Australia will make amends for the ‘Stolen Generation.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Thursday that Australia will make one-time cash payments of US$60,000 to those Indigenous Australians who were forcibly separated from their families as children to remedy what he called a “shameful” era in the country’s history.
Official assimilation practices continued throughout the 1970s, removing thousands of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from their homes and placing them in foster care with white families.
Morrison said of the “Stolen Generation” of Indigenous Australians, “What happened is a shameful chapter in our national story.”
“We have already tackled it with a national apology,” he added, adding that “our actions must continue to match our words.” The accounts of the suffering were “not simply past events, but experiences that continue to echo through the generations,” according to the report.
Indigenous Australians, who continue to face significant disadvantages in terms of health, money, and education, applauded the announcement, but said it was long overdue.
Morrison announced that Aus$378.6 million (US$280 million) would be set aside to compensate for the assimilation policy’s human costs.
The reimbursements will be offered to residents of the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory, which includes Canberra, and Jervis Bay territory, which were all administered by the Commonwealth at the time of the forced removals.
Other Australian states have established redress mechanisms, but the federal government has yet to do so.
Survivors will receive a one-time payment of Aus$75,000 in acknowledgement of the harm they have suffered, as well as a $7,000 “healing assistance” payment and the chance to relate their tales to a senior government official and get a face-to-face or written apology.
The federal funds are part of a $1 billion initiative to address Indigenous Australians’ severe disparities.
The reparations were welcomed by Fiona Cornforth, the head of the Healing Foundation, a non-governmental organization that works with survivors of the Stolen Generation.
“Redress is primarily about addressing the past wrongs committed against the Stolen Generations, as well as the lifelong pain and grief that continues to be carried as a weight today,” she added.
The policy comes nearly 25 years after the important “Bringing Them Home” report in 1997, which recognised the human rights crimes and set forth procedures to support individuals affected following a national probe into the forced separations.
“We cried and jumped on our mothers’ backs, hoping not to be left behind. But the cops apprehended us and threw us back in the car,” one said. Brief News from Washington Newsday.