Ahead of National Sorry Day, the Australian Greens called on the Federal Government to adopt a national compensation package for survivors of the Stolen Generations.
What is National Sorry Day?
National Sorry Day is an annual event held in Australia on May 26th, since 1998. On this day, Australia remembers and acknowledges the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were removed from their families and communities. These people are now commonly known as ‘The Stolen Generations’.
On May 26th 1988, a national inquiry investigated past policies and other pratices that forced removal of Indigenous children from their families. The resulting report known as Bringing Them Home marked a critical moment in the healing journey of many Stolen Generations members.
However, it was only in 2008 that the Australian governement made a formal apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples for unjustly removing generations of children from their families, thus inflicting profound grief onto them.
What has the government done since then?
When released in 1997, the Bringing Them Home report recommended the establishment of a National Compensation Fund to compensate the estimated 17 150 victims for the harm inflected on them by the Australian government’s practices.
However, no Federal Government has ever implemented such a scheme. Only State Governements such as Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia have compensated the Stolen Generations for their grief. Besides, Survivors in the Northern Territory are currently lauching a class action against the Federal Governement for adequate compensation.
Moreover, even after twenty four years following the publication of the report, it’s estimated that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are still 10.6 times more likely to be taken from their homes than non-Indigenous children.
“To secure the rights and futures of our children, we must heal the past – not continue to separate children from their community, culture and kin.”Catherine Liddle, SNAICC CEO
Catherine Liddle, leader of the National Voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (SNAICC), calls for a more proactive collaboration with the Indigenous community in the elaboration of an efficient response.
“We need to recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the experts in providing culturally responsive services to our children and families,” she declared on the organisation’s website.
She added : “Governments must invest more in our community-led healing and support programs that respond to trauma for children, families and communities.”
Now, Victorian Greens Senator and Djabwurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman Lidia Thorpe announced a plan for a nationally consistent scheme that will more adequately compensate Stolen Generations for the pain they endured.
What would the compensation plan include?
According to the Greens, the package would provide $200 000 to each Stolen Generations Member survivor to support them and their families. The scheme also includes a one-off payment of $7 000 for funeral expenses, which would help alleviate their financial burden.
Moreover, the Stolen Generations would also receive a secondary package aimed at helping their mental health and ease their emotional distress as they continue to heal from their trauma.
Senator Thorpe described the creation of the package and the announcement as an “emotional time”. Now, she calls on the Australian Federal Government to implement the plan in order to bring families their justice and their peace.
“Sorry can’t be just a word, we need sorry to be action — reparate our Stolen [Generations] so that they can have some kind of normality in their life.”Lidia Thorpe, Australian Greens Senator and Djabwurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman
In a video announcing the scheme, Thorpe denounced the lack of action made to repair the damage that has been done to the First Nations.
“I have seen so many of our people pass away waiting for justice, waiting for peace. This is my community, this is our community, and our people continue to live in poverty. They continue to feel the effects of being taken away from their families and their communities,” she said.
Thus, the Greens continue to lead the way in the fight to bring peace and justice to the Stolen Generations and their families.