• An Indigenous Australian woman cries in federal parliament as she listens to former prime minister Kevin Rudd deliver an apology to the Stolen Generations. (AAP)Source: AAP
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will today announce payments of $75,000 to members of the Stolen Generations if Labor wins government
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12 Feb 2018 - 10:08 AM  UPDATED 12 Feb 2018 - 10:08 AM

Bill Shorten will deliver compensation to members of the Stolen Generations in Commonwealth jurisdictions, including the Northern Territory, ACT and Jervis Bay. 

The scheme will provide payments of $75,000 to survivors who were forcibly removed from their families and committed to care. 

Mr Shorten will use the pledge to mark the 10th anniversary of the official apology to the Stolen Generations delivered by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. 

"We must remember the Apology was so much more than a set of well-chosen words," Mr Shorten's advanced speech said. 

"It was not just an expression of sorrow or regret – but a declaration of intent, a promise for action," it said.  

Mr Shorten said the establishment of a compensation scheme deals with the unfinished business of the Apology, and responds to a recommendation of the landmark Bringing Them Home report, which recommended financial compensation be provided.  

"The continuing weight and meaning of the Apology comes from what we do now, from our actions, from the change we drive, the gaps we close and the unfinished business we resolve." 

Over the past decade, state governments have established a number of different compensation schemes, however Mr Shorten says "they are not all perfect, there is still work to do".

New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania have set up schemes. 

"Yet around 150 members of the Stolen Generations who were the direct responsibility of the Commonwealth Government, namely, First Australians in the Northern Territory, and the Koori people of the ACT and Jervis Bay have received no financial compensation, whatsoever," Mr Shorten's address said. 

Indigenous Labor Senator Pat Dodson says the process wouldn't be onerous on survivors. 

People have had enough burdens in their lives in this situation. We're talking about a relatively small group of people that are now left - elderly people in the main," he told ABC Radio. 

"So, we'd design a program where that could be, you know, empathetic to their situation rather than the one that bureaucrats would want to, you know, have a box to tick on every matter," he said. 

“It's only money, it doesn't go to closing the emotional harm that was done. But it is important that we as a nation acknowledge those deep wrongs in a financial sense as well as through the apology,” says Labor MP Andrew Leigh. 

Labor will also convene a national summit on First Nations children within its first 100 days of government to address the high rates of child removal and identify new approaches. 

This is very, very significant. At the moment up to 35 per cent of children in care across this country are Aboriginal," says Indigenous Labor MP Linda Burney.

"It is an outrageous number, something like 17,000 children are in care, this is unacceptable" she said.

Labor will also establish a $10 million National Healing Fund to assist with the healing needs of Stolen Generations and their descendants. 

"Kevin Rudd's apology ten years ago was an incredibly important point for this nation. This is everyone's business, said Indigenous Labor MP Linda Burney. "Of course we see that the closing gap report today indicates very strongly that there is still so much work to do, there has been minute improvement," she said. 

"But we're still seeing things like heart disease in Aboriginal communities. And we’re still remote houses with up to 30 people living inside them. We're still seeing Aboriginal people are dying dramatically young than non-Aboriginal Australians," Ms Burney said. 

'Progress shown but targets not being met' 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to reveal three of the seven key targets of Closing the Gap are on track after a decade. 

The targets to halve the gap in child mortality by 2018 and have 95 per cent of all Indigenous four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood education by 2025 are both now on track. 

The only target found to be on track in 2017 - to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment by 2020 - also remains on track.

However, the remaining four targets, including a key one to close the 10-year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 2031, are lagging.

As well, three of the remaining four targets - to halve the gaps in employment, reading and numeracy, and in school attendance for Indigenous students - are due to expire in 2018.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion says while some targets are not on track to be met, there has been "solid progress" in other areas compared with a decade ago.

"While we celebrate these important accomplishments, it remains clear we need to continue to work in partnership with Indigenous communities to deliver improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the future," he said.

WA Greens Senator Rachel Siewert says we have not closed the gap on life expectancy. 

"The government today will try and gloss over the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are very upset with the approach to refresh.They feel they have not been adequately consulted and are deeply concerned that targets will be watered down," she said.  

- with APP 

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