A warning that this story uses the name of an Aboriginal person who has passed.
Twelve years after Kevin Rudd’s National Apology and more than two decades after the ‘Bringing them Home’ report was tabled, the Victorian government has announced a $10 million redress scheme for survivors of the state’s Stolen Generations and their families.
Premier Daniel Andrews and State Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavin Jennings were joined by members of the Edwards family, including Kutcha Edwards, his niece Eva Jo and his brother Mick, for the announcement.
Mr Andrews announced that $10 million will be invested into the reparations scheme.
Several options will be considered for the funding, including payments, counselling services and funeral funds. The monies can also be used to assist survivors tell their stories, and to assist in making redress applications.
For Kutcha, who was taken as a toddler from his family at New South Wales' Balranald Mission in the 1960’s, Wednesday's acknowledgement was about more than funding, he said.
“All members of the Stolen Generations are not here to talk about redress or money, or how many tens of millions or how many people involved. We’re here to talk about the pain that we’ve suffered, not physically, but culturally and spiritually. Imagine if it was done to your child," he said.
“The media wants to know how we feel now, we’ve dwelt on this for 52 years.
"It’s not about the physical pain, you could cut my legs off today, I could not give a damn, but I’ve lived with the trauma of being denied my rightful journey in life.
“We’re finally being heard. That’s all we want.”
Kutcha then read out a message from Donna Wright, daughter of Eunice Wright, who recently passed away after fighting tirelessly for the scheme over many years.
“I called her this morning, on behalf of her family, who are on Lake Condah Mission and who are ready to bury her mother on Friday afternoon,” he said.
“'The news is bittersweet, Kutcha. Our Elders fought the good fight.'”
Aunty Eva Jo Edwards, a Boonwurrung, Mutti Mutti and Yorta Yorta woman, was taken from her family at age five and spent her next 13 years in institutions. She says the time taken for the Government to make the call was crucial to her.
“I guess for me that it’s about acknowledging that it's taken 23 years since the tabling of the Bringing Them Home report. Number three of the 54 recommendations [was] that a reparation was sought for us as Stolen Generations,” she said.
“It’s so important for the recognition, and it’s so important that we know that the policies of the past were wrong.”
The redress scheme was a key item raised by the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, which was facilitated by the government to negotiate a framework for a Treaty in the state.
The first consultations will be held later this year, with the scheme to begin in 2021.