By Lily Nothling
Online production by Joseph Lam
An Indigenous support organisation is calling for compensation and support for the Stolen Generation after the Government has failed to implement its recommendations from the 1997 Bringing Them Home national inquiry.
This morning a report titled Bringing Them Home 20 years On: an action plan by the Healing Foundation was handed to the Prime Minister in Canberra.
It’s been 20 years since the Australian Human Rights Commission’s “Bringing Them Home” inquiry was first tabled in federal parliament.
Acknowledging the stories of Aboriginal children forcefully removed from their families, Bringing Them Home was the first of its kind to recognise the atrocities committed and the lives of those affected in such a way and provided a basis for reconciliation.
But two decades on, it’s clear that scars still run deep.
The Healing Foundation’s report shows the government has failed to implement the recommendations of the Bringing Them Home inquiry.
They say it’s the root of many problems faced by Aboriginal communities including substance abuse, family violence and self harm.
Florence Onus from the Healing Foundation says many are still suffering from the unresolved grief and pain of being institutionalised as children.
She says they experienced physical, sexual and emotional violence.
“If four generations of your family suffered all institutionalisation, and suffered both forms of abuse on a regular level, do you think, you know, that you’d be a function person today? No, you wouldn’t,” she said.
Ms Onus was one of five children taken from her mother at the age of five.
Her mother was also forcibly removed.
The Healing Foundation is calling for a comprehensive analysis into the contemporary needs of the Stolen Generation.
It also wants a national scheme for reparation and a national study into inter-generational trauma.
Ms Onus says this is just the beginning.
“The healing has only really just begun, but we need more healing resources and we need government to take the lead and implement its action plan,” said Ms Onus.
Aboriginal activist and lawyer Michael Mansell says if the government was sincere in its 2007 apology to the Stolen Generation, it would provide monetary compensation.
“In Australian society, anyone who suffers damages as a result of injuries caused by someone else is entitled to damages, however it seems that the only people not entitled to compensation are the aboriginal children and families who suffered,” said Manswell.
CEO of Reconciliation Australia Justin Mohamed says the country needs to come to terms with its past to prevent history from repeating itself.
“There’s a number of our young people, the numbers are extraordinarily high, in out of home town so we need to make sure there’s some really strategic thinking and planning and action so that we don’t have another generation of people who have grown up outside of their communities and their families,” says Mohamed.
National Reconciliation Week begins on Saturday.