that assist their claims without undue delay,” Mr Chenery said.

Mr Chenery thanks all members of the GPSC3 Committee but said the efforts of Jan Barham, a Greens parliamentarian who chaired the inquiry, should not go unnoticed. Despite the good news, he also said reconnecting to culture after all that has happened wouldn't be a simple task.  

“Whilst we acknowledge the significant financial allocation from the government, the loss of culture, connection to family and land will continue and need to be addressed for many years to come, requiring significant long term funding on top of this announcement," he said.

"This is an historical announcement but we must ensure the lessons we learned from the Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme are not lost.  There must be adequate resources put into the administration of the reparation scheme to ensure members of the Stolen Generation are part of the process and get looked after well beyond the financial component of the scheme is finalised: we need to remember what injustice and trauma was inflicted on our people and never lose sight of that just because they were financially compensated.”

"We must also remember that many of the Stolen Generation have already passed away and will not benefit from this but the intergenerational trauma continues for so many, those who have gone before us would like to see long term change and improvements for their descendants.  We will work with the NSW Government any way we can to make this happen."

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Stolen Generations Facts:

  • In NSW, under the Aborigines Protection Act 1909, the Aborigines Welfare Board had wide-ranging control over the lives of Aboriginal people, including the power to remove children from their families under a policy of assimilation. This policy was enacted until the Aborigines Protection Act was repealed in 1969.
  • The four independent organisations formed by NSW Stolen Generations survivors are the Cootamundra Girls’ Aboriginal Corporation, Kinchela Boys’ Home Aboriginal Corporation, Children of the Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home Incorporated and NSW/ACT Stolen Generations Council.
  • These initiatives will be developed in consultation with Stolen Generations Organisations in early 2017 and will commence by 1 July 2017.
  • Ongoing direct financial support for these Stolen Generations Organisations will be provided over the next ten years.
  • The NSW Premier and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs will establish a Stolen Generation Advisory Committee including representatives from the Stolen Generations Organisations.
  • Child removals had individual and widespread impacts on families and communities - children separated from their parents suffered trauma, as did their parents, siblings, grandparents and extended family members. This trauma has been passed down to their descendants and continues to be felt today.
  • The NSW Government will establish a grant-based Stolen Generations Healing Fund, supported by $5 million over 10 years, to fund healing activities, including healing centres, keeping places and memorials.
  • The NSW Government will establish a Stolen Generations Funeral Fund, providing payments of up to $7000 to assist with the costs of funeral for members of the Stolen Generations.
  • The NSW Government will work with Aboriginal organisations to identify records that may assist survivors and descendants in proof of Aboriginality, as well as streamlining access to Aborigines Welfare Board records and establishing a new ongoing role – Aboriginal Research Historian.

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