Next Steps – Stolen Generations Reparations Scheme
On Thursday 19th of November 2015, the State Government announced a $6 million Reparation Fund for survivors of the Stolen Generations from South Australia. This comes nearly eight years after the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. The Honourable Kyam Maher MLC announced the scheme in a strong statement made to Parliament.
Under the “Next Steps – Stolen Generations Reparations Scheme” South Australian survivors of the Stolen Generations who were forcibly removed from their parents will be eligible for an ex gratia payment of up to$50,000. Survivors will have the chance to asses if they still want to pursue other legal remedies or apply to the Reparations Scheme. According to the detail of the scheme, applicants will have 12 months from March 2016 to lodge their applications.
An additional $5 million has been allocated to be used for whole-of-community reparations, such as memorials, counselling and support programs, scholarships and exhibitions sharing the stories of the Stolen Generations.
This long overdue fund implements more of the “Bringing Them Home” Report recommendations and is a critical step in the journey of healing for many survivors of the Stolen Generations. As Minister Maher acknowledged, “no amount of money will ever be enough toundo the wrongs of the past but it’s an offer we will be making to thosemembers of our community stolen from their families by past governments as recognition of these wrongs.”
South Australian welcomes Constitutional Change
On Thursday the 21st of March 2013, South Australia's Constitution was amended to recognise Aboriginal peoples as the traditional owners and occupiers of South Australian land and waters. This long-overdue amendment acknowledges past injustices and recognises the continuing importance of Aboriginal heritage and culture. South Australia's historic change comes as Australia gears up to amend the Australian Constitution. The Australian people will go to referendum to amend the Constitution in order to recognise Aboriginal andTorres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians, and to remove 'race power' clauses. To find out more about the proposed changes, visit Recognise.
Recognition Bill passes the Senate
Five years after Kevin Rudd's national apology to the Stolen Generations, the Senate passed legislation to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of Australia. The bill, which passed unopposed in the Upper House, paves the way for a national referendum to amend the Australian Constitution. The bill received unanimous support in the Lower House and was welcomed by both the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. Mr Abbott acknowledged the efforts of the Prime Minister, and stated: "So often in this place, we are antagonists. Today on this matter, we are partners and collaborators."
Apology to the Stolen Generations
On the 13th of February 2008, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered a landmark apology to the Stolen Generations. Emotions ran high as thousands of Aboriginal people gathered in Canberra to watch the Apology, which was also televised across Australia. In his milestone speech, Mr Rudd delivered the following apology: "For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry. To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry. And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry." Five years on, Kevin Rudd reflected on the Apology and looked to the future of reconciliation at the Reconciliation SA Breakfast. Read his speech here.
There is Still Work to Be Done is Reconciliation SA’s campaign to promote the Bringing Them Home report recommendations that have not been enacted. In SA, we have been supporting the work of the Aboriginal Lands Parliamentary Committee in advancing the 2010 Stolen Generations Reparations Tribunal Bill (a private member’s Bill moved by Ms Tammy Franks of the Greens).