Still no redress for the Stolen Generations
Seven years after the National Apology
13 February 2015
Marks the 7th Anniversary of the National Apology
“For us [Australians], symbolism is important but, unless the great symbolism of reconciliation is accompanied by an even greater substance, it is little more than a clanging gong. It is not sentiment that makes history; it is our actions that make history.” (Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, 13 February 2008)
To mark the seventh anniversary of the Federal Government’s National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples, the Northern Territory Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation today welcomes the call by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for a national scheme of redress and compensation.
The Stolen Generations have been fighting for this outcome for decades with no significant action by the Territory and Federal governments. The debate about who is technically responsible is nonsense. The moral imperative is that all levels of government work together in consultation with the Stolen Generations to correct this injustice and heal the inter-generational trauma that continues to this day.
The Stolen Generations call on all governments to put words into action by paying compensation and redress for the damage caused to its members “in their lifetimes”.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott can make history today by fully implementing all recommendations of Bringing Them Home Report, which may help ease the lifelong grief and sorrow of the hundreds of Aboriginal people forcibly removed from their mothers, country and culture, and placed in government-run and government-sanctioned institutions.
Stolen Generations from other jurisdictions have received some form of monetary compensation and redress, but why not those in the Northern Territory?
The Stolen Generations and their descendants have contributed significantly to the multicultural life of the NT, through their achievements in spite of past polices.
This includes Stolen Generations members and descendants being members of Federal Parliament and the NT Legislative Assembly, being elected to community councils, working in the cattle industry and private sector, and serving the community as doctors, lawyers, teachers, university lecturers, and public servants.
Members and descendants have also brought honour to the NT by representing Australia at Olympic and Commonwealth games, and being selected in AFL, NRL, NBL and Cricket Australia teams.
Aboriginal Territorians have proudly served in every Australian military campaign from the Boer War to the War in Afghanistan.
As they grow old, members of the Stolen Generations have become aware of the impact of the policies of forced removals on their children and their children’s, children. This is reflected in high incarceration rates, poor health, low education levels, high unemployment and, sadly, record levels of Aboriginal children in care.
The Northern Territory Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation (NTSGAC) continues its call for a Healing Centre where Aboriginal people can work together with health, education, and employment services to address the trauma caused by the complex nature of colonisation.
This Healing Centre must be culturally appropriate, with qualified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff. The NTSGAC has made a number of submissions to government and to Aboriginal-funded programs, and is hopeful they will be supported
The Board of the NTSGAC also calls for a non-political conversation between all parties to reverse the negative consequences that the policies of forced removals continue to have on Aboriginal youth of today.
Ms Eileen Cummings – NTSGAC Chairperson – 0408 772 180
Maurie Ryan – NTSGAC Deputy Chairperson – 0431 534 164